Perspective

Jul 08 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

Perspective-taking (stepping into another's shoes and trying to see things from their position) is a fundamental requirement of empathy. I can imagine myself in the shoes of my black neighbors who grow up to the realization that they cannot operate on the assumption that they get the automatic benefit of the doubt that comes with white privilege, and that any wrong word or move when interacting with authority could result in their agency being taken away, their injury, or even death. I can also imagine myself in the shoes of the police officers who go to work every day because they are committed to helping keep people safe, people of all colors. And of their families who can't ignore the anxiety that something like what happened last night could happen to them. These perspectives are not mutually exclusive, and once you have put yourself into all of these, you see there are no "sides," just a continuum of human experiences.

But also: the St. Anthony police department is my local police force. I know and trust these people, and I am sure that they are good people, who want to be good officers, and who think they are doing their best at approaching the complex issues of race and policing. BUT YET it was one of them that did this--one of them who lost his mind at the thought of a black man with a gun and pulled his trigger in fear of that black man who had not actually done anything that any reasonable person would consider threatening if he had been a white man (for which there is more than ample evidence to support that we culturally accept--see the machine-gun-toting white citizens who walked around Lafayette, IN when I lived there without getting even asked to stop by the police, much less shot).

This is what we need to come to terms with: that this fear is a terrible, unconscious part of how most of us think in our lizard brains underneath our rational mind. And this is what I am taking responsibility for recognizing and changing, starting in myself.

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