It’s 2018 and police violence on black bodies continues. Black people continue to get long sentences for misdemeanors. We see case after case of police officers killing black folks on a mere suspicion. Cries for justice go unheard as the officers responsible for the murder get away scott-free.
In this absurd scenario where the law is never on the black person’s side, a black police officer struggles to balance his profession with his Blackness.
One has to ask what it’s like to be black while wearing blue? The lives of black police officers are very much the same as white police officers except the black police officers cannot escape their blackness. Black police officers have to carry with them the weight of the responsibility they have sworn to uphold while witnessing abuse of power that kills their people. There should be no misgivings that being in the police shields black officers from discrimination. It does not.
To do the job they have, black police officers have to face discrimination from their own counterparts, on-duty as well as off-duty. They have been countless instances of black police officers being racially slurred by their white counterparts or being stopped-and-frisked off-duty. They are only Blue Lives till their Blackness poses a challenge like in the case of Lt. Yulanda Williams. The police officer, a veteran of SFPD, raised her voice against racism in police culture. Instead of getting support, she got rebuked by the police union’s president.
Besides these overt cases of racism, they also face the expectation to do more than their white counterparts. Not only do they have to patrol and handle volatile situations but also do community outreach. Black officer lend their relationship with their neighborhood to drum-up goodwill and trust for the police while the police’s reckless violence destroys black lives.
Ask most black officers and most of them will share their vision of reforming the police. For some, that was the impetus for them joining the police force. They want to serve their communities and uphold the institution of police while trying to end excessive force and racial profiling. In order for them to bring their vision to life, there needs to systemic changes within the police force that truly makes police officers accountable for their actions. Otherwise, black officers will continue to struggle to get their voices heard.