America has always been a place that struggles with racial issues. Condoleezza Rice once called it the “birth defect” of the nation. However, depending on the persons at the helm of the political process, these issues can either be soothed or exacerbated.
Recently inaugurated, resident Donald Trump, has already experienced quite a bit of opposition to his leadership and many predict that he will amplify racial tension in the country. While racial injustice is certainly an issue that should outrage all Americans, it is experienced at varying degrees based on one’s ethnicity.
A prominent display of this at work is the friction between police officers and African Americans. As much as we had hoped to see some improvement with this problem, the attitude of the current president towards instances of bias in the society has forced us to confront the reality that it may be something that we have to endure for longer than hoped.
With this in mind, here are two ways for African Americans to get through negative experiences with police officers.
If you get pulled over by an officer who is a bit too aggressive with you, the very best thing to do is to comply. In police-civilian interactions, the officer will always have the upper hand, that is the power they were given when they were appointed as the protectors of the nation.
Being belligerent hurts you more than it hurts them and you are often times the one who gets injured physically and emotionally. Videotape the encounter if that makes you feel safe or recite your rights if that helps, but while you are doing these things you must comply and do as you are asked. If after you have done all of this you still believe that you were treated inappropriately, hire an attorney and file charges. The important thing is for you to survive the encounter.
Report Officers For Unruly Conduct
Too often we wait until situations become deadly before taking a stand. Attorney Christopher Stewart told listeners at Dillard University that when dealing with cases involving police misconduct, he often found that the citizens had experienced several negative encounters with the officer under investigation, yet in most cases, no one filed an official complaint. There is no need to wait until an innocent child is shot to file a complaint about an officer who has behaved inappropriately in the past. Be proactive, report police misconduct, ensure that each time an officer behaves badly there is a record of it. This may cause them to lose their jobs before they can do any serious damage or at the very least it will make a stronger case against them if they do wrongly take someone’s life.
In essence, the tension between some police officers and minorities is just one of the many by-products of racism. Until citizens can eradicate this aspect of American society, it is very likely that some police officers will continue to use their position of power to behave inappropriately towards African Americans. In such instances, the best thing to do is to comply with their demands and try to make it out of the situation in one piece. Then, if you feel it is necessary, file an official complaint and take legal action. If these officers are continuously held accountable for their misdeeds, then eventually the action will not be worth the consequence and their behavior will change.