by Kim Burns
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, three unarmed African American males killed by white police officers.
The causes of these tragic events need to be scrutinized; in order to prevent further violence, we need to analyze the deep roots of racism and the power struggles evident in acts of police brutality.
Demonstrating this problem is the number of cases in which police have treated minorities unfairly. For instance, in Ferguson, MO, 92 percent of searches and 86 percent of stops by police officers targeted black people, according to theatlantic.com. Brown’s case clearly was not an isolated instance but rather part of an extreme, widespread pattern.
Media attention in the wake of these cases has begun the dialogue about how skin color can turn police-minority interactions sour. This acknowledgement is a step in the right direction of dispelling racism.
According to thinkprogress.org, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that 69.5 percent of minority officers believe that minorities will receive physical force from the police. This is a troubling fact: if even members of the police force are acknowledging that there is a problem, then there must be a problem.
The question of whether the murders of Garner, Brown and Rice were caused solely by racial discrimination is still unanswered. There are other factors that contribute to the power imbalances in our society, such as age, class, gender and religion. However, we need to work to overcome these differences.
Diversity makes America unique, but by the same token, it can lead to misunderstanding. Communication is the key to understanding the feelings of both parties. Nothing can bring back the lives of Garner, Brown and Rice. But we can use these cases as an opportunity to finally begin listening to each other.
This December, the holiday season seems to be haunted by hate. But now it’s not only time to open our hearts to the holiday spirit, but more importantly to open our hearts to each other.