The Police: A Black and White Experience
Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong New York, who is white, recently did a video discussion on race with Bishop T.D. Jakes, who is black. Bishop Jakes offered these thoughts on why some people, specifically white people, don’t believe that the offenses by the police against black people, are systemic:
“The reason that the people you talk to don’t believe it is systemic is because they are not victimized by it. I don’t blame them for not believing it because the police in their neighborhood don’t do that...The police that pull up to them are a help for them, and encouragement for them, and they (the people) are assumed to be good people. They are assumed to be good people until proven otherwise, even if they’ve had a few drinks. They just had too much to drink. I’ll make it plain. If you live in one part of Chicago and you’ve got a drug problem, you go to jail, and if you live in another part of Chicago, it’s a sickness, and you go to rehab. What is a crime in our community is a sickness in your community, treatable with sympathy and empathy and kindness, and it’s talked about openly. If I had the same problem and live in the wrong zip code, I’m a criminal and a dog and an outlaw. These kinds of inconsistencies…” (A Discussion on Racism | Carl Lentz & Bishop T.D. Jakes | Hillsong East Coast, 2020)
The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. (About CATO, n.d.) Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues. Here is an excerpt from one of its publications. It points out differences in perception of the police due to race and the resultant impact on the community:
“Although a majority of Americans express a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the police, the same is not true across all racial and ethnic lines. Less than one‐third of black respondents to a Gallup poll expressed a large amount of confidence in the police. And while a majority of Hispanics still have a lot of confidence in the police, just over 40 percent of other nonwhites do. Research by Charles Epp and others at the University of Kansas shows that support for police declines when individuals and the people they know have negative police experiences, particularly through investigatory stops.
This lack of confidence in the police can endanger communities. As Jill Leovy documented in her book Ghettoside, the poor relationships officers have with black Los Angelenos hinders homicide clearance rates and prosecutions. At the same time, the ’broken windows’ policing strategy that focuses on heavy enforcement of petty crimes has been shown to have no effect on the felony crime rate, the premise on which the strategy is based. Together, these create a tragic contradiction in which black communities are over‐policed for drugs and petty crimes, but under‐policed for homicides and other violent crimes.” (Blanks, 2016)
The University of Kansas study cited by the Cato Institute shows that “support for police declines when individuals and the people they know have negative police experiences.” (Blanks, 2016) To T.D. Jake’s point, for many white people in America, “the police that pull up to them are a help for them, an encouragement for them, they are assumed to be good people until proven otherwise.” For African Americans, many, as the University of Kansas study indicates, have had “negative police experiences” or know someone who has.
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