I work with children with physical and mental differences. The place I work at is stocked with a variety of toys. One of the toys we have are a police car that makes a siren sound whenever a button is pressed.
Almost every child that comes recognizes this vehicle. Some can say “police car!” Some, if their mental capabilities are high enough, will enact play schemes with the police car and another vehicle where the cops catch a bad guy.
This image played over and over in my mind as I read The Black and the Blue.
Matthew Horace does an excellent job of covering the topic of police brutality in America and the Black Lives Matter Movement. The Black and the Blue includes both statistics and personal accounts of both the author as well as witnesses and victims of the crimes. Horace draws on his own law enforcement background to explain how police training and procedures are suppose to work, which highlights just how wrong (and purposeful) the actions of police are in many of these killings. Though far from surprised, I was struck at the level of systemic racism within law enforcement.
This is a difficulty but important book to read. When I put it down, I told myself I needed to read something light and fluffy. However, I also recognize that as a privilege. Not everybody has the ability to take a break from these topics. For many people, this is life.
Throughout the book, Horace also includes interviews with other police offices of different walks of life: white and black, male and female, gay and straight. These voices serve to show the diversity in the police forces and as a reminder that not all police are bad, but all police are working in a bad system. The book focuses on the crimes police have committed on the black community in America, but Horace also talks about some of the other systemic problems facing this community as well. He states that Black Lives Matter cannot stop at the brutality and murders committed by police. It must also work to stop the harm done by gangs and drugs as well.
The Black and the Blue ends with the author quoting a song lyric: “Everybody can do something”. After reading this book, my thoughts turned to finding ways that I too can do something about this problem. How can I help reality match the play schemes of the children I work with, where police are the good guys who defend and protect ALL communities?