“Not All Cops” is killing us.

The moment when any rant on police brutality inevitably kicks back to “We’re not saying all police are bad!” I see how far we have to yet go to deeply understand the issue at hand with the goal to see it end. I see how deeply people yet love a system that murders.

It isn’t that we merely have different ideas about what could fix the problem of police brutality, but the way we view the state guilty of it, as merely needing fixing or adjusting, is directly why it continues its reign of terror against marginalized communities.

We keep saying the solution is reform and to “kick the bad apples out”, when the dynamic inherent to these results yet remains unchecked. Slave catcher vs slave, white peoples above Black is yet the game when the ruling system that committed the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow, Segregation, housing projects, sterilization and mass rape, mass incarceration and so much more over the centuries is still in place. Forget the apples, what of the whole tree?

Our investment in this ruling state and the false belief that its enforcers and officiates and their ceremony-the police, the military, government officials and politicians, etc, & their justice system-are changed and inherently good or always were (with perhaps the hypothetical possibility of individuals to do bad things, with varying levels of belief of different ones ever having done so), goes hand in hand with the idea that Black people (and to lesser but yet substantial degrees other people of color), those who historically were subjugated to its mandates and rules are inherently irrational, suspect, unpatriotic and disobedient when they do not submit (and still an unsavory inferior other even when they do). It is the deadly preexisting dynamic that creates and justifies white paternalism, which at the hands of the state is always violent. In short, if you defend police you defend their brutality. If you believe they are inherently good then Black people must be inherently bad. And so we are where we are, with Black blood keeping our streets slick and wet.

This isn’t oversimplifying or alarmist, this is literally the roles set in place long before you and me and it’s naive at best and bloodthirsty at worst to think otherwise, or to believe substantial changes have been made when absolutely nothing points to that fact, and I hope I am not remiss in saying we should deal and operate solely in reality with these things, especially when Black lives are at stake. We have come to understand otherwise and love the state under varying poor and nefarious circumstances, due to Stockholm Syndrome, out of innocence, for the sake of self defense, to keep our sanity, or to protect our racial power because many yet agree with their brutality and the reasons for it. What we have in common is we are all too cowardly to admit our true reasons for investing. We couch our faith in language of fairness, patriotism and a respect for the “good work” police and other parts of the system do for us, or even just defeat and apathy. I wish we’d stop being cowards. I wish we’d just admit we’re scared, uninformed, uncreative, or in love with their violence.

If we shifted away from that cowardice and investment and its language that is individualistic and sees these acts as isolated and random, their perpetrators and ourselves as witless and innocent to ideologies, powers and behaviors we cannot control nor help, to language that correctly understands these instances as overarching, constant, connected and intentional acts of supremacy whether recognized by those persons or not with all of us beholden and responsible both in its perpetuation and to see it end, we can have that necessary, life-saving shift in focus that starts understanding white supremacy as calibrated, ever present, vile, instrumental and ubiquitous to our current systems and society and how we have a hand in allowing and creating this so we must have a hand in stopping it, too.

This means a change from “Some cops are bad but not all, only that person sending Kaepernick death threats is a bigot while the others are just people who disagree, certain Trump supporters are racist” to “Those peoples who are voting for Trump, dismissing, mocking or sending death threats to Kaepernick, all the way to killer cops and their apologists and supporters and people watching this idly by, are all invested in a violent system of suppression at the behest of white supremacy and wish to stifle dissent of said system that they benefit from specifically because they benefit from it, whether they realize that or not”. Simplistic ideas like “These isolated acts of racism reflect poorly on this otherwise good system” must become “These acts are all of white supremacy committed by any given people and are not flaws or unlawful as they are the intended results and align fully with the initial spirit, goals and will of the system.”

Belief in the monster lets him run wild. Challenging its reign is the only way to set us free.

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Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com

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Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com