We are all responsible

I have a saved search in Google for “chief culture officer”, which I visit daily.

In the last few days, the top results are not about a new CCO being appointed at some random company. The top results are about chiefs of police making statements about the police culture – what it is and what it should be.

I’ve seen a few articles asking if police brutality against Black men is a systemic problem or the result of bad apples. When something happens over and over again, it’s not because of bad apples. It’s a systemic problem.

The question is: of what system?

The system of a specific police district? The entire US police force? Or perhaps it is the entire US population. After all, that’s where police officers come from.

Let’s compare Buffalo, NY and Orlando, FL. Between 2013 and 2016, both had about 250,000 residents. About half of the residents were people of color. Buffalo’s violent crime rate was 33% higher than Orlando’s. However, Buffalo’s police did not kill anyone during those years, while Orlando’s force killed 13 people.

This image is from the website “Mapping Police Violence”. Click on the image to be directed in a separate tab.

Racism is systemic. It is in every society. It finds its way into every organization. But some organizations are better at fighting it than others. It often boils down to leadership and their expectations. The police officer who killed George Floyd by calmly kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes while being recorded on video looked confident that he was going to get away with it.

What we need is a united front at every systemic level. We need police chiefs everywhere to stand up. We need the National Association of Police Organizations to speak up. We need our President to promote unity and abandon divisiveness.

We each need to renounce and denounce racism.

Our kids are watching and learning.

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