President Barack Obama has asked for $263 million dollars to equip police officers throughout the nation with body cameras as well as a revision to the program that equips local police with military weapons and technology.
I, generally speaking, almost never have as strong a critique of President Obama’s initiatives and efforts. I have heard ruthless criticism made by people I had personally known to be avid supporters of President Obama during his first term. My reason for this is not because he is Black, or because I am blind to his inadequacies. It is because quite simply I have held him to the same level of expectation that I have held any other president and because I have never allowed myself to romanticize him. So when I say that I think he is doing an outstanding job and that he is one of the best presidents this country has ever elected, it is because I have seen him do things that no other president has done – I’m not talking about legislation or foreign policy – I am referring to his continued practice of addressing the nation and confronting our issues no matter how controversial.
In president Obama’s call for police body cameras I am less concerned about how effective this will be on eliminating police brutality and the killing of People of Color (especially Black and Latino makes). I am more focused on the fact that he had the balls to address the country each time one of these incidents gained national attention (i.e. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner). And for each time proposing a government reaction that responds to the outcry of the public. If we recall the beating of Rodney King we remember that when Bush addressed the country after the rioting that followed the courts decision it was the riots that Bush felt most compelled to address calling it “the brutality of a mob” and vowing to use whatever force necessary against the rioters.” When he addressed the brutality of the mob that had viciously assaulted King on camera he simply asked for the people to be calm and let the system have its way.
So, yes, it is extremely impressive to me that Obama expresses his lament and even more so that he tries to use the leverage of his position to push the other governing powers to address these issues. He is only a president and he does not arbitrarily control the country or the government so it cannot be expected of him to solely correct any of our ills but he does as much as he can.
The problem is that the murder of Eric Garner being on video and still resulting in no justice against he badged murderer does say to us that these body cameras will not end the terrorizing of citizens by law enforcement; however, it will give us more evidence of the truth and images of the disgusting behavior of police at which the governing powers often turned their heads. This is not the answer in totality nor does it guarantee the justice we seek. It is a resource that we can use and it could be the beginning of a change.
We often allow ourselves to get so emotional and reactive that we become unreasonable. For those members of the communities of color, we know in vivid detail how long these things have been happening. And yes it seems almost all at once we have become fed up and we want change and we want it yesterday. But in a pragmatic view that considers the excessively fucked state of our country, we have to know that it will take time to untangle the corruption and oppression that has been so intimately weaved into our institutions over the course of a number of decades. So we can and should be critical of the efforts made in response to our calls for justice but we cannot be dismissive. The war we fight cannot be won in one battle and the change we seek will not happen overnight.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man