Police violence and turmoil should not lead to the conclusion that America is just as racist as it was 50 years ago. It is not. But in the meantime, new segregated lives and experience-based realities have evolved.
Yes, that is truly alarming: Almost on a weekly basis, reports are being published about excessive police force against black, mostly young, men. The latest case – a man died from the injuries he incurred while being held by the police – caused the worst turmoil in the city of Baltimore in many years. Those who are alleging that the police violence is systemic across several cities in the U.S. are probably not wrong: Police officers use great brutality when handling suspects, especially when they are black, and often use their weapons too quickly, which they are hardly ever brought to justice for.
The turmoil in Baltimore, on the other hand, which led to the deployment of the National Guard and the imposition of a curfew, redirects the focus on a black lower class and a social milieu, which is shaped by poverty, drugs, unemployment and, to a large extent, lack of perspectives – and just a lot of violence. That is the environment in which kids and adolescents have access to weapons and where gangs rule, which on the other hand causes the police to act extremely aggressively, as they need to be ready for anything to happen: a vicious cycle!
A heavily armed National Guard causes an uneasy feeling for many people. Immediately, presumptions are made that the U.S. is going to have to face a “hot summer.” Speculations around race-related turmoil across several cities are also driven by alarmism and sensationalism. But it can’t be ruled out completely. Evidently, too much has been bottled up; the tensions that were discharged in Baltimore will find plenty of fuel for further conflict elsewhere.
This, however, cannot lead to the conclusion that American society is just as racist as it was 50 years ago. It is not. But in the meantime, new segregated lives and experience-based realities have evolved. The world of those “criminals and thugs, who tore up Baltimore“ (Obama), lit shops and cars on fire, and attacked policemen is completely foreign to most white people, and to most black people, too.
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