What are the police for? Why are we paying for this?
The death of George Floyd and the egregious, unprovoked acts of police violence at the peaceful protests
following his death have raised these urgent questions. Police forces across America need root-to-stem changes—to their internal cultures, training and hiring practices, insurance, and governing regulations. Now a longtime demand from social-justice campaigners has become a rallying cry: Defund the police.
This is in one sense a last-resort policy: If cops cannot stop killing people, and black people in particular, society needs fewer of them. But it is also and more urgently a statement of first principles: The country needs to shift financing away from surveillance and punishment, and toward fostering equitable, healthy, and safe communities.
As a general point, the United States has an extreme budget commitment to prisons, guns, warplanes, armored vehicles, detention facilities, courts, jails, drones, and patrols—to law and order
, meted out discriminately. It has an equally extreme budget commitment to food support, aid for teenage parents, help for the homeless, child care for working families, safe housing, and so on. It feeds the former and starves the latter.
Police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over the life course, about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police.
Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an
array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely
advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people
of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white
– the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the
expense of Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab and other
racially oppressed people.
Individual Racism: Definition:
Individual or internalized racism lies within individuals. These are
private manifestations of racism that reside inside the individual.
Examples include prejudice, xenophobia, internalized oppression and privilege, and
beliefs about race influenced by the dominant culture.