Response to Recent Police and Civilian Killings
September 7, 2016 by Cindy Similien-Johnson
Suggested Solutions (continued)
Towards that end, I want to suggest the following:
1. Criminal Justice System
Across the length and breadth of the criminal justice system, let us insist and do all that we can to ensure that the “justice” in the criminal justice system be indeed a reality. Let Madame Justice be blind, and her scales evenly balanced.
Let the jury render decisions based on facts and truth. The symbiotic relationships among the prosecutor, police, and juries must end. There have to be a better way. The penal system must be humane and rehabilitative. It is commendable that the society is now focusing on unjust sentencing, the penal system, and re-entry. But, time is of the essence. We must hasten the changes. Lives are at stake.
I’ve already addressed police behavior and recommendations for change. However, I do want to repeat for emphasis “police need to police the police.”
2. Corporate America
Corporate America must share the wealth. The campaign of Bernie Sanders highlighted the incredible disparity of wealth. It seemed that America is at the crossroads as it relates to the preposterous gap between the have’s and the have not’s. There must be a radical change in the distribution of wealth, or face revolutions or perpetual disruptions which would have the potential to threaten the foundation of the country itself.
3. Banks and Lending Institutions
The lenders must do their part in making available without discriminatory practices the necessary resources available for businesses and home ownership, especially for “so-called” minorities and women. The discrimination in lending has had a far-reaching impact in the inner cities. It impacts many areas of our lives while it denies one part of the population, it benefits another segment of society. Radical changes must apply here, too.
Unions must open the doors for employment, apprenticeship, and financial help. With governments and corporations working hand in hand, creating more jobs, will then put responsibility upon unions to open its doors and allow greater participation, especially as it relates to so-called minorities.
5. The Media/TV/Hollywood (MTH)
At least equal if not above all other institutions, the MTH shapes the images and information that the populace receive. I think for most people their perception of others is influenced by the MTH. There needs to be an honest, truthful, and factual portrayal of reality, especially as it relates to races and individuals, events, etc. The MTH should strive for fairness in giving awards, employment, and opportunities in all facets of its operation.
Religious people must practice what they preach. For the Christian religion, based on the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, it is clear that God takes the side of the oppressed, exploited, and the poor – in a word, the least in society. If we follow the Scriptures, we must speak and act accordingly. Where religion takes the side of the rich, powerful, and oppressor to neglect the poor, and disadvantaged, then that religion needs to be challenged. Religion must exercise its awesome, moral authority for freedom, justice, equality, opportunities, and compassion for all. Religious people must not allow themselves to be manipulated by the keepers of the status quo; to be manipulated or deceptively used by the keepers of the status quo.
7. Activists/ Organizers/ Protestors/ Change Agents
They must continue to challenge society to do the right thing, but, at the same time, help society to think through what is the right thing to do. Activism, I believe, should always be done with the hope of reconciliation with the adversaries, and that both work together to build a better society. With or without the adversary, activists must do what they are called to do.
Although written in 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last book, “Where do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” should be a must read for everyone concerned about America’s future (indeed, the future of the world) and the challenges we must face and overcome to avert disaster. The book is very relevant, and I will quote it extensively. Also, I will include a speech that I delivered in 1982 on the title of the book. The following quote is especially apropos for activists:
“Mass nonviolent action will continue to be one of the most effective tactics of the Freedom Movement. Many, especially in the North, argue that the maximum use of legislation, welfare and antipoverty programs has now replaced demonstrations, and that overt and visible protest should now be abandoned. Nothing could prove more erroneous than to demobilize at this point. It was the mass-action movement that engendered the changes of the decade, but the needs which created it are not yet satisfied. Without the will to unity and struggle, Negroes would have no strength, and reversal of our successes could be easily effected. The use of creative tensions that broke the barriers of the South will be as indispensable in the North to obtain and extend necessary objectives.
“But mass nonviolent demonstrations will not be enough. They must be supplemented by a continuing job of organization. To produce change, people must be organized to work together in units of power. These units may be political, as in the case of voters’ leagues and political parties; they may be economic, as in the case of groups of tenants who join forces to form a union or groups of the unemployed and underemployed who organize to get jobs and better wages.
“More and more, the civil rights movement will have to engage in the task of organizing people into permanent groups to protect their own interests and produce change in their behalf. This task is tedious, and lacks the dram of demonstrations, but it is necessary for meaningful results. ”
To repeat, Dr. King’s words are so relevant and meaningful that those who are activists will do well to give serious effort to implement them partially or in whole, and just, as in Dr. King’s day, powerful people – black and white – are saying, “Enough demonstrations. Focus your attention elsewhere. You are creating hostility and resistance. You’re hurting your own cause.”
Dr. King would say what we said, as the apartheid system in South Africa began to crumble, “Keep the pressure on.”
… to be continued.