Louis C.K. has a joke that rings painfully true. It goes along the lines of the only class of person who can hop into a time machine and travel to literally any point in the timeline is a rich white man. The poor, women, and any other race can't say that. There are huge swaths of time that aren't desirable for them to travel to, because life during those periods wasn't a remotely enjoyable experience to say the least.
Now that's not to say humanity hasn't come a long way, but in the wake of several high-profile killings of black men by cops in America and the ensuing murder of a number of police officers, it is clear that there is still a ways to go. If you need more evidence of that fact, just click on this link. It is not safe for work. It is graphic. It will instill anger, and it should.
The opposite side may quote statistics such as the fact that on average police shootings of black citizens are relatively rare. They may say that gang violence causes many more deaths among the black community than police brutality. They may talk about how police demand our respect in exchange for protecting us every single day.
All of this is true.
But respect isn't deserving without accountability. I have no doubt that there are thousands of police officers who wear, with great honor, the badge given to them. These upstanding police officers serve and protect us everyday at great risk to themselves, but there is no question that a pervasive perceived prejudice runs rampant in precincts across the country.
These high-profile killings illustrate this fact, but it's more than that. It's the stories you hear of black men and women getting hassled far more often by police than others. It's the complete failure of the war on drugs in this country. It's treating drug addiction like a crime instead of a health problem.
Take a look at our prisons if you want another example. Here is a link to a special report submitted to the U.N. in 2013 concerning racial disparity in the United States' prison system.
Take the recent email scandal involving Hillary Clinton. James Comey, the F.B.I. Director, basically said that any other government employee would receive sanctions of some sort if they mishandled classified information, but in the case of Hillary Clinton, a privileged elite, he would recommend not pursuing a case.
Add to this the severe prosecution of whistleblowers by the government, the excessive culture of gun reverence in this country, and the huge difference in media portrayal of minority criminals as oppose to white criminals as oppose to rich criminals, and you've created a two-lane unaccountable justice system that rewards the rich and wealthy while severely punishing the poor and the minority.
Like they say in Animal Farm, "All Animals are created equal. Some are more equal than others."
We must demand answers. We must ask ourselves what are we willing to endure. We must do it peacefully together, law enforcement and the communities they serve. Building trust again is how we avoid what happened in Dallas in the future
We must hold a mirror to the establishment by our actions. That's how change happens.
Cover photograph by Devin Allen