Blue Isn’t a Race

Illustration by Iain Duffus

The NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association released a video on Aug. 20 titled “Blue Racism.” The video, complete with a blue tint, argues “a strange form of racism” is occurring in America that discriminates against police officers for simply being police officers.

The video begins by giving viewers a personal look at police officers by calling them all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, etc. and suggests that people only see them as “blue.” The narrator calls this discrimination, “an even broader stereotype through an even more racist lense.”

The police force isn’t “under attack.” It’s being scrutinized after a long history of abuse and racial profiling. This video and the “Blue Lives Matter” movement ignore police brutality and demean the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter.

To compare the police force to black people because of the color of their uniforms is utterly disrespectful. Police officers can take their uniforms off. Black people can’t change the color of their skin.

The union’s president Edward D. Mullins has since admitted the use of the word “racism” was inappropriate. As if the entire video itself wasn’t.

The narrator also points out police officers are scared to say they’re “blue” in their private lives for fear of violence against themselves or their families. That’s not a concept distinct to the police force. Are they unaware black people have to leave their homes everyday in fear of violence against themselves? They can’t hide their blackness in their closets and seamlessly merge into society. They have no option but to be aware of the threats surrounding them at all times.

To make matters worse, the video even misquotes Martin Luther King Jr. The video attempts to use his famous quote “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” but instead only reads “by their color.”

The Sergeant’s Benevolent Association leaves out the “skin” part because they’re aware the color of a uniform is completely different from the color of someone’s skin.

It is disrespectful of them to use a civil rights icon to promote this cause because the civil rights movement was largely fighting for their rights in the justice system, and to this day still is with the Black Lives Matter movement. To compare the two movements is despicable. The least they could do is quote King correctly.

I sympathize for the families of those that have died while in uniform and I know that there are good, genuine people in the police force. I am in no way saying that since these people decided to join the police force, they deserve everything coming to them.

Instead of victimizing themselves, however, the police force needs to work on bettering their relationship with civilians and ensuring that things such as racial profiling and police brutality are addressed and dealt with.

The current opposition to the police force isn’t just coming from some group of rebels that don’t have any respect for authority. They aren’t a bunch of “thugs” or “criminals” that are fighting against a force that’s trying to keep the peace. Opposition stems from a group of people that are tired of seeing black people killed and unjustly imprisoned by authority over and over again without any recourse.

The Washington Post website tracks all of the people shot and killed by police each year through a database. The tracker allows visitors to see these deaths by race, age, gender, state, mental illness, body cameras, weapons involved and if the person was fleeing the scene or not. So far for 2017, at the end of August, there have been 646 deaths.

We’ve seen footage of the unjust deaths of Philando Castile, Freddie Gray and 12-year-old Tamir Rice and despite the civilian outcry that follows, very little change has been made.

It’s sickening that instead of listening to the masses and attempting to make a change, the police force turns around and makes themselves the victims. Clearly institutionalized racism isn’t going be fixed overnight, or even over the course of a few years, but the police force just took 10 steps back with this video.

How many more dashcam videos are we going to have to watch? How many more guilty police officers are going to walk away without any blood on their hands? How many more black people are going to be killed after a routine traffic stop?

Instead of pushing the concept of this made-up form of “blue racism,” the police force needs to pay attention to and do something about actual racism that exists today.

 

Katie Bashista

Opinions Editor

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