The “Good Negroes”
Art and Conversations about Racism in America Part 2
by Amanda Cherry
The lyrics of the old negro spiritual “We Shall Overcome” became a PSA on the Campaign Zero website. Several African American celebrities from Marlon Wayans to a visibly emotional Keisha Epps, repeat the lyrics, “We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome, someday.” The video ends with, #SomedayisToday
As the national and local headlines feature shootings of police officers and police officers shooting citizens, solutions are being discussed. Several which appear on the website, Campaign Zero, whose organizer “… is a protester and organizer, born and raised in St. Louis, who became known for her online and offline activism and organizing in Ferguson in August 2014. Since then, Johnetta Elzie has worked to organize toward sustainable change. She sits on the planning team for mappingpoliceviolence.org and wetheprotesters.org to provide police accountability and organizer resources. In August 2015, she helped launch Campaign Zero, a comprehensive policy platform to address police violence in the United States.”
The website discusses ten solutions for ending police violence. Including, community oversight, independent investigation and prosecution, community representation and training among them. Rev. Dr. Terrell Carter has written in his book, Walking the Blue Line, on similar solutions. He believes that communication and community involvement are equally important to finding solutions.
“Police departments, as much of a role as they play in the situation, won’t be able to fix it themselves,” Carter said. “As many bad police officers as we have out there, we have just as many bad people out there who want to hurt police officers just for the sake of hurting police officers. This is never just a one-sided conversation.”
Solutions for a Community
Carter offers ideas for the community, as well as police departments, ideas similar to what the Dallas Police Department was doing before the shootings. He stresses that each community is different and must find its own solutions based on their needs, but there are four basic concepts that any community can adopt.
“Number one, recognizing the value of every person,” Carter says. “Number two how do we get more people involved whether that is in leadership, whether that is in decision making processes, how do we get more diversity? And then people have to be willing to be uncomfortable. When these groups begin telling them what their findings are, when they begin telling them what they’re doing wrong the automatic default is defensiveness. Be open to whatever it is that you find. It’s not necessarily a personal attack on you, be willing to listen knowing it’s not just a personal attack on you.”
Carter’s final suggestion is patience. He admits these four solutions are theoretical and abstract, but believes that any community can benefit from implementing them on any level. An example being in the aftermath of the Dallas Police shootings, Police Chief David Brown called for members of the Black Lives Matter movement to become police officers. A surge in new recruits after the massacre proves the potential for a change to come from within.
Implementing Martin Luther King
“Building relationships with people in the community is part of the solution,” Carter says. “Dr. King (Martin Luther King Jr.) talks about loving your neighbor. Part of the problem is that not everyone believes in Dr. King’s idea of love. Love can only take us so far, especially when the people you are interacting with don’t adhere to the same idea.”
Many people in the community may be tired of hearing about police violence, but the greatest weapon against it is transparency. The idea of more exposure is an idea Dr. King used to involve the community at large. Carter relates a story of Dr. King preparing for a march and being advised of television cameras filming it. The concern was that civil rights leaders seen getting beaten, bitten by dogs and shot with fire hoses would harm the movement. “Dr. King said yes, we want the world to see what has happened to us. And in doing that, that will get other people involved.”
For more information on Rev. Dr. Terrell Carter- https://terrellcarter.net/author/terrellcarterinstlouis/
Click here to read the accompanying article, Good Negroes Part 1