We may think we're teaching safety when we tell them to disregard the unfamiliar, when we tell them to turn away from strangers, but what we're teaching is intolerance and indifference.
We are at a pivotal moment. Supporters of mass incarceration have argued that locking people away is needed to fight crime, but the imprisonment rate has climbed regardless of fluctuations in crime rates, giving the United States the highest incarceration rates in the world.
Over the past year, countless amateur videos have flooded the internet involving alleged accounts of police misconduct towards citizens.
While in some areas, like LGBT rights and freedom of speech, the United States' human rights record fares far better than that of other parts of the world, in many areas -- including national security, criminal justice, social and economic rights, and immigration policy -- the U.S. has an abysmal record compared to other liberal democracies.
During my childhood I was aware that I was different in color from the majority of people around me, but my father and mother emphasized brainpower, not color. Color was what you were, but not using your brain was a choice.
I am struck by the different lenses through which identical events unfold and the challenges involved in unification.
Baltimore City is not unlike many inner cities throughout the country where unemployment rates for black youth tops 50 percent, and black adult unemployment hovers around 20 percent. Blight saturates neighborhood.
Bad police tactics can lead to bad shootings. Poor planing and a lack of communication between partner officers can lead to excessive force or even deadly force. An inability to empathize and relate to the community served can also lead to devaluation of a human life.
A broken taillight can also be a life-altering offense for some brown-skinned motorists. Among immigrants, fear persists that a minor traffic violation could lead to deportation and the splintering of family.
The cellphone video "reality footage" just doesn't stop. Black men are shot, killed, handcuffed. The shortcomings of their prematurely terminated lives soon become public knowledge, vaguely justifying the shocking wrongness of the officer's action -- always poisoning the grief.
While it may not have been Tammy's intent, posing this seemingly innocuous question is a poorly disguised microaggression that perpetuates the belief that Asian-Americans are cultural and racial outsider within the American context. T
Video or no video, prompt investigation and appropriate action following a police shooting -- just as with any possible crime -- should be the rule nationwide, not the exception. But these incidents are more than just bad-apple cops: The problem of unjustified lethal force is endemic.
How much freedom of expression does Black America withhold in exchange for a measure of safety in White America? What do we gain by that, and what do we lose? How much of our flavor, our life rhythm do we have to suppress daily to fit in, thrive, and survive?
When a community issues arrest warrants for more offenses than it has residents, something's deeply wrong. A democratic society that purports "freedom and justice for all" can't coexist with one that profiles and criminalizes poor people and communities of color.
Maybe random conversations about race can't be meaningful. Maybe we can't expect relative strangers in a busy coffee shop to connect over the subject. But I tire of all the reasons we can't make progress on this issue. People don't want to talk about race, period, not with strangers, not with friends, not over dinner. It's as if we won't acknowledge it.
We must make this country a nation of equal protection under the law with equal opportunity for everyone. If we truly would like to be post-racial one day, we cannot continue to live in denial, or turn a blind eye towards reality, or remain complacent today. It's as simple as that.