With everything taking place in our country right now, it is extremely important that we take it upon ourselves to create a clear perspective of what is going on so we can properly inform our children. Whether we like it or not, our children are very observant and will form an opinion about what they see and hear. If you’re a Melanated parent, the continued police violence against our people is something that must be addressed with your children.
So, the question becomes, how do you go about doing that? it’s my opinion that researching the history of any problem you see in this country can lead you to a clear understanding of why it’s happening. The beginning of our relationship with law enforcement starting during slavery. Slave masters were always afraid of a possible uprising based on their treatment of enslaved Africans. Poor living conditions, working for free, unreasonable disciplinary actions for minor offenses, stripped of their language & culture, watching family members die or get raped was all a part of daily life for slaves. So, logically slave masters felt at some point they would get tired of that treatment and revolt.
To combat this potential threat, slave patrols were formed as a mechanism to keep enslaved Africans in their place. The primary job of the slave patrol was to monitor the whereabouts of all the slaves on that plantation and to do whatever they needed to keep order. If slaves were caught outside of their plantation, they would need to present a pass that stating why they were out. If a pass was not presented, they were either returned to their plantation or killed. In my opinion, this time period set the stage for the type of policing we see today. After the civil war, the slave patrol style of policing morphed into the modern-day police forces but instead of monitoring slaves, they monitored free Africans who now worked as sharecroppers.
The 1950s & 60s would prove to be just as brutal for Melanated people with the rise of organizations like the black panthers who were targeted by the government for their revolutionary views and most of the time, the police were on the front line of these assaults. The police have always reinforced the systematic racism that we have had to deal with as a people. So, there is no simple answer when talking about police brutality. It is our job as parents to figure out a way to give our children this information in the most appropriate way possible based on their age and level of understanding.
Of course, all cops are not bad but agreeing to be a part of a system that has historically targeted particular people makes it difficult not to hold you accountable as well. Teaching children about systematic injustice is not an easy task but it is necessary. knowledge is power and as I said earlier, they will form an opinion about these things one way or another. It is already enough adults out here who are uninformed about the history of our people, do not allow your child to become another one.