Blog Entry #12: From Nobody to Somebody & Orange is the New Black

I don’t feel like I am the one who is qualified or whose place it is to make suggestions about how to address the concentrated poverty, chronic lack of jobs and political disempowerment of communities like Ferguson, Missouri and Flint, Michigan.  I am a person of significant privilege, especially compared to the people who live in those communities, so I feel I am probably a bit blinded by my privilege.

The people living in those communities should be asked this question because they are the ones who know their respective situations best.  We should not tell them what they need; we should ASK them what they need.  

As far as changing police practice to improve relations between cops and Black men, young and old, I think that it should be mandatory for cops to wear body cameras that film and record sound during the entirety of their shifts.  I don’t know how much this will improve relations, but it will, I would hope, place more accountability on the officers.  Maybe if they know they are being watched, in some way, they will act more responsibly.  Many people record incidents involving the police and the Black men they are hurting, but maybe it would be different if the evidence was coming from a different source.

I am doubtful that much will do to change law enforcement unless there is a huge shift in culture.  Though it is fictional, my mind is drawn to the most recent season of the Netflix series, Orange is the New Black.  My favorite character, Poussey Washington, was murdered in the season finale by a prison guard.  Poussey is a young girl weighing approximately 100 lb and she is suffocated by a white, male guard who is much heavier than her.  She struggles to breathe and other struggle to help her, but it does no good.  What’s worse, the prison administration actively works to justify the murder instead of rushing to discipline the guard, who was so clearly in the wrong.

It was an extremely sad but necessary scene, echoing the murder of Eric Garner in real life.  I’m anxious to see how it is followed up in the season that is being released in June.

Read more about the importance of Poussey’s death here, if interested:


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