The black man is no longer invisible in America. He is a moving target.
This is not a social illusion. It is a horrifying existential fact. If you happen to be an African-American male, between the age of 15 and 34, you are nine times more likely to be killed, lawfully and/or unlawfully, by your local police force than any other racial demographic living in America today. This makes the African-American male an endangered species.
How so? There are 321.4 million people in America, 46,282,080 of them are African-American and they make up 14.3% of the total population. This figure is pertinent because the male of the species, young and old, is at risk from two environmental factors: the educational and criminal justice system. More African-American boys are failed and criminalized at school; out of the total 2.3 million inmates behind bars, 1 million of them are African-American men; and African-American males, young and old, from all walks of life, are more likely to be killed by the police in suspicious circumstances than any other group of color. Socially castrated, the African-American male might as well walk around this uncaring earth with a big assed target sown on his back.
The problem is an old one. Racial profiling and a seething, seemingly inherent culture of violent racism that still exists with the rank and file of the police force. What's the solution, putting more black cops on the beat? Tokenism doesn't seem to do the trick in the hood. With great leaden irony, black communities often complain that black cops are more heavy-handed than white ones, more likely to arrest black people. So it's a question of mindset. Black or white, the police have issues when it comes to interacting with members of the black community. Put simply, it's been a case of draw down, shoot first and ask questions later for decades. This is plainly wrong. The police exist to protect and serve the public. They do not exist to shoot black men going about their day-to-day business on the flimsiest of pretexts.
What's the solution? Policing 101. Officers patrol by remote from blacked out cars and rarely do the beat on foot or bike. That has to change. Another consideration is more training to deal with people from other cultures. Many police officers come from provincial backgrounds and have had little interaction with people from other cultures in their community. And there would be few complaints of racism if the police continually brushed up on their interpersonal communication skills and silently expunged their institutional fears, delusions and prejudices, whatever they may or may not be. It's in the interests of public safety for them to do so. A police officer must be impartial, beyond reproach, a friend of the community, and not its foe.
The frequency of white cops gunning down, and choking out, African American men has now become an issue of international concern. People, black and white, young and old, male and female, are protesting everywhere -- even in Liverpool, England, where I'm from. We know what it's like to be chased, beat up and shot down by cops. It's not just an American phenomenon. It's an issue for black males, between the age of 15 and 34, who live in multicultural societies with exactly the same problem. They know first hand that Black Lives Matter because they have been cut short by jumpy police officers in faraway places like England and France, too.
But what about America, supposedly the greatest country in the history of the world? Things are better. Society has changed. We have an African-American president, an African-American police chief in big cities like Dallas, and Atlanta, where I am living right now. Yet these things seem symbolic when you consider the numbers of death by cop incidents not properly addressed by the pillars of society. Until the problem is attended to, and eradicated, by local police forces, the black man will remain a moving target. Was he better off invisible? No. Things are much better now. Society will change. And so will the system. It has to.