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Advocacy, Action, Activi$m, and Accountability

The power of protest and the power of words help in making white people aware of our role in keeping the status quo of systemic racism firmly in place. But you and I know that nothing will change until we back our voices beyond advocacy and into action. Action may be in the form of petitioning school boards to include accurate histories of the experiences of enslaved African Americans, it may be in the form of removing the boundaries of redlining that keep BIPOC individuals entrapped due to systemic racism in politics, and it may be in making educational access more available to persons impacted due to a history that they did not make but have suffered because of white privilege..

This is not my normal post. This is to announce the official formation of The Brett H. Cook Endowed Scholarship Fund as a recognized IRS Tax Exempt 501(c)(3) Public Charity 509(a)(2), and acceptance of the above service mark approved by the U.S Trademark and Patent Office for purposes of fundraising through sale of T-Shirts and Dress-Shirts to fund the scholarship.

Until the endowed scholarship is fully funded and can provide scholarships through accrued interest off the principal, I am making a personal commitment to award a $500.00 Fall Semester Scholarship and a $500.00 Spring Semester Scholarship for applicants who meet the requirements you may read about on the scholarship pages on this site.

I ask you to share this post as widely as possible in order that you may help in funding the education of black, brown, indigenous, and minoritized men and women, and reaching those donors who are able to make this vision happen. It’s time for reparations. Be part of the change. Thank you.

Dr. Brett H. Cook-Snell

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Health Check – An urgent message for young black men and women

Disparities in health between ethnicities is not a new phenomenon, it is as old as the enslavement of black, brown, and indigenous bodies. What some may not know is white American doctors were just as culpable in performing experiments upon enslaved bodies as the Nazis were upon Jewish bodies (Washington, 2006).  The emerging field of epigenetics suggests the results of the brutalization of black, brown, and indigenous persons throughout history has caused these disparities (Menakem, 2017). This brings me to my main point of this blog: If you are young and black, please monitor your blood pressure.

Kidney Failure spelled out with Scrabble Tiles
Kidney Failure (Davis, 2015). cc BY 2.0.

Last week I went for an evaluation to become a living organ donor to donate my kidney. I disclose this not for altruistic reasons or for accolades but because of what I learned during the process when I asked what causes kidneys to fail and the reason people need kidney transplants. The nurse told me that high blood pressure and diabetes were the main causes. A fact that I confirmed:

“Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Your health care provider will look at your health history and may do tests to find out why you have kidney disease. The cause of your kidney disease may affect the type of treatment you receive” [Emphasis added]. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/causes

The nurse continued to educate me that this was more common in Blacks than whites. Another fact I confirmed:

“According to Census Bureau projections, the 2015 life expectancies at birth for blacks are 76.1 years, with 78.9 years for women, and 72.9 years for men. For non-Hispanic whites the projected life expectancies are 79.8 years, with 82.0 years for women, and 77.5 years for men. The death rate for African Americans is generally higher than whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide”[Emphasis added]. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=61

I was even more alarmed when the nurse informed me that hypertension was more prevalent in young black men then young white men. Yet, another fact I confirmed:

“However, the racial disparities in hypertension prevalence remained consistent over the time periods. These racial differences are evidence at all ages. Blacks are found to develop hypertension at an earlier age than whites. An assessment of US children aged 8–17 years found systolic blood pressures to be 2.9 mmHg and 1.6 mmHg higher in black boys and girls compared with age-matched white boys and girls. With the consistent racial differences at all ages it is evidence disparities in hypertension represent a lifetime consideration” [Emphasis added]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4108512/

In fact, the nurse told me one of the best things a young black man can do for his health is to check his blood pressure early, as it may save his life. And yes, he did specifically mention males, but I would suggest it is equally important for young black women to do the same.

References

Davis, S. (2015). Kidney failure [Photograph]. Flickr. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/128573122@N05/17337390301). CC by 2.0

Menakem, R. (2017). My grandmother’s hands: Racialized trauma and the pathways to mending our hearts and bodies. Central Recovery Press.

Washington, H. A. (2006). Medical apartheid: The dark history of medical experimentation on Black Americans from colonial times to the present. Harlem Moon .

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Are you from this country? Microaggressions and racism

Dr. Cook-Snell wearing a kilt (Cook-Snell, 2020).

I was in line at the grocery store this week and chatting with the cashier. She was a young Black female. She asked about my kilt. I told her I wear a kilt so people would ask me exactly that question and it gave me the opportunity to talk about my antiracist work.


“I am an antiracist, too,” she commented, “I’m against racism”.

To which I replied, “I’m trying to educate white people about their own biases and blinders to issues of race and white privilege. I do antiracist education and facilitation”.

She nodded her approval and then added, “I don’t think Trump is the problem, he didn’t cause racism”.

I must admit, this was the first time I had heard a Black person say something non-negative about Trump. I responded, “Well he didn’t cause racism because its been around for years, but he certainly has contributed to bringing the issue to the forefront because of his racist remarks”.

She changed the topic back to my kilt. Jokingly, I said I had the heritage to wear it because I’m primarily Scottish, Irish, and Welsh descended. To which she replied, “Are you from this country?”

This was the first time I’ve ever been asked this question, too. It made me reflect about all the times I’ve asked Black Americans with accents where they were from or Asian Americans with choppy English the same. It is a practice I no longer do and have refrained from doing ever since I started doing antiracist work. But the fact that someone asked me where I was from based upon appearances was extremely was eye opening.


The question appears harmless at face value, but in fact, it is a microaggression. “Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group” (Sue et al., 2007, p. 273). It is a statement that reflects white privilege by establishing whiteness as the norm, even though, in this case, it was asked by a young Black female. The fact she asked the question may have been due to conversation, age, or many other non-race related issues, but it also reflects how she has been indoctrinated into the system of racist thought that is a product of the imperialism and colonialism of my European descended ancestors. Examples of this microaggression and others along with suggestions on how to ask or not ask a question are presented in an article by Ward and Premack (2020). The link is in the references.

I wonder how my cashier friend would have responded if I told her my full heritage of not only Irish, Welsh, and Scottish, but also German and African … funny, but you don’t look Black.

References

Cook-Snell, B. (2020). Dr. Cook-Snell wearing a kilt [Photograph] [Previously unpublished].

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271

Ward, M., & Premack, R. (2020, July 24). What is a microaggression? 14 things people think are fine to say at work – but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/microaggression-unconscious-bias-at-work-2018-6#where-are-you-actually-from-6

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What does it mean to be Antiracist?

Background text pattern concept wordcloud illustration of racial profiling glowing light
Racial profiling word cloud (iStockPhoto.com/kgtoh, 2015). (c) iStock by Getty Images. Purchased for use by standard licensing agreement.


“What do Black People need saving from?”

(asked by a Black seminary professor during a white fragility discussion group that I co-facilitate)


We were talking about DiAngelo’s (2018) analysis of the movie, The Blind Side (Hancock, 2009), in response to a question on white people’s motives when helping Black people. Often, even though white people think our motives are noble and pure, we may actually be operating from a posture of systemic racism. There was much discussion on how can we help Black people and not be seen as racists? It was an honest question from a church group who wanted to act in the way of Christ, and didn’t want that action to be viewed from a position of white beneficence. They did not want to be perceived as trying to “save” a Black or Brown person from racism.

That question rattled around in my brain. “Saving” Black people from themselves is a white supremacist, colonialist and imperialistic concept (García, 2017), directly rooted in chattel slavery. While García (2017) does not support the black/white paradigm of racism because he argues it excludes Mexican American’s [(García’s self-labeling)] and brown skinned persons, the question of the seminary professor hit home, as did García’s comment with regards to “saving”. It struck a chord of truth within my psyche.


Had I been doing antiracist work to save Black people from the effects of racism, or had I been doing this work to expose white people to their systemic racists biases?


I realized I had been doing this from the position of the former, and not the latter. While consciously trying not to be a white messiah of Black deliverance from white racism, I was subconsciously acting as one. This experience continues to remind me how deeply racism is embedded within white culture. It reminds me that even as an antiracist educator, I need to be called out when my racism rears its ugly head.

Since then, I have been grappling with the question of what it means to be an antiracist white person and an antiracist educator. While my answer is not quite congealed into a philosophy of antiracist education, it’s a start.


My antiracist educator role is to expose white minds to the truth of the systemic racism embedded deep within white culture. It is to challenge the status quo of white conservative and liberal minds and transform them into a mindset of active liberation. It is to advocate for change in the policies and practices white culture continues to use to keep Black and BIPOC bodies and minds oppressed. And it is to stand up, stand out, and stand with, all persons fighting for equality.


References

DiAngelo, R. (2018) White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.

García, R. (2017). Unmaking gringo-centers. The Writing Center Journal 36(1), 29-60.

Hancock, J. L. (Director). (2009). The blind side [Film]. Warner Bros. Pictures.

iStockPhoto.com/kgtoh. (2015). Racial profiling word cloud [Photograph]. © iStock by Getty Images. Used by standard licensing purchase agreement.

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Researching Antiracist Instructional Strategies

Dr. Brett Cook-Snell standing out to stand up at Old Dominion University in his kilt, black lives matter mask, and white silence equals white consent t-shirt. (Cook-Snell, 2020).

It’s been a while since I blogged, only because I take a break between semesters. The semester has started, and I am back to blogging. But this time with a twist.

This semester, a black female colleague and I are working on a research project for a book chapter. The research question for the study and that I will be using in an information literacy course I teach is:


How can antiracist instructional design strategies be incorporated into an existing white instructor’s course to push both the professor and the students to critically examine the impact of racism and its systemic nature on our own personal racial biases”?


I am that white instructor. My colleague will document my journey as the qualitative portion of the study. She will use homework examples I provide to students on antiracism and systemic racism. She will also have access to my personal journal as I work through Me and white supremacy: Combat racism, change the world, and become a good ancestor (Saad, 2020). Saad (2020) includes a journal writing process asking pointed questions on white racial awareness. I have made the conscious decision to publish my personal journal on my public blog. The process requires me to be blatantly honest about the discomfort I feel in my own white fragility, white supremacy, and white privilege. My blog also includes those examples of research writing I provide my students. I have been publicly posting these entries for the past year as my commitment to fight systemic racism.

For the quantitative portion of the study, my colleague will recruit students from my information literacy courses to participate and then randomly assign them to control and treatment groups. Control group students will receive homework examples using the topic of accessible instruction and treatment group students will receive homework examples on systemic racism.  Instruction will be the same across groups. I will not know who is participating nor to which group they belong. Two surveys will be administered at the beginning and end of the semester to measure any changes in racial self-awareness and systemic racism based upon group membership (control or treatment).  It is not without credentialing that I approach this investigation. With a PhD in Education concentrated in instructional design, the literature suggests exposure to homework examples may promote vicarious learning (Gholson & Craig, 2006).

I’m hoping by chronicling my journey, forthrightly, and honestly, and providing research based and supported facts with regard to racism, white privilege, white fragility and white supremacy, my students who read my homework examples I provide them, and my readers who follow my public blog, will be challenged to examine their own racial awareness within the greater picture of system racism and work towards changing the status quo.

References

Cook-Snell, B. (2020). Dr. Brett Cook-Snell standing out to stand up in his kilt, black lives matter mask, and white silence equals white consent t-shirt [Photograph].

Gholson, B., & Craig, S. D. (2006). Promoting constructive activities that support vicarious learning during computer-based instruction. Educational Psychology Review, (18)2, 119-139. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1007/s10648-006-9006-3

Saad, L. F. (2020). Me and white supremacy: Combat racism, change the world, become a good ancestor. Sourcebooks.

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What’s in a Name?

Who will you hire? Image purchased and downloaded from Shutterstock.com

… researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a large study in which they responded to over 1,300 help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. They sent out close to 5,000 resumes to a range of employers in both the public and private sectors. The qualifications on the resumes were consistent, but the researchers randomly assigned stereotypically white-sounding names, such as Emily Walsh or Greg Baker, to half of the resumes, and stereotypically African American–sounding names, such as Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones, to the other half. They found that regardless of the employer, occupation, industry, or size of the company, the call-back rate for the resumes with white-sounding names was 50 percent higher than for the resumes with black-sounding names.

(DiAngelo, 2016, 56-57)

Our university is looking for a new president and I can’t help but think if applicants’ names will impact their hiring. I’ve been on search committees before and I know how they work. I know that every effort is made to evaluate candidates on merit alone, but I had never considered how their name may play into their hiring. I can say I certainly don’t think it did in the committees in which I have participated.

But then this happened …

I volunteer for a state health agency and participate in their COVID-19 testing events. I serve on the administration team that makes certain forms are completed correctly, verifies names, and birth dates, and gets the testing packets ready for the medical personnel. This past week I volunteered at a juvenile detention center. My racist event was assuming one of the females that was to be tested was black based upon her name. I based this assumption on the fact that as a teacher, I had only encountered that name for black females. As you can guess by my writing this, I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, I was wrong in a big way.

The white female was being escorted by a black female. The black female was clearly part of the staff as noted by her ID. But still, when verifying the information, I looked at the black female instead of the white female, merely because the name I saw. I had already made a prejudgment that the person would be black. That event has stuck with me all week and I wonder how many other implied racists assumptions I make daily merely because of my socialization.

As record high unemployment rates due to COVID-19 pervades the United States, how will black, brown, and other communities fare over white America? USA Today reported black unemployment in May 2020 rose to 16.8% while white unemployment fell to 12.4% (Jones, 2020). In May 2019, these numbers were 6.2% for blacks and 3.3% for whites. But hey, after COVID-19, everything should return to normal, right? Qualified blacks and qualified whites will be able to return to their jobs or easily find the right job if they only look, right? Probably not for black and brown people … unless their name is John or Mary Doe.

References

DiAngelo, R. (2016). What does it mean to be white? Developing white racial literacy (Rev ed.). Peter Lang Publishing

Jones, C. (2020,. June 4). Black unemployment 2020: African Americans bear brunt of economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/06/04/black-unemployment-2020-joblessness-compounds-anguish-over-brutality/3138521001/

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019, June 12). Unemployment rate unchanged at 3.6 percent in May 2019. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/unemployment-rate-unchanged-at-3-point-6-percent-in-may-2019.htm?view_full

*Note: Edited on 7/27 to change the word “fine” to “find” in the last paragraph. A shout out to my reader who caught that!! Thanks so much.

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Four More Years

No, I am not talking about four more years of the 45th President of the United States, please God, no (and that is a prayer!).

I’m talking about the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent,  2015-2024 (United Nations, 2020). Why am I just now hearing about this now, especially when there is also a joint initiative of my church, The United Church of Christ, with The United Church of Canada (see the video), in promoting awareness of this decade?

(United Church of Christ, 2020).

Mind you, I would like to blame my church denomination for not informing me. I would also like to blame my church home, for not informing the congregation. Truth is, they might have, and if they did, I probably dismissed it. Racism was not on my radar in 2015.

After all, I wasn’t a racist.

Just like I didn’t become white until 1967, and I didn’t see color until 2019, I am only now beginning to understand my whiteness. I am only now beginning to understand how white America has perpetuated and continues to perpetuate systemic racism. I am only now beginning to understand that if change is to happen, it must happen in the pews and at the altars as well as at polls and in the police stations.

White America needs to begin making amends and reparations to reconcile our sins against our African descended black and brown people. Even if that reparation only begins with an inner change in thought and word, as long as that thought and word, lead to action. If we fail to act, the four more years we have left in the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, will also turn into four more years of “Number 45” and his legacy of white supremacy.

References

United Church of Christ. (2020). United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024 [Video]. https://www.ucc.org/un_international_decade_for_people_of_african_descent_2015_2024

United Nations. (2020). United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024. https://www.un.org/en/observances/decade-people-african-descent

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Visibly Invisible

Museum visitors in front of the Martin Niemöller quotation at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.).
Museum visitors in front of the Martin Niemöller quotation at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.).

I am at the end of teaching my 8-week course on information literacy. My students’ last major writing assignment is to summarize all their blog entries into one paper. This is my example for them on my topic of racism.

At 6’4”, I’m hard to miss. Add a white shirt, suspenders, bowtie, and a fedora and I’m even harder to miss.  I used to get several comments a day about my style. People would smile, nod, and acknowledge my presence. But not anymore. Not since I added a “White Silence Equals White Consent – Black Lives Matter” t-shirt to my daily ensemble. Now most white people avoid eye contact. I have become visibly invisible.

Cook-Snell (2020).
Self-Image (Cook-Snell, 2020)

So what changed? I didn’t change. My views didn’t change. The places I go to didn’t change. The only thing that changed was my outfit expressing my own outrage of three more deaths of black men at the hands of white men. Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. One murdered by white supremacists, one murdered by the knee of a law enforcement officer, and another shot in the back.

Sadly, white outrage at black and brown death is already passing. BLM rallies with white participation are already slowing down. The next big news story is increases in COVID-19 are back.

White immunity and white privilege have reasserted themselves. White community has already diluted the message of “No Justice! No Peace!” into “Know Justice. Know Peace.” in attempt to maintain the status quo of white dominance. This change of is another example of minimizing racism to assuage white consciousness.

But as for me, I will continue to wear my T-shirt to be a visible witness to closed minds. In fact, I think I will go order several more.

References

Cook-Snell, B. (2020). Self-image [Photograph].

Museum visitors in front of the Martin Niemöller quotation at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.). [Photograph]. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists

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White rage: Fanning the flames of Black and Brown Oppression

Social media lip-service alone will not solve black and brown oppression.  You and I will, at the polls, in 2020. You and I will, by holding those officials we elect accountable.  To abate the rise of white rage directed at persons of color and end a culture of fear, you and I must make the difference.

After the posts and protests die down, what will you and I do? After the police departments are restructured (if they are), what will you and I do? What we are seeing today regarding the murder of George Floyd is not a new event. The protests are not a new. Posts with #BlackLivesMatter are not new.

Profile: Ferguson shooting victim Michael Brown (2014)

In 2014, protestors of the murder of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, resulted in riots erupting in fires. There was shock and condemnation by white community that black and brown people would set fire in their own neighborhoods. Why this reaction? Why this response? Dr. Carol Anderson says it best, “We [(Americans)] were so focused in on the flames, that we missed the kindling [emphasis added]” (Anderson & Emory University, 2018, 6:59-7:09).

The kindling was not the murder of Michael Brown, the kindling was (and remains) black and brown oppression by the power culture of white America. The kindling was (and remains), white rage directed at black and brown people. White rage are those subversive, yet legal acts, white people use to keep black and brown people oppressed. In an interview with Dr. Anderson on C-Span (Orgel, 2016), Orgel quotes Dr. Anderson on white rage then Dr. Anderson responds:

Orgel: “White rage,” you write, “is not about visible violence, but rather it works its way through the courts, the legislatures, and a range of government bureaucracies. It wreaks havoc subtly, almost imperceptibly. White rage doesn’t have to wear sheets, burn crosses, or take to the streets. Working the halls of power, it can achieve its end far more effectively, far more destructively … The trigger for white rage, inevitably, is black advancement. It is not the mere presence of black people that is the problem: rather, it is blackness with ambition, with drive, with purpose, with aspirations, and with demands for full and equal citizenship. It is blackness that refuses to accept subjugation, to give up”. Tell us more [Emphasis added].

Dr. Carol Anderson (Orgel, 2016).

Anderson: Yes, and so, one of things that we have is a narrative in this society that if only back people would…, right? … If only they would value schools, if only they would work hard, if only they would … fill in the blank. But when you look back historically, African Americans have actually done that, but for aspiring, the response has been a wave of policies to undermine that [advancement].

Book cover. (Anderson, n.d.).

White rage is white peoples’ fear that full equality in socio-economic rights for black and brown people will result in loss of white money, white property, white power, and white prestige of dominant white culture. White people fear this loss of power and control because at our core, we know that we are responsible for the racists attitudes and actions that continue to suppress and murder black and brown people with impunity. It is also that same fear inducing white rage culture that keeps liberal white people from speaking out against black and brown oppression. Fear that they will be put on the alt-right radar screen and suffer the same oppression in which they are unknowingly and equally culpable.

I close this entry with a video from the Ferguson riots (CNN, 2014). It will look familiar, because it looks like protests in the death of George Floyd. There remains the same senseless murder of a black man at the hands of a white police officer. There are the same signs, albeit different slogans. There are the same black, brown, and white faces, albeit with different names. There are the same outcries on social media as there were with Michael brown (Ray et al., 2017).

And yet, nothing has changed. Nor will anything change until white people vote out of office those white legislators who drive the dominant fear inducing white rage culture. Nothing will change until white people of courage standup, standout, and be counted in the political system and elect official who will develop, implement, and adhere to policies guaranteeing socio-economic and educational equity for black and brown people. Are you willing?

 

Riots, bullets, tear gas in Ferguson (CNN, 2014)

References

Anderson, C., & Emory University (2018, April 13). White rage: The unspoken truth of our nation’s divide [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/YBYUET24K1c

Anderson, C. (n.d.). White rage: The unspoken truth of our nation’s divide [Photograph of book cover]. https://www.professorcarolanderson.org/white-rage

CNN. (2014, November 25). Riots, bullets, tear gas in Ferguson [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/5vF4si3hoRA

Orgel, P. (Host). (2016, December 21). Carol Anderson discusses white rage. [Television Interview]. C-SPAN. https://www.c-span.org/video/?419681-4/washington-journal-carol-anderson-discusses-white-rage

Profile: Ferguson shooting victim Michael Brown [Photograph with caption “Michael Brown was due to start college two days before he was killed”]. (2014, November 14). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30207808

Ray, R., Brown, M., Fraistat, N., & Summers, E. (2017). Ferguson and the death of Michael Brown on Twitter: #BlackLivesMatter, #TCOT, and the evolution of collective identities. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(11), 1797-1813.

*Posted on 6/9, edited on 6/10 to add the CNN, 2014 reference in the paragraph starting with “I close this entry…” and correcting a grammatical error in the same paragraph.

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Take Action Now

A CONCRETE STEP YOU CAN TAKE NOW THROUGH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN A TIME OF CIVIL UNREST.

Background concept word cloud illustration of power glowing light. Image purchased for used by licensing through Shutterstock.com

Like many of you, I condemn the deadly act of force against George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement personnel. During these times, we must exercise every right possible to prevent these acts. As an educator, I wanted to know how law enforcement officers are trained in use of force based upon level of resistance. Research suggests a deficiency in the training of law enforcement personnel across the country that may contribute in the use of force based upon the level of resistance. I am issuing a call to action to our elected Senators and Congressional Representatives to mitigate this issue.

Below is an e-mail I sent to my Senators and Congressional Representative. To send the same message to your elected officials, click the take action now button and you will be taken to a page where you can copy the message directly, find your senators and congressional representatives, and be part of the change.

To my elected officials in my district,

Less than 10% of the law enforcement agencies in the United States have written policies regarding the level of force used in relation to the amount of resistance encountered that encompass the spectrum of available force options (Terrill & Paoline, 2012). Less than 30% of law enforcement agencies “instruct officers in the form of a progression of force levels via continuum but do not indicate (i.e., link) how such force should be used in response to varying levels of citizen resistance or only semilink force and resistance” (Terrill & Paoline, 2012, p. 52). These findings, derived from data from a Department of Justice funded study under Grant No. 2005-IJ-CX-0055 (Terrill & Paoline, 2012) punctuate the potential for poorly trained and inexperienced law enforcement personnel to commit violations of amendments 4, 5, and 8 of the United States Constitution (Bruder, 1988; Terrill & Paoline, 2012).

I urge you, as my elected representative, to become a part of policy change to develop national guidelines with regard to level of force used  based upon amount of resistance encountered to serve as training points for law enforcement agencies across the country. Doing so is not only your constitutional obligation as an elected official, but also has the potential to protect to save both civilian and law enforcement lives.

In light of recent events, such as the death of George Floyd, I am asking you to either form, or be a part of a bipartisan committee to stem the tide of violence and be a part of the solution in ending racism.

References

Bruder, S. (1988). When police use excessive force Choosing a Constitutional threshold of Liability in Justice V. Dennis. St John’s Law Review, 62(4), 735-750.

Terrill, W., & Paoline, E. A. (2012). Examining less lethal force policy and the force continuum: Results from a national use-of-force study. Police Quarterly, 16(1), 38-65.