Current and former foster youth weigh in on racism and police brutality.
“I can’t breathe” are the words uttered by George Floyd, Eric Garner and many other individuals whose lives who have been taken, stolen, by those charged with the duty to “protect and serve.” If that were my son, my baby, I’d burn down the whole damn city, too. As MLK said, “Rioting is the voice of the unheard.” Persons of color have experienced hundreds of years of pain, murder, slander, and injustice. Rise up, rise up.
Since I can remember, police have been referred to as pigs in my world, as individuals who take perceived power and authority, use it and abuse it. I intentionally say perceived because that is what it is, a perception. Law enforcement, judges, lawyers, detectives, it is a perceived power. Real power is within us, within people. Within the earth in which our feet caress, within the four-legged, winged, and water relatives. When those in positions of perceived power step out of their uniform, their robe, their suit, they become you, they become me. They are we. Human as human as can be.
I hear people often say, “But don’t you believe there are good cops?” Or, “I have cops in my family and they’re good people.” Or, “You’re overgeneralizing and stereotyping.” To me, when a person steps into that position of perceived authority, they step into the position of oppressor, not protector. I will take you through a few reasons why.
At the age of 10 I was purchased by a law enforcement officer for sex. At age 12, I was laughed at by another officer after I called 911 because I was bleeding so badly from being raped. He called me a whore, a prostitute, and refused to render aid. At age 16 I watched my best friend, a beautiful, strong, intelligent Black woman, be held at gunpoint after I had mistakenly called the crisis response team due to self-injurious behavior. Where we reside, the “police” are first responders and showed up before the trained mental health professionals.
The abundance of instances where police have intentionally abused the power they have been given is skin-crawling. The very foundation on which “policing” was built is wherein lies the systemic racism and patriarchal attitude that continues to perpetuate and permeate through the attitudes of those training and currently employed as “law enforcement.”
As a white female, I am afforded a privilege that many in this country do not and will not experience. When I get pulled over, my body does not flood with cortisol or feel an urge to call my mom because I do not know if I’ll make it out of this traffic stop alive. I do not have to fear walking in a “good part” of town and having the police called on me because I look out of place. I do not have to fear being too “rowdy” at a cookout and having a Karen call the police because of the color of my skin. All of these instances have the potential to be a death warrant. These are things I will have to teach my beautiful brown son to fear. These are fears I will carry and dread as a mother. These are fears my sweet boy will have to carry and learn how to navigate.