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What is standing in the way of many more people becoming active in the effort to obtain community control of the Chicago police?
What is standing in the way of the 50 Chicago aldermen taking action to place control of the Chicago police in the hands of the people who elected them?
These questions feel especially pressing, given that thousands are projected to participate in a march for community control of the police in Chicago on Saturday, August 29.
I read some very painful words in Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates that help me think about this.
In his book, Coates talks about "The Dream." I invite you to read the whole book to fully understand what "The Dream" is, but my simple summary is: people (black and white) want racism in the US to go away, and "The Dream" is that the simple fact of having more and more black people living a livestyle that is characterized by some material well-being (even affluence), and the privilege that material well-being brings -- i.e. a lifestyle approaching the lifestyle available to white people -- is moving the US towards overcoming racism.
Coates sees problems with "The Dream." A big one is that "The Dream" does nothing for the young man (or woman) who has been shot dead by the police. Writing of the police killing of Coates' fellow graduate of Howard University, Prince Jones, Coates says:
The moment the officers began their pursuit of Prince Jones, his life was in danger. The Dreamers accept this as the cost of doing business, accept our bodies as currency, because it is their tradition. (p. 131)"Cost of doing business" . . . .
(Cost . . . cost . . . where have I heard talk of "cost" recently . . . ?)
The police have the power to ruin our lives, or to end them. Maybe better to just give them a wide berth? Just play along?
But Coates poses a stark choice:
I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. (p. 143)"Live white . . . [or] . . . live free" . . . .
(But will there be a cost?)
And then he goes a step further in condemning the "cost of doing business" habit:
The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos. (p. 151)In other words: the "cost of doing business" habit is a habit we can't afford not to break.
So where are we supposed to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to our comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse?
The 50 Chicago aldermen need to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to their comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse.
ALL OF US need to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to our comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse.
Show up on August 29 in Chicago
(or at similar events in your own community).
(See A Modest Proposal for Chicago's Progressive Caucus: Support CPAC )
#BlackLivesMatter: When all is said and done, how many career politicians in Chicago will have crashed and burned along the way because they couldn't or wouldn't step up and lead on this issue?
(See #PeopleOverPolice: Is This What Democracy Looks Like? )
This tweet seems perfectly timed because of what is about to happen in a few weeks in Chicago.
(See Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop Police Crimes: Effective? )