We're programmed to quickly learn what instances, people and things can cause us harm and to react accordingly to avoid or defend ourselves from the same. Unfortunately, these intuitive alarms are sometimes shaped by outside images. In short, we learn some things by what's presented to us in the media.
The image of a man of color is often associated with aggression, danger and sadly, wrongdoing. This skewed perception is dangerous when your job requires that you make life and death decisions in a split-second. Law enforcement officers have high stress jobs and we recognize that their ability to assess and act on situations is crucial to their survival. It's equally important that they recognize that their preconceived ideas of what a bad guy looks like must change. A black guy is not, by default, a bad guy and the idea that brutal - and in some instances fatal- force is necessary to apprehend a man of color is front and center in the media. Whether we agree with the amount of force being used and the way that law enforcement is being portrayed in the media in the interactions with minorities, the facts and statistics remain the same. There is an issue. There is a problem. Either we come together as a society to redefine protocols law enforcement use when interacting with the public or we will see a shift in how communities see and react to those hired to protect and serve them. At the moment the evidence is clear - men of color are disrespected, disregarded and considered guilty and dangerous from the moment they are approached by law enforcement. That perception needs to change. The video of tennis star James Blake taken down in front of a midtown hotel in NYC is just one image of a man of color that was lucky enough to have a platform to resolve the injustice of brutality officers inflict as matter of "precaution" on their part. Let's stop justifying unacceptable abuse of power and make things right.