This is the seventh in my series of “Letters to a Trump Supporter,” from correspondence with a family friend who supports Mr. Trump.
Continuing our conversation about race, he sent me a video about Black Lives Matter. Again, I have to emphasize strenuously: This video will be extremely offensive to many of you. Please use your discretion in choosing whether to watch it.
Below is my response.
Dear Mr. ——,
Thanks for passing along this video. It’s really interesting to see how much disinformation is out there about Black Lives Matter.
I debunked most of these claims in my last letter. You probably remember, for example, that poor urban whites are more likely to commit violent crimes than poor urban blacks and that the black community is more concerned about black-on-black crime than about unjust policing. So, the claim that blacks are to blame for a homicide “epidemic” is obviously untrue, and it’s equally false that the black community is ignoring the problem.
This video adds a new comparison: whether cops are more likely to use force on blacks, and if so, why.
The man in the video alleges that blacks are more violent, so it’s reasonable for cops to use force on them more often. The funny thing is, he never actually shows any evidence that cops use force because the suspect is more violent.
But we know that’s not the case.
Roland Fryer, one of the most celebrated economists in the world, published research a couple months ago showing that police officers were significantly more likely to use force on black suspects — by pushing them into walls, handcuffing them when they weren’t arresting them, drawing their weapons, pushing them to the ground, pointing a gun at them, and using pepper spray and batons on them — even if they displayed the exact same behavior as white suspects.
I’m honestly shocked that anyone would even question the notion that police officers are excessively violent toward black suspects. We all saw the videos on the news where cops clearly killed unarmed black victims. We watched them die before our eyes, and we saw that they did nothing to deserve that death. How can anyone pretend that didn’t happen?
Those videos alone are good reason for Black Lives Matter to protest. It’s pretty silly for him to claim that Democrats “need” Black Lives Matter to get elected, since Black Lives Matter is only a couple years old and Democrats have been getting elected for decades.
And it is absolutely one of the most disgusting, unconscionable things I’ve ever heard when he refers to blacks as “slaves on their vote plantation.” This man is degrading millions of human beings. He has stripped them of their dignity and their autonomy, and he has blatantly suggested that black lives don’t matter — that those people deserved to die — and that is exactly where the slogan “Black Lives Matter” came from.
This video is a perfect example of what’s wrong in America today that they are protesting. So I thank you for sending it as a reminder of that fact.
Finally, he has spent the entire video assuming that Black Lives Matter is opposed to the police. It becomes very clear at the end when he alleges that they want to remove cops from their communities. On the contrary, black communities feel that police officers have abandoned their neighborhoods; hence, the high rate of black-on-black crime and their distrust of the police. It makes perfect sense if you actually ask anyone what it’s like to live in these neighborhoods.
Obviously, he has never spoken to anyone in the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s how racism works. The racists don’t ask the victims how they really think. They don’t actually care. They have an unshakeable worldview that their victims are wrong and deserve to be oppressed.
But I understand that you really want to know what Black Lives Matter advocates want, since you sent me this video. I will tell you. They have released an entire list of solutions that you can read at this website. They include:
- Ending profiling and stop-and-frisks;
- Decriminalizing marijuana possession, loitering, and jaywalking;
- Creating mental health response teams that have proven to resolve many situations better than police;
- Disciplining officers who use excessive force;
- Allowing the community to give input into police policy;
- Establishing stricter procedures for allowable use of force;
- Recruiting more police officers of color;
- Requiring body cameras; and
- Ending “for-profit” policing that encourages police to take resources out of low-income communities.
These are very reasonable, centrist proposals. The only way to make Black Lives Matter sound extreme is to completely misrepresent what they say and what they believe. That is exactly what this video has done. I hope these facts help you understand the movement better, and I hope you will consider joining me in supporting them in their worthwhile efforts to make our country safer and more just.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way those of the USC Bedrosian Center.