Healing the American Community
DOI link for Healing the American Community
Healing the American Community book
This chapter takes up race in criminal justice as a problem in community healing from past violence. The chapter asks, what is it that whites often don’t get about race in American criminal justice, and why don’t they get it? Much of the answer involves the past. Majority Americans generally prefer to avoid or minimize histories of racially motivated violence, even though, consistent with the effects of trauma, this history shapes present day fears, anger and resentment. The central examples of race issues explored are police use of deadly force and minority on minority homicides.
The discussion of police use of deadly force begins with the laws that permitted police to shoot nonviolent fleeing felons in many jurisdictions until late in the 20th century. Then the experience of Los Angeles in the 1990s, in the Latasha Harlins and Rodney King cases and the social violence they provoked, is examined. This portion of the discussion closes with a suggestion of our need for a national memorial to victims of past racial violence as part of national mourning and healing.
The prevalence of black on black homicide in certain communities becomes a vehicle for considering belonging in America. Who counts as “us” in America? Who is fundamentally and unquestionably American and who is always on the margins? After describing rates of black victimization in homicide, the chapter looks at the connection between such homicides and white desires for racial separation, past and present. The discussion concludes with evidence of a white need for belonging that depends on black acceptance, despite the desire of many whites to live racially apart.