Black Cops Don’t Make Policing Any Less Anti-Black
The idea that we can resolve racism by integrating a fundamentally anti-Black institution in the U.S. is the most absurd notion of all
This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.
Amid recent growing calls for defunding police this summer, a set of billboards appeared in Dallas, Atlanta, and New York City. Each had the words “No Police, No Peace” printed in large, bold letters next to an image of a Black police officer. Funded by a conservative right-wing think tank, the billboards captured all the hallmarks of modern pro-policing propaganda. The jarring choice of language, a deliberate corruption of the protest chant “no justice, no peace,” follows a pattern we see frequently from proponents of the police state. Any word or phrase made popular by the modern movement is quickly co-opted and repurposed until it’s rendered virtually meaningless. But perhaps the most insidious aspect of modern pro-police propaganda is reflected in the choice to make the officer on the billboard the face of a Black man.
This is in keeping with a narrative pro-police advocates seek to push on a regular basis in mass media — that policing can’t be racist when there are Black officers on the force, and that the police force itself is an integral part of Black communities. When Freddie Gray died in police custody, police defenders quickly pointed out that three of the officers involved were Black, implying that racism couldn’t be a factor in a case where the offending officers were the same race as the victim.
When I scaled the flagpole at South Carolina’s capital in 2015 and lowered the Confederate flag, many noted that it was a Black officer who was tasked with raising the flag to the top of its…