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Well, it’s here. Seeping north and east for lo’ these many months, it finally arrived on my doorstep. There’s a petition now in circulation in Mid-Coast Maine demanding that the Rockland Police Department be defunded. Three hundred or so signatories so far, though it seems only 68 are actual Rockland residents.
Rockland might look like a small town, but it is a city; the county seat, boasting over 7,300 citizens all of whom are hideously oppressed by a total of eighteen sworn police officers, plus a parking enforcement officer and an animal control officer (part time). Oh, and a civilian secretary. It’s a scary bunch. Check out this guy on the right: Does he have “violent cis-gendered male white supremacy” written all over him, or what?
If not, it’s because you weren’t properly-educated. If the signatories to the petition get their way, Rockland’s public school kids will be the beneficiaries of anti-racism training instituted at all grade levels and paid for by “resources” (that is, taxpayer dollars) diverted from the police force.
They’d better get the lead out. At the moment, Rockland’s children have a pretty sweet relationship with Rockland cops, who drop by for lunch in the cafeteria, join in the sledding over at Harbor Park in winter, and help chaperone (and dance at) the prom.
But those Rockland children need to to learn, starting from kindergarten and then every year thereafter as developmentally appropriate, that even if their own, local police officers are an earnestly protective and generally benign presence, they must nonetheless be held accountable for every dreadful thing ever done to any black person at any time by an American wearing a badge (or even not wearing a badge, as in the case of George Zimmerman. Or Ulysses S. Grant). And Rockland cops should definitely be blamed for the 1,112 police-involved deaths that occurred around the country in 2019.
Correction: we don’t have to blame Rockland’s finest for all those deaths. Only the 259 black ones, including the 9 (or by some accounts 13) of the 47 total unarmed victims.
Admittedly, someone who tries to run over you with a car is technically “unarmed” for statistical purposes, but even our tiniest tots already know that if there’s no actual gun or, alternately, if the gun has been aimed but not yet been fired, the rule for cops is: Use your words!
Our children must be taught to see those 1, 112 officer-involved fatalities as especially outrageous given the context. There are only thirty to fifty million police-public interactions every year, and only ten million arrests. It is an outrage that 0.01 percent of arrests result in fatal force encounters and that 0.00047% of victims were unarmed. (Seriously —in a country with three guns for every man, woman, and child, where did they even find forty-seven unarmed Americans?)
(By the way, even if a black man is armed, that doesn’t mean that it was okay for the police officer to use deadly force against him. Even saying the phrase “unarmed black man” makes it sound like it was okay for the police to use deadly force against black men who are armed. Just ask NPR.)
Math is hard, so we won’t expect teachers who’ve had to swot this whole anti-racism curriculum to also be able to explain why 0.00047 is definitely not a surprisingly small number. Especially given how violent America is known to be by absolutely everyone unless they’re discussing black people.
But even an elementary-school kid can learn that the disproportionate number of black men involved with the criminal justice system is prima facie evidence of systemic racism. (Is it sexism that men are also disproportionately arrested and imprisoned? Um…we’ll cover that later…maybe in eighth grade?)
The magic number is 13.8%. That’s the percentage of Americans who are black. Whenever the percentage of black individuals in any given category is markedly greater (or, in some cases, smaller ) than 13.8%, systemic racism is the reason. (Correction: Not really any given category. It’s not systemic racism that 80% of professional basketball players are black, for example.)
First graders should learn that it is important to fight racism. Of course, since you can’t actually fight racism, what they’ll really have to learn about is fighting people. This is tricky because we are otherwise trying to discourage children from fighting. So we’ll have to explain that it is okay to attack and hurt some people. Luckily, police officers wear uniforms and are easily identified as legitimate targets.
See the woman bravely screaming insults at the horrible, violent police officer, kids? She’s a hero.
Why is the horrible violent police officer letting her scream at him like that? Why isn’t he screaming back, or maybe hitting her or putting her in jail? Probably because she’s white.
Hmnnnn. How did this slide get into my PowerPoint? That’s supposed to be in my COVID presentation… notice, children, that the evil policeman is not properly using his mask? Nor is the brave protester, but luckily, protests against racism can’t spread COVID, so she’s okay. Next slide, please.
Children might get confused when they see a police officer who is black.
Lots of grown-ups find that confusing too, but Rockland’s teachers will be taught to say: “Look, kids! See the brave, slightly-naked lady in yoga pants? She’s explaining to the black police officer that she (the black police officer) may think she is protecting and serving without fear or favor, but actually, she’s just cravenly serving the White Man. The white lady might be using words like “token” or “Uncle Tom” to help the black police officer understand that she should give up her career, take off her uniform and help Ms. Yoga Pants dismantle the racist system that has been forcing people to drink and drive, beat up their partners and spray bullets at neighborhood cook-outs.
What happens if little Amber doesn’t want to fight people, or even thinks it’s kind of mean-girl-y…. to fight systemic racism by screaming at police officers, let alone to hit them or aim lasers at their eyes.
“Luckily, you can also fight racism by fighting statues and buildings! Statues and buildings can be racist, but they don’t have nerve endings or blood, other than what you spray on them. Systemically racist buildings like police stations (also Federal court buildings for reasons that will be explained in eighth grade) must be dismantled. Dismantling a racist building looks like this:
“How can you tell that this used to be a racist building?
Right! There’s that bad word “Police!”
“How can you tell that it is now a good, peaceful, loving building? Exactly! We can see a painting of a black person with big earrings, bad words written in spray paint on the walls, and all those mostly-peaceful and also mostly-white people mostly-wearing masks milling around aimlessly.
Sometimes, if there’s been a whole lot of racism, even mostly-peaceful people get carried away by their feelings. Or maybe the evil white nationalists who are even more racist than the normal racists, make them do things by “agitating” and “provoking” and forcing them to smash the windows of a Louis Vuitton store and steal handbags, or maybe burn down the racist police station.
“I know, Amber. That looks kind of scary, doesn’t it? But dismantling systemic racism is so important that it’s okay to wreck stuff, steal, hurt and scare people, use really bad words and make a big mess that you don’t bother to clean up.
(No, Jasper…you can’t do that here in the classroom…Jasper? Jasper! Okay, will the Aide please take Jasper to the principal’s office for some mostly-peaceful restorative justice? Thank you.)
“Wow, kids! Jasper’s being pretty cisgender male today, isn’t he? We’ll just stay away from the broken window and hope, for his sake, that he learns to Do Better.
“Anyway, once we’re done fighting racist people and racist statues and buildings, the result will be a society full of peace, happiness, and complete equality. Since your teachers, your guidance counselors and president-for-life AOC (Please, God/dess!) are so much smarter and more moral than everyone who went before, we’ll easily avoid all the bad stuff that white male Euro-centric cis-gendered heteronormative misogynist racists infected America with back in 1619 when George Washington forced Sally Hemings to chop down a cherry tree.
“And guess what? We aren’t even going to need to create a whole new system! These brave, smart anti-racist system-dismantlers tell us we can replace the bad system with a good one called Marxism…see the pretty red flags?
“Well, yes, Amber. Marxism was also created by a white male Eurocentric cis-gendered heteronormative misogynist racist, but…
“I know you’re using your words, Amber, but…”
“Okay…sweetie… do we need to send you to the principal’s office too?”Published in