Wash, Rinse and Repeat, the Cycle of Futility
I have a number of outstanding friends one of whom is Armando Simmons the founder and CEO of Simmons Design, a forward leaning small business located in Dallas, Texas. Our conversations run the gamut of issues ranging from the personal, to business, to the political.
As African-American males, we know only too well the inherent danger of adverse contact with the police. So like the rest of the nation, our most recent discussion focused on the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri, and the failure of legal system to indict the officers involved in their passing.
We noted how these incidents repeat themselves with alarming frequency, how American society and African-Americans in particular are in a rut, running as fast as we can on a treadmill to nowhere. We marveled at our insistence on pursuing tactics that have proven to be ineffective and how despite all of the marches and protests in which we engage, nothing seems to change. During our discussion, Armando dubbed this condition the wash, rinse and repeat cycle, as brilliant an observation as I have ever heard.
Like cleaning a dirty toilet, we avoid the intersection of race, law enforcement and the criminal justice system for as long as we can. We deal with this and other political/social conundrums if and only if they become unavoidable.
The Ferguson situation reveals our true nature. Akin to primitive, stone-age tribes, we clean our clothes in rivers of intemperance and confrontation, beating them with rocks of intransigence and bile. We then rinse our dirty laundry in these polluted waters and spin our shortcomings in ways that advance certain agendas rather than solve pressing problems. We grow increasing tired of the not so expert experts and hired assassins who are no smarter or more insightful than anyone else yet dominate the discussion.
Little wonder the impurities remain. And the entire process is so distasteful that we avoid our problems until they manifest themselves yet again, often reaching critical mass. This is the process to which we adhere. Wash, rinse and repeat, the cycle of futility never ends.
The Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations, the Ray Rice domestic violence matter, the immigration debate, global warming, the war on terror and the threatened impeachment of yet another President are but the latest examples of the wash, rinse and repeat syndrome. Prior examples of the condition include the Rodney King and O. J. Simpson affairs.
One solution to breaking the cycle of futility is to avoid the half a loaf approach. Blackacre has not hesitated to point out the ‘thugocracy’, ‘pimpology’ and ‘playa’ disorder that besmirch African-American culture. We have decried the irresponsibility, violence and criminality that exist within the African-American community and the problem of black on black crime.
Even if racism does exist, which it most certainly does, said racism neither justifies, permits, excuses nor causes us to be at our worst. It instead obligates us to be at our best. And we are not at our best by embracing that which is destructive of the black community.
Similarly, Blackacre gives no pass to the culture of violence and racial profiling that exist within the criminal justice system. Nor do we excuse police misconduct in the form of shoot first and asks questions later. Law enforcement gets away with this nonsense because there is and always has been an assortment of powerful, politically connected unions and interest whose only purpose is to protect the police at all costs, whether right or wrong. This is a group to which we do not belong.
And while the failure to indict the officer in the Michael Brown case is arguably defensible, the same can not be said concerning Eric Garner who was murdered by the police. The same applies to the Cleveland situations where within two seconds of exiting his police car, an officer shot and killed a twelve-year-old black child holding a toy gun. It has also been reported that a Dallas officer fatally wounded an unarmed black male in a stairwell and contacted his union representative before calling for an ambulance twenty minutes after the shooting. This type of blatant disregard for human life should be of concern to us all.
The point we make is simply this. As a society, we cannot complain about the criminality of young black males without also complaining about the culture of corruption within law enforcement. As African-Americans, we cannot demand accountable of the police without applying the same standard to ourselves.
Nor can we complain of domestic violence only when it applies to women while ignoring male victims or those who make false allegations of abuse. And we cannot gripe about others playing the “race card” when we routinely employ the same tactic. And no matter what, we cannot burn down our own community. A little class, humility and honesty on all sides of every issue are long overdue.
We applaud the Eric Garner demonstrators for their nonviolent and non destructive approach,. Nonetheless, marching and protesting while positive, are simply not enough. Such tactics may temporarily make us feel better, but accomplish little. Voting, requiring officers to have uniform mounted cameras and developing powerful organizations to counter police unions are better options.
In conclusion, in order to break the cycle of futility, we must seek solutions that work rather than tactics which are comfortable yet ineffective. All sides must pursue dialogue and compromise versus wrath and inflexibility. Only then can we break the cycle otherwise known as wash, rinse and repeat.
Leo Barron Hicks
Blackacre Policy Forum