Over a period of many months we developed a common narrative statement to guide our work. We generated and debated every idea and the specific wording. We all stand behind what we came up with. Below is a brief version of our narrative statement. And here is the full version.
Why is there Distrust between Black Men and Police Officers?
- There is a history of Police being used to enforce and protect an unjust status quo.
- Police and Black men lack a shared understanding and relationship with each other.
- There are underlying issues (poverty, family instability, housing, education, health care, and others) that undermine the ability to build relationships for community safety.
- There are common, dehumanizing, media-driven stereotypes about each of us (both Police and Black men)—that pit us against each other.
We Share These Beliefs
- That we have a common goal of community safety.
- That we can’t police our way out of the problem of lack of community safety.
- That ongoing police training, while necessary, is not the solution.
- That we each catch the blame for lack of community safety, and that we have to get closer together to address the problem and make a difference.
- That people in power think they know best and share no blame for the problems facing us and the community.
We Imagine a Safe Community
- Where people are in relationship with each other and have a sense of community.
- Where people watch out for one another.
- Where the neighborhoods are safe and clean for kids and families.
- Where bad things still happen but justice is restorative and healing, and not just focused on punishment.
- Where police are part of the community, trusted and honored as resources not to be feared.
- Where black men can go anywhere without fear.
How Do We Build a Safe community?
- The first step is to change the story about Police and Black men. Current narratives focus either on Police Accountability Only or Personal Responsibility Only. While each of these narratives makes valid points, the upshot is finger pointing and lack of meaningful change.
- We are proposing a new narrative: Partnership for Community Safety, in which Police and Black men are allies to help the community become safe, developing closer relationships so that Black men feel safer with Police and officers’ jobs are easier.
- Partnerships for Community Safety can also lead to joint work for systemic changes, such as initiatives for Police and community groups to work together together for affordable housing so that people can feel safe and secure in their homes—and officers are not called to handle problems arising from highly stressful living situations.