Letter to the Editor: Black and Blue Lives Matter

Names such as David Dorn don’t appear on signs of BLM marchers but should. Skin in the game? Anyone should prefer law and order over looting and killing, regardless of what skin they have. And the potential for the black police officer to make a huge difference against racism, both individual and systemic, should be seriously examined.

Phoenix Police Reserve, mid-70s: Our training sergeant, a person of color, remarked that in black communities, a black police officer is regarded as one layer below whale droppings. A problem with a solution long overdue; good rapport between cops and community is vital.

Outrage against individual and systemic racism is necessary, but a dispassionate review of factors leading to the problem is also necessary. Asking what profiling and systems really are seems a good way to start.

“Blacks like to smash windows” and “Cops are racists” are two logically incorrect statements that pull us into hateful profiling.

The definition of a system as a regularly interacting group of elements forming a unified whole is deceptively simple, but systems aren’t simple: They feed on themselves like the feedback screeching of a microphone-speaker system. 

But what is this “systemic” thing? Not the individual elements themselves, so it must be the interactions. Think of cops and community at their most basic levels: an officer patrolling a beat. Bad rapport means systemic failure. 

Scale up to the level of meetings between cop leaders and community leaders. Screeching at each other about their “victimhood” and “misunderstood-hood” is systemic failure. A bit of creative defunding might focus some minds. We live in a diverse society. Diversity means components differ from each other but contribute to the good of all. Systemic success!

U.S. Army, early ’60s: In my platoon there was great interest in the heavyweight bout between Floyd Patterson – a clean-cut “gentleman of boxing” type – and Sonny Liston, a “bad-ass-two-years-in prison” type. Liston pounded Patterson. The guy next to me had tears in his eyes when he said Liston represented everything he hated. He didn’t say he hated Liston.

Stan Russell

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin