Another Black man shot by police, this time in Kenosha, Wis., and the reaction, across the country, may be the most dramatic we’ve seen.
“It’s an outright lie to claim that this country is not racist.” — Peter Blackmer, assistant professor
While attempting to arrest Jacob Blake, officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed and in serious but stable condition. In the wake of the shooting, protests erupted overnight in Wisconsin and turned deadly. A white teenager is now facing first degree homicide charges after shooting and killing two protestors in Kenosha. The NBA postponed all playoff games on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play in protest of the shooting of Blake.
Peter Blackmer, Assistant Professor of Africology and African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University, says that remarks made at the Republican National Convention this week denouncing claims that the United States is a racist country are not looking at the country’s history.
“This nation is founded on white settler colonials and the genocide of native people and the chattel slavery of people from Africa, it’s an outright lie to claim that this country is not racist,” he says.
Blackmer says that now more than ever it is clear that police abolition is necessary in order to begin to uproot systemic racism in America.
James “Baldwin says the only way to police a ghetto is oppressively, and the only way to reform a ghetto is out of existence. Policing is inherently oppressive, what we saw in the shooting of Jacob Blake is a blatant disregard for his life,” Blackmer says. “Police serve as the enforcement arm of white supremacy in this country. The only way to reform police is out of existence.”
Carl Taylor, Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University, says that he believes police abolition may not be the right solution, but that police reform is imperative.
“Since we hit these shores as slaves we have been oppressed and treated very brutally. I think it’s ingrained into the culture,” he says.
Taylor says that one of the most troubling things about the ongoing issue of police brutality against Black people in the U.S. is a lack of outcry from other police officers.
“Shooting [Jacob Blake] in the back should bring about a rebuke from the police community, which just doesn’t happen, I don’t hear the voice that challenges this behavior,” Taylor says.
This article was written by Detroit Today student producer Ali Audet.