This morning, after my husband left to take care of our daughter and I was in the bed by myself, I had a sex dream about a dream man who happened to be black. This is a first for me. I don’t think it’s unrelated to what’s happening in the world and the way I’m choosing to involve myself in it.
I wrote in a past entry about how I have this daydream-fantasy of some highly qualified individual facilitating a conversation between the Black and Brown community and the police force. A couple of people responded by saying they don’t believe a conversation would be helpful or appropriate. Even after reading and rereading the comments, I’m still struggling to understand where these people are coming from. I have to admit that my perspective isn’t fully formed yet, either. I’m still putting together my beliefs on the subject. I guess that’s why I am not ready to stop talking about it yet.
I can’t help thinking that my point of view is at least in part inspired by my relationship with my dad. He has a full-fledged personality disorder. Many people in my profession believe that there is nothing you can do with personality disorders. They are considered ego syntonic, meaning the person with the disorder doesn’t recognize themselves as having an issue at all. The problem, in their eyes, is often other people. Their symptoms are also embedded in their personalities. The only way they are said to change is possibly through a huge, traumatic event, and even that doesn’t guarantee anything.
My dad is also directly responsible for years of misery in my life. He was severely emotionally abusive, berating and verbally attacking me repeatedly, often while I was already down, for months and months on end. On a few occasions he was physically abusive. He gaslighted the shit out of me. He coached me on how to be submissive to men, as well as how to sexually objectify myself. He continues to mindlessly make ignorant comments that are hurtful.
I have chosen not only to maintain a relationship with him, but to build something that feels authentic and meaningful and connected. I’ve done this by recognizing his strengths and weaknesses, and then building on his strengths and accepting his weaknesses. When is say I “accept his weaknesses,” this doesn’t mean I accept all of the abusive behaviors and hurtful comments, because I assure you I do not accept those things. I do accept that he has limitations in his ability to empathize and in his ability to be vulnerable.
While it took me many years (and some hand-holding by my therapist), I was eventually able to heal enough that I could identify some of his strengths. For example, while he tends to operate from a totally selfish vantage point, he does ultimately want to be a positive character in my life. He’s very solution focused. And, while he loves to hear his own voice, he will listen if I take the time to calmly and thoroughly explain to him where there are holes in his thinking. By building off of these traits, I have not been able to change who he is, but I have been able to find points of connection—and I’ve seen the benefit this has had in both of our lives.
So, how does this relate to cops? Well, I guess in a lot of ways I think of cops as having a “personality disorder.” As a whole, they don’t appear to think they’re the problem. They don’t appear to show any empathy. They often engage in not just abusive behavior, but murderous behavior. It is NOT okay.
At the same time, they’re not going anywhere. They’re a big enough part of our system that, if we tried to just get rid of them all together, a lot of other important things would collapse too. We are stuck with this dysfunctional and hurtful piece of the American system. So what do we do? I don’t see how we have any choice other than to try our fucking best to work together. Build on the strengths, accept the weaknesses, and DO NOT accept the abuse.
I mentioned in response to one of the comments on the previous entry that I am all about defunding the cops. But it can’t just stop there. There also needs to be communication and boundaries. Like, “Look, we took your money away because you made BIG and REAL mistakes. Acknowledge that and demonstrate a willingness to operate differently in the future, or you’re at risk of being further defunded.”
I really believe that until cops are able to take responsibility for their actions, nothing will change. But we have to ask that from them in a way that they will hear us. I am also in support of protests. I just think that’s the beginning, though. Protests are a way of getting attention, but how we use that attention is just as important, if not more, right? Once people are looking, then what? The legal system holding individual cops accountable for their actions – absolutely yes. But that’s reactionary. We need preventative. I mean, I hope other cops see that shit and feel motivated to operate differently, but I don’t really believe that will work. Not by itself. MORE needs to happen. I think we need to infiltrate the police system from the top down, not from the bottom up.
To me, the “mediator” idea is that someone who is educated and knowledgeable in both the history of the police force and Black History goes out into the community and does the thing I did with my dad—builds on strengths, accepts weaknesses, and DOES NOT accept abuse—with people on both sides of this. I mean, the more we can get the police and the Black and Brown community to come together—even if just on a small scale at first—the more both sides benefit.
The difference between my dad and the police force is obviously that 1) my dad has never murdered anybody, and 2) the police force is made up of hundreds of thousands of individual people. So, when we think about playing on strengths, I think a large part of it is yes, finding the bad cops and getting RID of them, but also finding the good cops out there and empowering them. Again, I don’t see this happening without some kind of objective third party. I’ve just heard too much about bad cops running the show. That’s where the “mediator” would come in.
The really sad thing is that the mediator is supposed to be our government, and they’re full of corruption, too. I think what this long tangent is trying to say is that… we need a super hero.
Last updated April 21, 2021