Guess Who’s Coming to School

Guess Whos Coming to School

I grew up in Arizona. I love my home state, but I will be the first to admit that it does not have a great track record in terms of race relations. Over the last couple of years, Arizona’s race related issues usually centered around immigration, though there have also been movements to ban Ethnic Studies in public schools. Seemingly contradictory, Arizona manages to be both the birthplace of Cesar Chavez and SB 1070. The state is no stranger to controversy; this is the same state that did not recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day until 1992 after Governor Evan Mecham rescinded the national holiday on his first day in office in 1987 (Governor Mecham also made news on his last day in office when he became the first U.S. governor impeached and removed from office in 59 years).

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No Justice, No Peace

Today marks Stop Police Brutality Day, a day of action used to expose the lasting effects of police abuse. As many people of color know, police brutality often goes beyond the context of excessive physical force and can also include verbal intimidation or degradation. A study performed by Steven A. Tuch and Ronald Weitzer, titled “Race and Perceptions of Police Misconduct” shows how African American communities have different perceptions of police presence:

…verbal and physical abuse, unwarranted stops—are likely to be experienced as unfair, disrespectful, and intrusive “procedures.”

Unfortunately, cases of verbal abuse or everyday intimidation are not likely to be in the news. Weitzer and Tuch point out that “…more Americans believe that police verbally and physically abuse citizens than the number who report a personal experience with these actions.” With only a portion of police brutality getting noticed, extreme cases, like Rodney King’s, make headlines. The public is only being made aware of a fraction of this epidemic.

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