Relinquishing the Term Police Brutality: Healing After the Dallas Shooting
On the evening of Thursday July 7th, 2016 during a peaceful protest against the killings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, a shooter shot and killed 5 Dallas Police Officers and injured 7 others. This attack against the Dallas Police has been termed the deadliest attack against law enforcement since September 11th.
As a resident of the City of Dallas, I was severely heartbroken and devastated upon hearing the news of this assault on our police force. My initial reaction was anger, followed by days of hopelessness, sadness, and hurting (with many tears to show for it). This past week has been a dark and painful one for our whole nation, and Dallas is definitely feeling that pain.
Thousands of people offered thoughts and prayers to the Dallas Police Department, the victims, and their families through social media and in person at the Dallas Police Headquarters.
Going forward, our country, and the City of Dallas in particular, will begin the healing process in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. As our hearts begin to release the pain, often a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness sets in. It’s hard to know where to go from here when there is so much darkness, pain, fear, and hatred in the air. The tension is felt by all and fear and hate can begin to feel as if they are taking over.
To quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Hate can not drive out hate. Only love can do that.” It’s time for us to show that love will overcome hate, and that light will drive out the darkness.
It is my belief that in order to attempt to end the systematic prejudice and discrimination against multiple races, religion, and groups of people that we must drop the generalizations and begin looking at people as unique individuals. The vast majority of police officers around the country are devoted, heroic, loving men and women that put their lives at risk every day to protect our rights and freedom. The same goes for our military. The vast majority of Muslim Americans are full of love for our country and are working to end the discrimination around their religion. Members of the LGBT community are regular people attempting to live their lives in peace and find a sense of belonging. Black lives matter- and Black Americans need to feel the support and acceptance and freedom from discrimination. The discrimination against all groups of people must be addressed in order for the healing to begin.
When we group people together and make generalizations, such as the false belief that all police are brutal and distrustful, or the judgment of Black people based on the color of their skin, we run a very dangerous path towards dividing our country further apart and putting the future of our country and future generations at risk.
When we lump all the police together in the term ‘police brutality’ we are putting a negative label on all law enforcement. This tends to breed hatred and can even lead to radical feelings of distrust and discrimination targeted at a group of people. The hatred and distrust towards police in general results from the broad label of police brutality and generalizing the actions of the small minority to the larger whole.
The results of these broad generalizations against a certain type of people are seen in the attack against police this past Thursday in Dallas, and the killings of black men during what should have been routine calls and traffic stops. It must stop.
Instead, we should be targeting our efforts towards changing the behavior and bringing accountability to the few officers that abandon the duty and honor of the badge they wear by using excessive force and discrimination. We need to be looking at the individuals, rather than attacking and generalizing the whole population of law enforcement.
As we join in the efforts and show our support for making all lives matter and celebrating the freedom and pursuit of happiness for all people, it is important that we move forward with love in our hearts rather than anger and hate. In order for our country and our great city to begin to heal, we must use empathy and light to drive out the darkness. We need to begin listening to each other, understanding each other, and learning to accept that our experience may be different than another's. When we stop trying to figure out whom to blame, we can begin to rise above the injustice.
Our country must learn to recognize the rights and light in others and end the era of discrimination and the breeding of hatred towards groups of people. We have a responsibility in our generation to show that love will always conquer hate, and that all people- regardless of the color of their skin, what religion they choose to practice, or who they love- are worthy of love, acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness.
The voice and actions of the many must overcome the voice and actions of the few. We must stand together and use our voice and speak for those whose voices have been drowned out.
In love and light,
Laura McLaughlin is the Founder and Therapist at HeadFirst Counseling in Dallas, TX. Laura works with children, teens, and adults to help them learn to love and accept themselves by letting go of the external conditions that hold them back. Read more about Laura and HeadFirst Counseling at www.headfirstdallas.com
Laura can be contacted by calling the HeadFirst Office at (469) 665-9416 or emailing the HeadFirst office at firstname.lastname@example.org