In his book The Condemnation of Blackness, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad lays out a historical argument for how Black people have been criminalized over 400 years in the United States. And he does so by telling parallel narratives about the history of policing in the North and the South.
These stories share one key feature: the use of brutal force to control Black Americans.
Looking at the broad sweep of police history and at attempted police reforms over the past 100 years, Muhammad concludes it is time to recognize that "police officers and police agencies are incapable of fixing themselves."
"And so the question that has to be asked in the wake of George Floyd — and I think this question is being asked and answered by more white people than I've seen in my lifetime is — do white people in America still want the police to protect their interests over the rights and dignity and lives of Black and, in too many cases, brown, Indigenous and Asian populations in this country?" he asks.
Our whole country is waiting to hear the answer to that question.