#BlackLivesMatter (BLM) Was Never About Officer Race
Keywords:Policing, Trust, Power, Institutional Racism
Of course, #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) is about race. However, the ‘B’ in BLM refers to the victim’s race, not that of the officer involved in the interaction. Still, the discourse has primarily been framed as White law enforcement versus Black citizenry. The BLM social movement for racial justice began as a hashtag following the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin. In the following years, #BlackLivesMatter was used to bring attention to inequitable police interactions experienced by Black people, disproportionately resulting in death. The George Floyd case acted as a focusing event for the movement, where a Black victim was killed by a White police officer but calls for #BlackLivesMatter were not because the officer was White. In this essay, we argue that the police system is embedded with institutional racism at the organizational level (e.g., policies, procedures, climate) and that public trust in police is positional, not racial, indicating that systemic changes are required at the organizational level to improve police outcome equity.
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