The Word is Bond has asked independent musicians from all walks of life to offer solutions for a better police state in their respective communities. Minneapolis, MN rapper on the rise, KnowledgeBoy, wrote a personal essay about his experiences with the police growing up as a black man in America.
Essay by KnowledgeBoy
I remember having my first experience with the police. My mom had just brought me over to her friend’s house, and she had teenagers that were around my age. We were all friends and played on the same football team. My mom and her friend were still at the house, and we three boys were just leaving to go up to the neighborhood park to play some hoop. We left the house through the back gate and walked up the alley and made it to the street as one police car pulled up onto the sidewalk. With police sirens roaring, two officers got out of their vehicle and immediately drew their guns.
They ordered us to put our hands up. They slammed me and one friend on the hood of their car to search us, while my friend’s brother stood in the background with his hands up crying. “We didn’t do anything. We were on our way to the park,” he cried. They continued to search us and didn’t find whatever they were looking for. “We thought you were someone else,” the officer said before uncuffing us and speeding off. They left us there traumatized. We never made it to the park. We went back to the house. We were just 13 years old at the time, trying to figure out how to process what just happened.
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.”
With centuries of oppression that dates back to 1619 from our ancestors at Jamestown, what would we expect to happen? The world is at a point where enough is enough. Police reform needs to be one of the many changes we see out of this. If a police officer was not raised in a particular area, never shopped in that area, never played basketball in that area, never bar-be-cued with their community in that area, then they must not have a badge or gun in that area. By placing officers into our communities who are scared to do their jobs without a gun, legalized killings will still exist.
I can’t begin to express how it feels being a young black man in this world fighting to make a good living every day like George Floyd. We can’t breathe at all when jobs won’t hire due to standard hiring practices involving discrimination. We’re judged on assumed characteristics, not our work ethic. We all as people must change the narrative of black skin, and the solution is pretty simple. The focus needs to be on the human, not their skin color. When taken further, you realize the only solution is to completely restructure the role of people in high-ranking positions with any type of powerful control over our communities. By doing so, only then will we make real change by placing the right people in the right roles that want equal opportunity for us all.
The restructuring of the police system should be from top to bottom. For example, in the police force there is still a chain of command. I believe police officers and rank of officers should be appointed by the people in whichever city those officers serve in. Officers should serve an extremely high amount of community service hours before ever receiving a badge also. There should be mandatory programs put in place that involve every officer engaging in community and neighborhood activities, and these programs should be renewed yearly. If this is done correctly, officers will become comfortable with their surroundings without first carrying a gun. I believe all police disciplinary records should be released as public information. Records of police mental evaluations should be released as public information also.
This restructuring is about the police. worldwide, building trust with their communities transparently. The system will continue to fail us until we as people force the system to protect us. Officers should be hired and fired by the vote of the citizens living in the community that the officer is serving. But let’s be clear: These solutions are only some thoughts that I feel are important. I understand that there are millions of nuances involved.
As for Minneapolis? It’s in its rebuilding stage. The news has reported on the negative, showing a terrible portrayal of what we were going through in our city. This is so much that the world can easily overlook how all communities here have come together in cleaning up our city. The people are gathering together in prayer in the middle of the streets. The community is hosting barbecues and feeding their neighbors. Businesses have been gathering resources to donate to the cause such as diapers, water, etc. Concerts are being organized to give back to the communities in which we all deserve. This is the beginning of change and unity in our city, in our nation, and all across the world. For generations, black people have been coined as the minority, but this time around and forever onward we need to be the majority. Our collective voice around the world is now in unison.
No Justice, No Peace. Period.