Brown: Aiming for higher expectations


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In what would appear to be a commonsense moment, city officials in Florida made a good call banning local law enforcement from using actual mug shots for their target practice. This was after it became widely publicized that police officers in North Miami Beach were taking aim at mug shots of African-American males at their firing range. The discovery was made by National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant, who found a picture of her brother, Woody Deant, with bullet holes through his eye and forehead while visiting the range. The symbolism of all of this was not lost on the general public, prompting mass outrage and calls for the firing of Police Chief J. Scott Dennis.

With so many dead African-American males by the hands of the police, I found myself wishing I had not stumbled across this story. However, my reasoning for this was not because I felt like this was some great injustice requiring the dismantling of a police department and the immediate implementation of new legislation. I wish I never read this article because I’m tired of being angry. I am a young, black male with a mug shot, but I don’t think I reacted to this the way I was supposed to.

Perhaps I would feel differently if I had instead been arrested in North Miami Beach a year ago, and my family had to see a picture of my face riddled with bullet holes in newspapers across the country. I can assure you the symbolism is not lost on me, but it doesn’t surprise me, either. Maybe I was just raised different or I’m more of a hipster than I like to admit, because I was afraid of the police before it was cool. I hate to be cynical, but I’d be lying if I said that hating the police wasn’t in style this season.

Hearing that a police department uses the mug shots of black men for target practice was not some awe-inspiring revelation to me. It certainly didn’t provoke the epiphany that at some point in my life a police officer may raise his gun to make me pray that practice doesn’t make perfect. So no, I didn’t throw on my “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt and flood your timeline with the mug shots that look like Swiss cheese. I think I’ll just let this one ride and wait for Al Sharpton to tell me when I should be really pissed. When I’m feeling up to writing scathing manifestos in my dorm room and fighting strangers in the YouTube comments section again, I’ll let you know. I will say it’s going to take a lot more than the police just shooting pictures of black guys. As a matter of fact, just wake me up when the Department of Justice clears Darren Wilson or someone films the police shooting at least three unarmed black teenagers (preferably with 1080p resolution) … whichever happens first.

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