Joe Biden recently released an op-ed with USA Today in which he tackles the issues of systemic racism in policing.
Across the nation, protesters are marching for justice after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both were killed by police even though they were unarmed and non-violent. And a major tenet of the marches thus far has been the phrase "defund the police."
Black Lives Matter activists believe that the policing system is based in racism and that the only way to effectively reform it would be to defund and ultimately abolish it. And these activists are right. The first form of what would later become the American policing system was slave patrols in the Carolina counties.
These patrols were created to prevent slave rebellions and keep slaves from escaping. These slave patrols were abolished upon the abolition of slavery, but some argue they influenced the policing system moving into the future.
So, for protesters and activists, it is not enough to simply attempt to reform a system based on antiquated racist systems. In fact, there have been several attempts to reform the police and yet black lives are still dying by their hand.
When Joe Biden, our potential next president, says that he is going to be investing more money into a system that many believed cannot exist without being tied to its racist past, it's a big slap in the face to what some believe would be real justice.
We would all like to believe that this won't happen again, that the protests, the conversations, the riots, and the deaths — above all else — would wake Americans and the police force as a whole up. That something is wrong. That something drastic needs to be done. That killing innocent people is not the way and doesn't have to be the way.
But, unfortunately, as recent history has gone, it is becoming the expected outcome when a black person is stopped by the police that they will end up on the wrong side of a bullet, the wrong side of a knee, or trapped within a deadly chokehold.
This lived reality of black Americans is the reason many are calling for a defunding of the police. However, Biden believes "the better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms."
Reforms have not worked in the past and if this is the outcome we can only hope that systemic change truly can happen and that more black lives won't be lost before it does.