Which brothers and sisters?

I don’t exactly know why, but we noticed the police started stopping gang members. Stopping them in the park and on street corners. We noticed more patrolling by cops in our neighborhood. It was a welcome relief…I don’t know if there was pressure at City Hall or the police department just decided to do something about the crime. But we and the overwhelming majority of decent people in our neighborhood didn’t care “why.” We didn’t really care about “mass incarceration.” We applauded the incarceration of the people who had been victimizing and terrorizing us.

What Black Neighborhoods Want – Steve Bellow

DeCruz’s ‘Big Brown Army’ podcast just hosted Joash Thomas to discuss racism in American Christianity and politics. I’ve written on why and how conservatives can improve their standing with black Americans, and so I agreed with many of the general themes in the episode.

At one point (forgot to note when), DeCruz said something like: “I need to listen to my black brothers and sisters in Christ [when they talk about police brutality or racism].”

While I get the sentiment, my question is…which brothers and sisters? Black people–like all people–don’t agree on everything.

Some black folks view police brutality and incarceration rates as the issue to be solved. And some black folks have different priorities. As suggested by Steve Bellow’s quote above, some black Americans may be fine with even more incarceration. Or at least they’re more circumspect about policing and crime than CNN might lead you to believe.

Beyond the crime issue, since the end of the Civil War black Americans have debated amongst themselves whether racism or socioeconomics should be prioritized. Some reasonably prioritize racism while others–just as reasonably–prefer to focus on jobs.

I’m not trying to settle this debate, but to highlight that the well-intended “listen to my black brothers and sisters” in practice means you listen to some siblings and ignore others.

These sorts of debates inevitably end up ignoring large swaths of black America. Specifically, the black Americans who want more cops and policing in their neighborhoods, and those that don’t really care about privilege or intersectionality.

I get that as Americans we almost have no choice but to crudely speak of “black America.” We should try to avoid that instinct.

Instead we should try to make Jane Coaston’s dream a reality:

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