By Christopher Overfelt
In the US, fear is a primary driver in the relationship between the white community and the African American community. Just as in personal relationships, entire communities can take steps to repair fractured relationships. The first step is ceasing immediate harm-doing. For the white community, this means implementing police reform and ending the war on drugs. The policing model in America is based on a system of protecting white privilege from low income communities of color. This system must be dismantled and a new, community based safety program must be implemented. Legalizing marijuana and taking power away from police unions and transferring it to mayors and city councils are good first steps.
The second step in repairing a fractured relationship is acknowledging wrong doing. This means that the white community in America must recognize that our country was founded on white supremacy and the economic exploitation of black bodies, and that the legacy of that system continues today.
The third step is to take accountability for the harm caused in the past and the present. This will come in the form of reparations and a focused, large scale monetary investment into the black community. Housing, mental and physical health care, education, and infrastructure investments are required.
Conflict inevitably arises in all relationships, even those between the closest of partners. These conflicts grow in complexity when they exist between communities with a history of hundreds of years of abuse. But even in complex societal and political relationships, the steps of individual accountability and reconciliation apply. Ceasing immediate harm, acknowledgement of wrong doing, and restorative action are needed in the relationship between the white community and the African American community in the US.
–Christopher Overfelt, a member of Veterans for Peace, serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors.