Having been out of town during the events and public meetings discussed here, I write to express much sadness at our Director of Diversity’s approach to what happened. She took the technical approach, which really anyone could have done who understands the relevant laws and policies. But we have a Director of Diversity precisely because we accept that such analyses are not sufficient; they do not reflect the many ways in which minority groups are violated and impacted. Her choice to approach what happened is an analysis from the outside.
My sadness lies in the fact that what we really needed was not done, and that was to look at events from the lenses of the kids who experienced them. Everyone experiences the police differently. In my case, it took years before I could speak about one encounter with my local police – and it was just a stop. I wasn’t detained or handcuffed. Still when overwhelming power is used to isolate (not allowing the kids to call their parents, for example), that experience of domination and helplessness lasts a long time and its impact includes not feeling empowered in other areas of life.
When such personal violations occur, it is only in part a matter for the police or for the official charged with helping us find accountability and reconciliation. We, as a society need to take responsibility, speak up and refuse to accept such treatment of others, especially our children. It is in this spirit that I write to express my sadness about what happened and hope for more action and demand for change.
Rani Parker is a resident of Amherst