Thursday, December 3, 2015

What Video Doesn’t Show About Race In America, And Why It Matters

This is an Op/Ed on WBUR’s Cognoscenti by Robert C. Bordone and Sara E. del Nido Budish

The video’s brevity doesn’t make it easier to watch. A 17-year old boy walks along a Chicago street when several police cruisers pull up alongside him. He steps away and, seconds later, a single officer fires multiple rounds — 16, we learn later — leaving the boy dead. No officers appear to come to the victim’s aid.

From South Carolina to Chicago, deeply disturbing video clips are fast becoming Exhibit A in debates over racial injustice and mistreatment. They add legitimacy to voices and stories that have too often been dismissed or ignored by our legal institutions — black voices, black stories. Such videos contribute to the debates about the state of race relations in our country. They encourage accountability and can help advance justice.

But the videos do little to address the root causes of the racial tensions underlying our society. It is easy and tempting to believe that seeing what happened will reveal the truth, and that, from there, conflict, resistance and dissension will be resolved. But we fool ourselves if we imagine that by creating a video record, people are more likely to agree about what happened and how to respond.

Read the full Op/Ed on WBUR’s Cognoscenti