UNITED STATES—It has been an issue that I have wanted to talk about for an extremely long time, however, I really wanted to collect my thoughts and really focus on the issue at hand with a blunt reality, truth and some insight that forces us to do some serious soul searching. With the recent National Anthem protests taking place in the NFL, I believe there is no better time to discuss the issue than now. Police brutality, it’s an issue that has seriously plagued the country in recent years, more now than ever before.

So the question we have to ask ourselves is why has there been such a high trend of African-American males being fatally shot by police officers. Is it circumstance? Is it a coincidence? Or do we have to call it what it actually is: racism. Now, let me be clear, I am not someone who is anti-police, my uncle served as a police officer and state trooper for nearly 30 plus years. He made a sacrifice to serve and protect this country, and at any given day his life could have been taken.

However, as an African-American male, I have to acknowledge that being Black in America is not easy, especially when it deals with interaction with authority and the police. I for one was warned at an earlier age by my parents that if you ever get stopped by the police rather it’s in the public sphere or while behind the wheel of a vehicle, COOPERATE. At a young age, I didn’t really understand what that meant, especially when I’m factoring in the ideology that I have done nothing wrong. However, what I did not know at such a young age that I discovered as I got older is: racism is still very prevalent in this country.

Is it sad to say that in the year 2017? Without a doubt, but those Americans and people who seriously think race does not matter or that it does NOT EXIST, are just blind to it because it does not directly impact them, but it does! I swear I have heard so many tales of incidents of people being shot and killed by officers, yet they were not armed, they did not resist arrest, yet every single time these incidents go to a grand jury to determine if an indictment would be enacted on the officer or officers who committed the deed, no one is ever punished.

You might not want to hear it, but should we discuss the racial composition of these grand juries? Is their diversity people because I find it difficult that these incidents continue to happen daily (I mean a lot of these incidents) we might not ever make the national headlines like so many others have in recent years. I fear that because so many officers get off without any consequence, that more and more don’t think about possible repercussions.

I am so thankful for social media nowadays because plenty of these incidents have been captured on video and released to the internet to be consumed by Americans. Without it, many of these cases of police brutality transpire into cases of he said she said, but with concrete evidence it’s difficult to defend something that does not quite add up people. At the same time you have to look at things from the prospective of the officer. They encounter dangerous situations all the time and have to react plenty of times without necessarily thinking. If you feel threatened you’re likely to react. That may be the case in some of these situations, but I’m not buying the assertion that it happens all the time and is justified.

So what can be done to change the rising numbers of police brutality in America? Well it starts with tackling the issue of race in America. Is it uncomfortable to talk about? Hell yeah, but the more we ignore the issue, the worse it gets as time progresses. I’ve said this before and I will continue to say this over and over again: RACISM IS TAUGHT! No one just becomes racist, it is through the actions of one’s parents, yup parents are at the core who teach certain stereotypes and thoughts that are not always accurate.

However, all the blame is not to be placed on the parents, because the media has just as impactful. The constant coverage of certain incidents in the news arena, television, music and film contribute to stereotypes without fully understanding what they are doing. When you put out a perception for people to grab on they start to accept it as being true. This is common for those newbie police officers who come to police a region that is predominantly African-American, it can create issues.

Police sensitivity issues related to race HAS to be a must in the criminal justice system. I mean if there is inklings that a police officer might have racist tendencies that officer should not be a member of the force. Not only is that person inflicting psychological warfare on someone, but it’s tarnishing the police force at the same time. Not all police officers are racist, and the fact that some are labeled or receive this perception because of the bad behavior of others, makes the situation worse. Police brutality is plaguing America daily, and I fear that thinking this issue is going away or we can just sweep it under the rug, you need to think again. Until we discuss the issue and attempt to find a way to remedy it, things will only get worse.