When Will We Modernize How We Treat Each Other?

By TEACHED Intern Zachary Dorcinville

Reading that at least 136 black people have been killed by police officers in 2016 (so far), and that 306 were killed at the hands of law enforcement last year, this gives me a sensation of fear and agony in my soul. The United States Constitution speaks of "We The People" and I believe our country stands for the notion that we, all people, every citizen, will be granted equal rights disregarding race or gender. 

However, the recent killings of black men, most recently of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, shows that others do not share my philosophy. It seems that we as a nation are starting to lose our understanding of what a police officer's true purpose is. Protect and serve? It doesn't feel like this to me.

This subject has an impact on me not only because I am African American, but also because I have had an experience with the police as well. I was driving home with my cousin Kobie after a late night screening of Captain America: Civil War. It was about 12:30 am, and the roads were pitch black with very little visibility so Kobie put on the car's high beams. While we were driving home, Kobie started to reduce his speed, and eventually come to a stop. I was really confused, until I looked back and saw flashing red, white and blue lights. At this point, my heart started pounding. I could tell Kobie was scared too as the officer approached his side of the car. When he rolled his window down, the officer said "Sir, you failed to dim your headlights. Please step out of the vehicle". There were no street lights on this route. If the headlights were dimmed, visibility would have drastically decreased. 

As Kobie was outside the car speaking to the police, I was still sitting in the passenger seat worrying about his fate. After what seemed to be about 25-30 minutes, I knew something had to be wrong. I stepped out the car and I saw Kobie in the backseat of the police car. I started to gasp for air to breathe.

I immediately called my aunt to come to the scene, where now about three police cars were parked. If she hadn't come quickly, Kobie would have gotten arrested for a minuscule offense, of that I am certain.

That night I experienced it personally: our justice system is not where it needs to be. I am a computer science major in college, and I want to help modernize the world. But when will we modernize the way we treat each other, regardless of race?