Why objections to defunding the police are racist

These objections pick up the least sophisticated claims, and they pretend that this is all black communities have to offer.

Black communities have been researching, writing, and exploring the possibilities for community policing and defunding police for years. You and I, by contrast, are not experts on its pros and cons just because we heard the term and read a few articles. If we take the time to read through the research black communities have provided for us, we’ll probably find that they answer most of our concerns. Instead, many of us have come late to the party and had a lot to say. (I’ll admit the irony in me writing this, and will clarify that this piece isn’t oriented towards those well-educated in this questions; it’s oriented towards responding to troubling critiques.)

The objections currently put forward by many evidence a presumption that the proposals put forward by black communities lack sophistication, awareness, and consideration. These objections pick up the least sophisticated claims, and they pretend that this is all black communities have to offer. It’s as condescending as racism.

It may actually be a form of racism. It says, “I can take a cursory glance at what black communities are saying, and reject them as unresearched and impractical. I will fight for the world as I have lived and been comfortable in it.”

The frustration of many black communities is similar in some ways to what I’ve experienced as a gay man (though, of course, also markedly different). I’ve written tens of thousands of words on being a gay Catholic, which I’ve compiled into two books so that people with questions can order them and read through the development of my ideas in an organized fashion. It would annoy the hell out of me if I saw a friend post on Facebook, “Why do gay people identify as gay, versus ‘same-sex attracted’? Genuinely open to dialogue.” An appropriate response from me would be: “You’re not entitled to dialogue if you haven’t done your reading. I’ve put in work so that you can understand. Now you need to put in work so that you can understand.”

I’m not saying that we can’t critique these calls for police reform and defunding. But I am saying that we can identify something troubling in the framing of many critiques that have come out over the last few days. The first step in combating racism is admitting our own inclinations towards it.

Some resources, if you’re interested:

Other related writings:

Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops. 

14 comments on “Why objections to defunding the police are racist

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  13. Okay . . . so why aren’t you referring to any books or articles that actually go beyond calling people racist. I had hoped that this article would either address my concerns that defunding the police would actually make police brutality worse or at least refer me to some place to educate myself. Instead, I’ve been told that I’m blind to how disingenuous I am because I’m racist and just need to be aware of that.

    I can understand you can relate to the frustration of having invested so much time into writing on homosexuality and then be asked to speak on it yet again, as if you’ve said nothing before, but even people I’ve been talking to who are on the bandwagon recently of defunding the police are satisfied with the explanation that it reallocates funds to social services.

    I’m sorry, but all I see is a wall of “Don’t go there. Don’t have your own opinion. If you don’t agree with us, you’re racist.” It says nothing.


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