Now that four corrupt police officers have been charged in the murder of George Floyd, the conversation has shifted to the issue of police reform. I hear that word a lot: reform. It’s popular, but most of all, it’s safe. In fact, that’s why police departments and politicians across the country use the word “reform” so much.
We as a people need to understand the true meaning of reform so that we don’t continue making the mistakes of calling for it. To reform means to strengthen or to make better. From the perspective of the ruling class, reforming the system is in their best financial interest, since it is the ruling class who benefits most from it. Working-class, poor black and brown people have no real stake in this system. Therefore reforming it means little to nothing when it comes to us.
For example, when juveniles were being sentenced to life without parole, people called for reform and they got it, but it wasn’t what they expected, because while juveniles are no longer sentenced to serve life without parole, judges can now legally forced them to serve 50, 60, 70 years or more in prison. And it can’t be challenged. Why? Because the system strengthened itself through reform. The systems are reformed; minorities are always hit the worst, and reform makes it harder to fight against injustice.
We need the opposite of reform: we need revolution. But before your conscious thoughts of violent battles in the streets, remember that revolution begins in the hearts and minds of the people. We can’t change anything until we first revolutionize our way of thinking and feeling. Revolution isn’t about war; it’s about peace. It isn’t about hate; it’s about love. To prove my point, consider this: Jesus is the most famous revolutionary in history, but he also happens to be the most perfect example of mercy, forgiveness, grace, peace, and love, all revolutionary attributes that are abandoned when we simply seek reform. The criminal justice experiment in America has been an utter failure. It’s time for something new.
Thank you. My name is Sergio Hyland from Philadelphia. You can follow me on Instagram @uptownserg.