By Tami Warren
Never would I have imagined myself with a sincere need to defend the F.B.I. I am aware of the historical role the F.B.I. played in the civil rights movement, how Black leaders were maligned and targeted. The disgraceful statements regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made by J. Edgar Hoover. Moreover, Hoover’s disdain for Black leaders striving for the dignity of Black Americans to be treated with fairness and equity, risking their lives, without equal protection under the law. Hoover’s conduct in the F.B.I. earned him a building with his name on it. Being cautiously optimistic, I am hopeful race relations made a 180 degree turn toward equality in the F.B.I., and the targeting of Black leaders, working for justice abated. I am not privy to the intricacies of the F.B.I. yet, I wonder, how many more lynchings or bombings Hoover could have prevented or solved, if his energy targeting and hating Dr. King, were instead channeled into protecting vulnerable Black citizens and investigating criminals.
As we prepare to honor Dr. King’s legacy with a national holiday, it is not lost on me the battles we still face, voting rights, police brutality and of course, the daily challenges with white people harassing Black people about virtually anything. In addition, there is the so-called “Ferguson effect,” indeed, it is a challenge to reconcile support for law enforcement and defending oneself against racial bias as a Black person in America. Still, my desire is genuine to speak out in defense of the F.B.I. as I observe the vehement attacks on the men and women of the F.B.I. by Trump and his followers. It is distressing to see the disregard for facts and the blind embrace of hostility toward law enforcement, because truth is not what Trump prefers. The men and women of the F.B.I. work diligently to keep people safe, methodically investigating crime, revealing truth and upholding justice.
The glaring double standard that exists in how Republicans are choosing to protect Trump, by excusing his damaging actions, behavior, and statements is astounding. If a Black President were to do or say anything remotely similar, Republicans, and dare I say most of white America, would be apoplectic. Black people live with double standards everyday, realizing the treatment afforded to white people, may not be bestowed upon them. Black men, women and children are targeted and killed, not only by police, but also by self-appointed neighborhood watch. The double standard regarding race is real, not acknowledging this is beyond being naive, it is negligent. James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” In spite of the atrocities Black people have and continue to experience at the hands of law enforcement, anguish and resentment do not overshadow the clear and present danger facing America if law enforcement is not allowed the space to do its job in protecting American citizens from adversaries, even if that adversary lives in the White House. The full truth of the Mueller report must be released, America will face the results, transparency is not optional, it is required.
If law enforcement affords Trump special treatment, they do so at the peril of destroying yet another foundational pillar of Democracy. It is no secret white, wealthy men are treated and viewed vastly different in the eyes of the law. The criminal justice system still does not treat Blacks and whites equally by any means, as the criminal justice system has historically operated to the advantage and benefit of those whom are white and wealthy. For those of us who live with actual bias, impacting the structural elements of our lives, creating grave consequences, which may result in life or death; it is disgusting to see Trump, a privileged, white man, bring bias into the realm of discussion, as a means to avoid accountability for his actions. Trump’s attacks on the F.B.I. create the bedrock to disregard truth, integrity and the essential work government agencies conduct. Presidential power in the wrong hands is poison. America is greater than the sum total of one man.