Years ago, at a social event, a partner at a leading law firm remarked on a series of police brutality cases in the press at that time and earnestly asked me why the black community in the United States had such a strained relationship with police forces. My response, I believe, led him to understand better the historical context for the relationship and has helped make him a better ally today.

In the past few weeks, a series of incidents similar to many throughout U.S. history have ignited a necessary national conversation on anti-black racism. They include the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police; the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by a former police officer enacting vigilante justice; and a conflict in New York’s Central Park where a white woman, Amy Cooper, told the police falsehoods about a black man, Christian Cooper, evoking the trauma of Emmett Till in the collective black American psyche.

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