On January 1, 2022, New York City’s second Black mayor, Eric Adams, officially took office. And he recently selected Keechant Sewell to be the city’s first ever woman police commissioner – and she’s Black, too. But the reason he chose her is actually alarming.
It was her “emotional intelligence,” Adams decided, during a mock news conference where candidates had to respond to a white officer killing an unarmed Black man – a scenario he expects will happen. Sewell stood out because she “[acknowledged] the loss of the victim’s life.”
Let’s unpack that.
Adams, who’s unyieldingly pushing for plainclothes units and solitary confinement torture, said it himself – “it’s the perception” that matters when police brutality happens. In other words, their job is to repair the NYPD’s image after killing Black people … instead of actually killing fewer Black people.
After securing her previous position as her county’s first Black woman chief of detectives, Sewell remarked: “I hope it inspires … anyone who wants to be an officer … representation matters." But here’s the thing.
“Representation” in this system will NOT save us – dismantling the system can. The goal of policing itself is to simultaneously criminalize Blackness AND convince the public that this criminalization is key to our safety. Inducting Black women into positions of power is not the same thing as progress – or liberation!