Davidson College in North Carolina is offering a new course this fall that will explore the “relationship between Blackness and policing” in the country from a “philosophical perspective.”
Titled “#AbolishThePolice,” the new course was fueled by the increasing number of fatal incidents between authorities and Black people, such as the highly publicized death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
As part of the course, Davidson will enlist Black political and feminist theories to analyze issues of race, incarceration, criminalization, predictive policing, police militarization, surveillance, and domestic security.
The college also claims that Black people with disabilities and mental health issues routinely experience arrest, surveillance, incarceration, and sexual assault at the hands of law enforcement agents “at significantly higher rates than any other race.”
“While current mainstream conversations ask how we can reform the police to lessen harm against marginalized communities, I suggest we begin elsewhere. To understand the root causes of policing, I propose we begin with a deceptively simple question: What is policing?” the course description states.
‘Detrimental to Law Enforcement’
However, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Johnny Jennings described the name of the new course as “inflammatory, charged, and polarizing.”
He told The Charlotte Observer that no matter what the objective is, the title will carry a negative connotation for students. He claims that the course will be detrimental to all men and women in uniform “who sacrifice their lives to protect others.”
The Charlotte Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) agreed with Jennings, saying the #AbolishThePolice course may contribute to divisiveness in the community. It also urges the law enforcement community to remain engaged in civic dialogue to help identify solutions to reform the police.
‘Dedicated to the Quest for Truth’
Despite receiving negative reactions from the police, Davidson said the school is just upholding respect for diversity and honoring the dignity of people regardless of race.
The college also stated that it focuses on studies that are “liberating” and “dedicated to the quest for truth.” As a result, Davidson said its course offerings cover subjects worth studying, no matter the title.
“Davidson assists students in developing humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service,” the school explained. “We hope our graduates think clearly, make relevant value judgments, discriminate among values, and communicate freely in the realm of ideas.”