A very rough description of the Experimental Method is the attempt to hold extraneous variables constant so the independent variable of interest is the one that changes. If the outcome changes the scientist infers the variable of interest is the cause.
In laboratory research, control of variables is much easier than real world research. Seldom in applied research do scientist find constant conditions.
In America we have unrest between the police and people of color. Whenever a shooting occurs between policeman and a person of color many people automatically infer race is the critical variable and for many, the only variable.
Nigeria is the kind of situation social scientists welcome if they are seeking truth. Nigeria is an overwhelmingly Black country, thus race is a constant condition. Since race is constant, the current conflicts between police and protestors cannot be caused by a racial variable. Clearly other human factors can cause conflicts between police and a community.
I am NOT saying race is unimportant in America; race is a factor in police/community relationships. I am saying race is one of several factors that come to play in interactions between police and the public. In my opinion, if we want progress, we must look honestly at all factors.
I taught at South Alabama for 25 years. A few years ago, a Black campus police officer killed an unarmed white student. The officer was not prosecuted. The issue of race was not discussed. Other human factors were deemed responsible.
In my opinion, in all situations involving police/community relationships, race AND other factors should be honestly assessed.
Accepting the idea that human factors other than race may be factors in a shooting is difficult in our current environment. But, in my opinion, if we want dialog not diatribe, progress not conflict, we must be willing to examine all possible factors.
I had an interesting conversation with a long-time good friend. In that conversation, he made two memorable statements.
First, he asked: “Why don’t people understand police are the authority? If there is a misunderstanding it is easier to sort it out at the police station than the morgue.” He went on to discuss several instances where people of color have been shot but were not complying with police requests.
Second, he noted the police have made mistakes and wrongly killed some people but the number of blacks killed by police is far less than the number of blacks killed by other blacks.
Lest you think he is a Southern redneck — he is not. He is Black. He is a union worker. He lives and works in a world my life only tangentially touches.
We have talked often about the bigotry he has faced in the workplace and his life. He is an honest man. He is not afraid to share what he sees on both sides of an issue. I have tremendous respect for him.
He talked about getting work and then rather than Blacks sharing and working together, human selfishness and pride would get in the way of success. One Black would want more than the others. One would think he was better than others. Rather than cooperating for future success, too often the conflicts led to problems on the job and no future success.
In his analysis, “We have to stop killing each other. We have to stop working against each other.”
He lives in a real world where Blacks are human just like the rest of humanity.
Until next week.