Announcing "We Are Human" Campaign Series
As evident by continuing reports of officer shootings of community members and assaults on police officers by community members, there is a dire need for stronger police/community relations across the United States. Community policing, a philosophy that emerged in the 1980’s, holds the potential to significantly improve relations and promising new steps are being explored. Yet, despite having been around for over three decades, identifying specific approaches that would truly diminish the mistrust between communities and police has continued to prove elusive. This is likely because it requires addressing the underlying societal stereotypes and implicit bias that are at the root of the mistrust. To maximize the efficacy of community policing, we must blend all that we know about effective law enforcement practices with what we know from the social and behavioral sciences.
According to decades of research, biases, stereotypes, and distrust among groups are often caused by a lack of empathy between those who are different from each other. In the case of police officers and community members, each is not able to see themselves in the other and thus implicit bias, stereotyping, and distrust more easily evolve into violence. The long-term solution is, indeed, a form of community policing—but one that is rooted in the recognition of a common humanity, a necessary foundation for building more caring and connected communities.
In response to this empathy gap, the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity at New York University launched the We Are Human (WAH) video campaign in four communities in California (Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, and Stockton). This campaign captures video self-portraits of people answering five questions that underscore our common humanity. Each of the questions has been found to evoke responses that reveal remarkable similarities across diverse communities. The video promotion of our series can be found here (or see below). The complete series will be posted on our website shortly.
The video series is part of PACH’s larger effort to help community members and police officers to recognize the humanity of people from communities that are different from their own. In addition to the video series, we are developing "The Listening Project" where youth and cops will be trained as interviewers and interview each other to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s experiences.