The American Heritage Dictionary defines SOCIAL CONTRACT:
“n. An usually implicit agreement among the members of an organized society or between the governed and the government defining and limiting the rights and duties of each.
“n. An implicit agreement or contract among members of a society that dictates things such as submission of individuals to rule of law and acceptable conduct.
“n. An implicit agreement among people that results in the organization of society; individual surrenders liberty in return for protection.”
I argue, along with many others, that African Americans in Minneapolis were demonstrating that, for them, the social contract has frayed to a breaking point. Or indeed has not even existed, since America refuses to grapple on any systemic basis with the institutional and deep-seated racism that is built into the foundation of society here. The question is not “Are the African American participants of the Minneapolis riots justified in their actions?” but rather, “When will MORE take place?”
AND WHY SHOULDN’T THEY? If I were a person who had black or brown skin, I’d be angry (and also scared, but more angry) ALL THE TIME now. In the background somewhere, at least. Maybe the reason EVERYONE in local African American communities isn’t rioting, throwing things and burning down their local police department is just that they are 1.) living their lives AT THE MOMENT and 2.) they haven’t gotten angry enough yet. But we — every community EVERYWHERE — have our moment of reckoning coming. We can do better: START TRAINING OUR POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN IMPLICIT BIAS TRAINING; HIRE MORE OFFICERS OF COLOR; START COMMUNITYWIDE PROGRAMS IN RACIAL JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION; ELECT MORE DIVERSE PEOPLE ON A LOCAL LEVEL AND MOVE ON UP; TRAIN AND HIRE MORE TEACHERS OF COLOR. Just for a start.