Blog Post #8: Subjectivity

It is very important, not only as a historian but as a human, to be subjective when approaching historical topics. In other words, it’s essential to be aware of who you are, where you come from, and how it applies to the topic at hand. I personally believe every single individual person on this planet has a unique perspective on life, shaped by their experiences. However, one must understand that because of this, not everyone will agree wholly on any issue. For my topic of violence and abuse of authority perpetuated by the Philadelphia Police Department, this is especially relevant. As a white man from an upper middle class suburban upbringing, I try to keep my privilege in mind when I formulate an opinion on this topic. Although I personally have had very few negative encounters with law enforcement, it is obvious to see many others have. It is also obvious to see that of those who have a negative perception of law enforcement, many are people of color. This is not a mere coincidence. Based on historical research and contemporary observations, it is clear to me that this distrust is the result of centuries of abuse, mistreatment, and profiling of people of color at the hands of police. In Philadelphia, I had no issue finding examples of this. In fact, it was alarming how many there were. So as I continue my research, I keep my privilege in mind, because in the grand scheme of things my personal experience means nothing. However the collective experience of an entire group of people does.

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