Walking The Thin Black Line

By Melissa McFadden

There is one voice missing in our national outrage over police brutality: the Black officer. They walk a thin black line every time they put on their uniform. A tightrope, really. On one side is the Black community they strive to serve and protect from unjust treatment. On the other, a racist institution where they experience ongoing discrimination themselves.

Retaliation is swift when they dare to expose the motivation or execution of the many tactics used to brutalize citizens and intimidate minority officers. Retaliation against Melissa began before she was out of her field training and continued until, as the highest ranking Black female officer in Columbus, she was demoted to processing Kevlar vests in the property room–all for helping a fellow officer file an equal employment opportunity complaint.

This is a historic book documenting a perspective not widely known by the politicians, activists, faith leaders, and citizens searching for answers to the mistreatment of Black people by our police. The Black officer is often categorized as a turncoat, while at the same time lauded as the hope to solve the problem. Melissa knows one undeniable truth: police departments need to eliminate the internal discrimination against officers before the country can expect those oppressed officers to create a compassionate force for change.

Many minority officers remain silent. Many leave the profession. A few who have stayed are beginning to speak out and fight back. Melissa has always fought back, at her own expense and to her own detriment. Her mother taught her to never start a fight but never to walk away from one either. This fight began hundreds of years ago. Melissa is still in it and inviting you to join her.

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