Horace's book moves swiftly, interspersing personal experiences with interviews with cops on the beat; police commanders from New York, Chicago, and other cities; activists; public officials; and victims of police shootings. On occasion, the pace slows, most notably during Horace's chapters on police misconduct and efforts at police reform in Chicago. As he introduces his readers to the city, he recounts conversations with three drivers of the car-shares he uses to get around town. The subjects of those interviews are identified only by their first names, and—from my perspective—insights like theirs could have been expanded and amplified had Horace dedicated some additional time to finding Chicago residents to speak to him on the record, take him on walks around their neighborhoods, and invite him into their homes. That, however, is a minor misstep amid 209 pages of solid reporting and trenchant analysis that give Horace's readers a poignant understanding of how it feels to be both a black man and a black policeman. Reading The Black and the Blue will help all of us better understand the formidable challenges that big-city police officers confront every day—and how those challenges are exponentially more difficult when the police officer is a black man.
Even I, who am an old lefty and have never really believed cops were there to protect ordinary people, am shocked by much of what’s been revealed ... Horace has a lot of information that I hadn’t read, and it isn’t just a matter of fine detail. For example, who knew that in New Orleans, cops were not merely accepting graft, but actively robbing Black-owned businesses, guns drawn, and making off with their cash and other valuables? It’s the sort of thing that lives in your head for a long time after you read it; but then again, it should be. The sourcing is impeccable. Those with an interest in Black Lives Matter, in civil rights in general, or with an interest in race issues within the so-called criminal justice system in America should get this book, for full price if necessary, and read it. Read the whole thing. So much of our future depends on how we respond.
The Black and the Blue has enough accounts of police atrocities to launch a thousand Black Lives Matter marches ... Matthew Horace’s analysis is well researched and cogently presented, even if his ideas are not particularly new or creative ... What’s different about The Black and the Blue is that it’s a cop on the force for 28 years making the case for change — an African American cop ... It’s these new stories, heretofore unknown except by the cop perpetrators and their victims, that are most horrifying because Horace presents them as everyday work ... The Black and the Blue, co-written by Ron Harris, a Howard University journalism professor, does an exemplary job of indicting the system, but sometimes what people want is the indictment of an individual officer. After more than 200 pages, the reader is not told whether Horace thinks officer Darren Wilson did anything wrong when he shot Brown on the street in Ferguson ... The Black and the Blue is an important contribution to a growing body of work about minority police officers. Horace’s authority as an experienced officer, as well as his obvious integrity and courage, provides the book with a gravitas that might convince some readers apt to turn a blind eye to the activists and scholars who are the primary critics of racialized policing.
There is frank discussion about bigoted cops, outdated procedures and fledgling signs of reform. In between, Horace offers testimonials from black law enforcement officers ... Still, the most powerful voice in The Black and the Blue is Horace’s own, steady, forthright and rooted in his experiences on both sides of the blue line ... The Black and the Blue is an affirmation of the critical need for criminal justice reform, all the more urgent because it comes from an insider who respects his profession yet is willing to reveal its flaws. Scrolling through its pages can be disheartening. It is overwhelming to contemplate how to root out bias, and stop the killings of unarmed black citizens, when even officers caught committing such acts on videotape are usually acquitted, if they are charged at all.
An opening anecdote in which Horace learns about his own biases during a domestic-violence call is especially gripping ... this hard-hitting, convincing indictment of the biases in today’s law enforcement ... skillfully weaves together Horace’s own harrowing and enlightening experiences with the stories and reflections of those interviewed. Police shootings get special attention, with Horace showing how bias escalates danger. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding and solving these problems, which, Horace emphasizes throughout, start with unearthing our own implicit biases.
Writing with Harris...Horace vividly depicts the surreal challenges faced by African-Americans in law enforcement ... While his tone is knowing and restrained, he appears anguished by the long-term arc of mistreatment and mistrust within black communities ... An astute, unvarnished account that should stand out from the crowd of pro– and anti–law enforcement books.
The hidden dysfunctions in American policing are laid bare in this searching exposé ... Horace and coauthor Harris write sympathetically of the dilemmas of policing, but are uncompromising in their indictment of abuses. Horace’s street cred and hard-won insights make this one of the best treatments yet of police misconduct.