(Originally published 8/14/2014 on brillianceisproper.tumblr.com)
I am a Black man who does not like nor gets along with police. But that’s not news.
So many people assume that when Black people or other minorities don’t like or get along with law enforcement that it has to be because they’re trying to get away with things they shouldn’t be doing and the cops keep stopping them or that it’s just a case of ‘I hate whitey’ syndrome. I’m here to dispel all of that.
As a Black youth in America, you grow up hearing screams of “Fuck the police,” “pigs” and other terms from the older generation but you don’t always know why. I grew up with the D.A.R.E. program in full effect and I truly believed the things that they told me. To this day I’ve never taken any drugs, smoked or drank any type of alcohol in my life and I partially credit that mentality to those teachings. Yet I do remember that there was a focus on law enforcement officers coming in to help with the course and they were deeply ingrained into the reading materials. It came down to, “don’t do these things because then the cops will have to come after you and they only come after people who do bad things.” Little did I know that this wasn’t the case at all.
Actually hearing the song “Fuck Tha Police” from N.W.A. as a kid just makes you think they’re rebelling against authority. More of a don’t tell me what to do type of attitude versus actual physical rebellion. But then you learn the truth behind the genesis of the song. It wasn’t created because they were bored, it was created because they were harassed and treated unfairly while on their way to the studio. After a life full of these instances, they got fed up and created the now infamous song. To this day, Ice Cubes’ verse hits close to home.
A young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown
And not the other color so police think
they have the authority to kill a minority
This is the plight that we as the ‘other color’ go through on a daily basis. Being alive and not having control over if you live or die. No, the authority dictates this for you.
Searchin my car, lookin’ for the product
Thinkin every nigga is sellin narcotics
You'd rather see, me in the pen
And because we don’t have the authority to control our own lives, the ones in charge take every opportunity they can to, if not kill us, put us away for a long time. This is what we live with. Constantly being harassed, constantly having our rights diminished. But please don’t take this as an attack on white people because even as Cube points out, cops come in all colors.
But don’t let it be a black and a white one
Cause they’ll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showin’ out for the white cop
I have nothing against white people. Full disclosure, I was married to a white woman and we have two daughters together. I’m the guy that a bunch of Black kids would say spoke ‘proper,’ I read comic books, I hate Tyler Perry and I’m not a fan of most popular rap on BET. On a day to day basis, I have friends of all walks of life, all races and social standings and it’s pretty hard to put me into any pre-named box. I’m not what you would consider your stereotypical Black man. Some would think I’m divorced from normal “Black” life…and those people couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why, as blended as my life is, I understand that racism is still alive and well in this country and it dictates all that is going on to this day.
For those that don’t think this is true, I’m here to pop your bubble and welcome you into the rest of America to see what we see. Let’s start with the big guy in charge, Barack Obama. People like to say that because he’s been elected that we couldn’t possibly a racist country to which I would not-so-kindly respond by saying that you’re an idiot. He was elected but let’s not act like no one voted for other people in each election and ran smear campaigns with thinly-veiled code words for Black.
Saying Obama is proof that racism is dead is like saying that because of a Car and Driver Magazine poll where red cars were voted to be the worlds’ favorite color, blue cars don’t exist. (See how much sense that makes?)
Understand something. It’s not like Blacks and other minorities in this country have been really all that “free” for a long time. I see bullshit excuses from right wing types saying that whites shouldn’t be blamed for other races not being able to get ahead and in a very small way, they’re right. But it’s a VERY small way. Take this into consideration. The Civil Rights Act was only passed in 1964. That’s literally only 50 years ago. I’m sure you know people (or may be a person) over 50. My parents are. Do you know what else is over 50 years old? Lots of businesses. Businesses that were around with discriminatory practices before the Civil Rights Act was passed. And don’t act like it was an easy solution that fixed everything. People voted against it. Rand Paul says he wouldn’t have voted for the whole thing now! People fought back against integration and it was not an easy or smooth fix, and really, still isn’t.
And a lot of those people who ran those businesses passed them down to other family members who run them now. Their parents and grandparents grew up thinking a certain way and were completely okay with discrimination. Do you really think that because a law was passed that they didn’t pass this biased way of thinking down the line? Are you one of those naïve enough to believe that a way of life that went through generations just up and died? And then what? Do you then think that Blacks just up and had all of the money to just easily start up a business and create empires. Again, we’ve only even had the opportunity to do so for 50 years! Money has been in the hands of those who can keep us down for centuries. We’ve got a long way to go before we can catch up and unfortunately we’ve been held down from advancement in certain areas for lifetimes longer than we know. And if you don’t think that’s true, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
So bringing this back around to our distrust of law enforcement, we have been held back in this country until about 50 years ago in which the strategy to do so changed. Now we could move about more should we have to opportunity. It’s bad enough with the conditions that most are forced to live in but most make due. But then we circle back to being harassed where we live. As we’re supposed to understand this, the police are supposed to be a peacekeeping unit that stops crime. Yet it seems like they get bored and are told to fulfil quotas. That’s when people get pulled over just for being alive. For fitting a description. We get searched for no reason and told that it’s part of enforcement. People say that we’re responsible for what happens and why they’re out there so much.
And then something like Rodney King happens. Black man pulled over and beaten within an inch of his life and then…the cops get off. And we know that this isn’t the first or last time this will happen. Why are minorities so distrustful of police? Because it’s been shown time and time again that they will kill us with little to no consequence. It doesn’t matter the color of the cop but it’s been shown over and over again that it matters the color of the body being bagged. What is your personal breaking point for injustice? If your supervisor at work gives you unfair treatment you go over his head. If someone at a store repeatedly shows bias towards you, you go to the management. If this happens enough times with the same organization, you stop doing business with them. Well what about when the only group that’s supposed to be protecting us is killing us off? What do you do then? (And I ask this specifically of those who wonder why we are averse to dealing with police.)
It makes it especially heinous when the worst of these offenses is that we aren’t just being picked off by the police, our so-called protectors, but we’re killed without being able to defend ourselves. John Crawford, III was killed holding a toy gun in Walmart by police recently, yet I don’t remember one person calling the cops on any of the tea party members who walked into Target, Best Buy and Chili’s with ACTUAL guns. How is it that a white man with an assault rifle can walk through the toy isle with no problem, yet a black man with a toy has to be killed, even though he didn’t come in with it? Lets take it even further though…
Where are all of the heroes who were pointing at officers at the Cliven Bundy ranch? How is it that they weren’t targeted but instead, seen as good guys for helping a known criminal break the law? Why aren’t they sitting out at the borders of Furgeson aiming at the cops again, helping their fellow man who don’t have the guns to defend themselves? The peaceful protesters who only asked questions and were met with tear gas should be the ones who need defending more than a racist cattle ranch thief. But racism is dead, right?
Eric Garner is dead and to some, his defiance towards the police what all they feel was warranted in order to have him permanently silenced. I’ve seen idiots say that he shouldn’t have been resistant towards the officers and that his actions caused his death. Yet these monsters aren’t thinking about how many times that Eric was harassed before that day. He was unarmed and trying to stop a fight. This wasn’t the first time he was harassed and before him, Diallo, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin were killed for just being alive. At what point after them coming for you do you decide that enough is enough? Who do you speak to that stands over the people who are supposed to be protecting you but instead are systematically mowing your people down? Did Eric Garner pick the wrong time to be fed up or is it never time to be fed up for us?
I’ve seen other cop-killer apologists get mad because the news doesn’t broadcast anything other than the killing of the 6 unarmed Black people from the last month. They want to know where is the even coverage of both sides and why aren’t we showing when cops do good? That Chris Rock skit comes to mind about what daddies are supposed to do. The cops are supposed to be good! They’re supposed to catch bad guys! But when something negative that should not be happening goes on, it needs to be reported so we can be made aware. And when it seems like there is an epidemic of this shitty behavior that is carried out in the same manner by the same group, we have to be able to call bullshit.
I’ve been privy to all of this. I’ve been harassed myself by the police more times that I feel I should have to say and I’m not a law breaker, not a gangster/gangsta or someone that even supports the use of guns. Yet I’ve been yelled at by the police at a time when I called them and was told about my lack of right to do so, even though I was attacked. I’ve been pulled over just for being me. When I’m in my car I try to keep my eyes forward, I lower my volume and sometimes even turn my hat forward because I already know that my mere existence isn’t appreciated by the protectors.
So when I say “fuck the police” don’t think it’s because I want to or because any of us just want to get away with anything wrong. We just want to get away with being alive.
I am a Black man who does not like nor gets along with police. But that’s not news.