A few days ago after Alton Sterling got shot there were a bunch of my POC friends who decided to either immediately side with police, or to blame the guy who was shot. In what I can only imagine to be a confuzzled attempt at sharing racist conservative values, some of them decided to share a video of that angry bigot white girl that everyone’s always raving about. Because of course, it was the first time they agreed with her. But was it? Really?
While I personally have never limited myself to believing there is no need for police, or that they should be unarmed or anything silly like that (I’ve known plenty of people who actually needed to die, as they were a threat to too many other humans). I’ve never really weighed in that heavily on the debates that rage on in recent news about police killings. Partly, because much of it is devoid of rational discourse and I don’t agree with strictly emotional conversations, and partly because police violence towards POC was already clear to me from the day I could understand spoken language. When I was a child I knew very well that I should do everything I can to avoid dealings with police, that I should never smile at them, never talk to them. And I learned my lesson when I did. I’ve never smiled at or had a pleasant conversation with any police officer whom I wasn’t already friends with, albeit I’m sure that some people may have had that experience.
The thing is, this was never new to me. The cell phones are new. That’s it. Every old black dude I’ve ever known has shared his stories about shitty encounters with the police and as I grew older and had my own, I started to believe them. Every time a cop threatened me for looking his way, or rose to unprecedented levels of aggression when I asked them for directions in a city where I was lost, it felt normal. I had already developed the ability to swallow my pride long ago, after playground and in house ass whoopings that I’m surprised haven’t traumatized me. That, and having even the slightest inkling that I’m more intelligent than someone has enabled me to slide away from their hyper-masculine bullshit with a smile while I berate them and everything they have ever stood for in my head.
But anyways, the fact that this video is circling around the POC landscape with the “I finally agree” with her stamp is atrocious. The girl’s hatred for niggers is as clear as her love for the justice system, which by association is also, you guessed it, hatred for niggers. I actually wish white people like her would stop dancing around it and say the words, I’d be more comfortable. But what kind of informed people really think that we should “have faith in the justice system,” that we should let the courts decide, that we should rely on an institutionally racist system that has not only been failing black people since black people have been black, but that has targeted and chosen to diminish, extinguish, to stomp out black life since this country’s inception?
And it’s funny to think about POC who want to have faith in the justice system, obviously naive, possibly lacking some experience or educational roots (email me for suggestions), because I can remember a point in my life where I believed we needed harsher law enforcement. Stricter laws, to be tougher on criminals. What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that this was based primarily on my own fear. The terror that I really felt living in concert with and dealing almost exclusively with people who were criminals, those who have threatened my well-being, who have made my life miserable, whom I felt were in need of imprisonment or death. And guess what? They were all black. Some were family, and some I might have desperately called friends. Most of whom I was terrified of or loathed with all my being. They were black however, because I’m black and that is the community that I, that we, were systematically shoveled into. If a community consists of only POC, who have been barred from modern resource, who have then been told to be better, while expected to be worse, what would we expect to happen?
Even though I constantly think about these and several other uncomfortable relating truths, it’s still hard. Sometimes I can go and visit family or to work and encounter what the justice department might consider a “threatening presence” from another POC and be inflamed with fear, disgust, fury all at once. There have been times where I have responded with the whole DSM-5 terror begets terror scenario. And felt disgusting afterwards.
The thing is, for me the issue of police violence is not, or should not be minimized, to emotional appeal only. Sometimes, a much needed battle cry springs from the anguish of an unnecessary death. But let us not forget that there is already a precedent for why a POC might be in the “wrong place at the wrong time” or why we always match the fucking description, why cases against those who kill us so often get thrown out, why people want to draw attention to “black-on-black crime” with no precedent or understanding of why said crime exists, why POC make up less than half of the U.S. population, but represent like 60% of prisoners, why we are constantly written out of history, out of leading roles, be they real or imaginary, why people can hate themselves enough to be hoodwinked by that silly little white girl. And that shit doesn’t have anything to do with merit, it has nothing to do with courage or “hard work,” or integrity. But it does have everything to do with this country’s legacy, from what we consider a glorious old time when the country was great, when we were legally declared less than human for hundreds of years to come.