Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Police, Black People and Fear

There has been a windfall of conversation, civil disobedience and unlawful protest in response to the police and their responses to behavior or actions that's perceived as aggressively non-compliant. 
When a police officer gives a command the first response for many: Why? The ‘why’ is present even if the citizen is ‘in the wrong’. The ‘why’ is not only an inquisitorial response; it is the beginning of defiant behavior.

How many of us have been caught doing something that we should not have been doing, and with emphatic tenacity became impudent? How many of us have been ‘in the right’ – and became indignant because the accusation of wrongdoing was unjustified…had no basis or validity?

No matter the reasoning associated with the reaction, a police officer more than likely will respond with aggression – and in most situations the protect & serve hostility is the initial stages of defense…the belligerence from the policeman is a defense mechanism which is primarily issued verbally to incite fear and to protect his/her life – not disrespect. That instance of innocent fear baiting and premeditated control induction will eventually be owned by the citizen who may or may not be In the Wrong.

Simply put, the presence of The Police produces uneasiness and fear…especially for black people. And, NO, it is not because blacks are always Guilty of Something (as if black skin is innately connected to law breaking activity).

Unfortunately, the situation…the atmospheric energy in those fragile moments are add-ons to the bellicosity…the air has been polluted with citizenry indignation and authority figure haughtiness. The one in suspicion is rightfully irritated and the cop is rightly overzealous.

Again, the police officer’s intention is to shock the accused…to produce temporary paralysis in an effort to control the situation. He is seeking complete compliance - and he most likely does not care if you are in the right or wrong. He needs to control the confrontation. Questions of clarity are secondary which should be clear indication that the cop is simply trying to protect his life while experiencing the same fear that he has help conjure within the accused.

Isn’t it interesting that this training manual scare tactic does not produce the desired result? 

When I was a preteen my friends and I would take off running at the sight of The Boys in Blue. We literally would run…RUN as if we were frightened…RUN as if the shoplifting of Snicker and Milky Way bars at Mobile Mart and Three R's had finally caught up with us...RUN as if the cops were again strolling through the projects with handcuffs in hand seeking to arrest the black juveniles. 

On the surface we were not afraid. Going to jail was an multiple choice for us like spending our young adult lives working at a furniture factory was an option. College was never an option for me personal, I just so happen to be good at running and jumping...like most "niggers".  

Subconsciously, we were terrified of the police but as I sit here in contemplation I have no idea why we were afraid. It was as if we -with youthful charisma- created the terror...the scary drama. 

Regardless, the questions were abound...Why are the cops here? What did we do? Who called the cops? Did Shirley, the owner of Three R's, see us stealing the chocolate bars? 

At the time..in those childlike moments we did not consciously identify the terror as a generational trait…as a characteristic of The Black Experience that has been cultivated by our past and present.

Men and women of African ancestry have been running from the slave hunter…the police for years. Not exclusively to when we were in trouble or when we did something unlawful. The black man has been on the run from capture every since he became property that needed containment. When he escaped he had to be on the lookout understanding that the hunter was always lurking…when he became free he had to be on the lookout understanding that freedom for him was/is temporary. Arrest has forever been a reality or near real circumstance for black people for the longest time. And, if we choose to believe that the fear of the Arresting Officer (the hunter) has been removed from our generational DNA we are among the foolishly misinformed!

Lastly, what is the origin of this complexity that has most recently resulted in the death of two unarmed overweight dark skin black men?


The obvious has been irresponsibly projected…stated over and over again: the white cop is a racist…he does not regard black life like it matters.

Subconsequently, in the moment…in that moment of distress I find it extremely difficult for any human being let alone a police officer to conjure the following

prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. -Racism defined

It is mostly fear, people! The same fear that has plagued African slaves and Hunters for decades.

Muata Nowe