Skip to main content

White Children Are Not Taught The Same Lessons About The Police As Black Children


Since the Mike Brown tragedy, I've been riddled with grief. 
Every few minutes I need to disconnect myself from whatever I'm trying to do and breathe deeply in order to bring myself away from the verge of tears. 

All week (white) people have been asking me what's wrong. How do I answer that?  It occurred to me that, to them, this situation is unfathomable. How could an officer of the law allegedly shoot a young man who was unarmed seven times? In what world does something like that happen? I understand that, even though my Twitter feed looks like notes from a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee meeting (or sometimes a Black Panther meeting), while their feeds are business as usual. I realized this when a coworker shared Refinery29's coverage of #IfTheyGunnedMeDown with me on Thursday, and asked me if it had anything to do with the rally I was rushing to. 

In our world, far too often. The kicker is that we, as minorities, know we are not on a level playing field. We know that if Trayvon Martin had been white, George Zimmerman would almost certainly be behind bars. We know that if Mike Brown had been white while jay-walking in the suburbs, he would have received a tap on the horn, flash of the police car lights, and a wagging finger warning him to use the crosswalk. Instead of seven fatal bullets. 

So this got me thinking: do white children have a better way with officers of the law? Did they learn something I didn't growing up black? I decided to ask them. 

I polled a number of my white peers with these questions: Did your parents have specific conversations with you about how to act around the police? If so, what did your parents teach you about how to conduct yourself? The answers I got were telling. 

"I don't think they ever did, no."
"No. I think it was just understood to be respectful."
"No. No, not at all."

I asked the same question of my black family members and peers. 

"Yes, and I will definitely be teaching my children even more."
"Yeah. To do as they say."
"To kiss their ass, basically."

I grew up with a clear idea about police brutality. Watching footage of Civil Rights era marches and the Rodney King incident/Watts Riots was part of my childhood. My parents taught me clearly how to act, speak, carry myself around officers of the law and around white people in authority. It's something we are taught and something ingrained in us due, in part, to the history of brutality against our people. 

Why aren't white children taught the same the same thing? Because there's no need. Because police brutality against young, unarmed white men is not a recurring and trending issue. In elementary school, police officers were always depicted as jolly, smiling figures here to keep us safe. As we grow older, that view changes drastically. The police do not make me feel safe. Now, more than ever, I am just as afraid of the LAPD as I am of a potential mugger in an alley. For my white friends, cops are here to cancel the fun. For young black men, they could very well cancel life and escape any sort of punishment. That's an unsettling fact. What has happened makes me constantly sick to my stomach. But if the only thing we achieve is a race-wide awareness of what's been going on for years, that's a start. Step by step, perhaps one day we can teach our black children that the police are here to protect and serve. 



Popular posts from this blog

Justice for Georgina, aka Go See Get Out Immediately

In Get Out, the brilliant new Jordan Peele film, black people are used by white people's brains. 
That's the shortest explanation, as there are so many levels to the movie. I'm typically not one to see scary movies (I can't even get through Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video), but when I read about this movie's perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes and the raving reviews from critics, I had to go and support this film from a black director with black stars.

I'm not a fan of scary movies. They always give me nightmares. Before I saw the film, a coworker assured me that I wouldn't have nightmares after watching Get Out. He was right and wrong. I didn't have nightmares about monsters lurking in dark corners, but I stayed awake unpacking all of the themes and metaphors of the film. In doing so, a big part of why I wasn't afraid occurred to me: These …

Sex. Dirty, Dirty Sex

Friends, I have something I have to let you know - if you don't know already: Sex is disgusting. 
Seriously, think about it. Ew, don't think about it.  Yes, it feels fantastic. If you're with the right person at the right time it feels out-of-this-world incredible (fireworks, much?).  But have you ever stopped to think about what you're doing? Like, literally?
You're placing your most private parts into someone else's most private parts. Or allowing someone to place their most private parts into yours, depending on your gender/sexual preference. That's GROSS, people! Sure we ignore it because it just feels so damn good. But come on, ew!
Then throw on top of that the consequences of this nasty habit we have:  1. A baby. Oh yes, this is a consequence. Particularly if you're not currently in the market for an infant. I don't even want to think about what that does to the body. There's no turning back from a baby. Well, there is, but that's ano…

How The New Prince Album(s) Wrecked My Life – In The Best Possible Way

If you don't know, now you know: Prince dropped an album yesterday called ART OFFICIAL AGE, and also brought us the debut album from his chick trio 3RDEYEGIRL titled PLECTRUMELECTRUM. 
 The Almighty Prince has been teasing us with new music for quite awhile now, dropping singles like "Breakfast Can Wait" long before the new album was announced. But then came the catchy and sexy "U Know" and the news that Prince would give us the first breath of new music since 20Ten in 2010. 
I've spent all of yesterday and today listening to these albums and I'm still not done. No surprise: Prince is blowing my mind. I'm a sucker for an album that tells a story, and this one tells a tale that's futuristic and retrospective at the same damn time. How? Prince, that's how. There's a wondering feeling that the protagonist is trying to find his place in life and love, only to discover (with the help of a guiding being) that he is everything, everything is h…