As I watch the news, I am struck by the growing outrage by our government. The problem is, it is not outrage aimed at those who wear the uniform, but at those who would take to the streets in protest!
Year after year, our African American communities are targeted by mostly White uniformed police who often shoot first and ask questions later. Union leaders defend police actions, while people protest peacefully. But all you get from peaceful protest is forty five seconds on the noon news. White reporters, White mainstream America do not understand why it is such a big deal, the killing of another Black person.
After all, hasn’t it always been this way? Not too long ago, lynching was a spectacle that drew crowds of cheering Whites. But today the police are less dramatic, trying to kill while seemingly doing their job. Accidental they call it, a far cry from lynching.
Most Americans instantly believe that if the police are involved, you are guilty of “something” and the police are justified in the use of whatever force is necessary to take that person into custody. Being a prisoner in one of America’s maximum-security prisons, I see the dark aftermath of the equation.
I see Black men with old gunshot wounds, quieting sobbing mothers while on visit. I see children growing up in prison visiting rooms, there to see their father and ask when daddy is coming home. I see correctional officers targeting Black men for minor infractions, in hopes they will say the wrong thing so the officer can send the object of his attention to the hole and deny him the visit he so badly needs.
I talk with 300-pound officers who readily admit their job on a five-man cell extraction team is to block the camera. As a Vice President of the local NAACP Prison Chapter 4072 here at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, I speak with those who, during their arrest, where tased and/or beaten multiple times while being questioned about a crime.
But the saddest conversations are with fathers who realize it is too late for them to have that ever important talk with their child on how to act when the police stop you. It’s a conversation White parents never have to have. White people are not pulled over simply because they are driving a car in a Black neighborhood at night. When was the last time a White person was afraid of being killed when stopped by the police? People do not call the police when they see two White teenagers walking down the sidewalk after dark and store security does not normally follow White customers around the store as though they are simply waiting, believing the customer will put something in their pocket without having paid for it.
What happened in Minnesota is nothing new. Slave owners, and police around this great country have had their knee on the necks of Black people for over 200 years. How dare they stand up and fight back in the only way they can in order to keep those images in view of the world.
Whites say they understand why people are mad, but do they really? How can a man truly know what it feels like to be a woman in labor? How can a White person know how it is, being Black in America?
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.