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Dear White People: We Are Not Making This Up! Signed, The African-American Community
I am sure some of you white folks simply think black folks are stone out of their minds. Hell, as a member of the African-American community, there are times I feel the same exact way.
Initially, that is what I was thinking the other day as a television in an African-American barbershop showed a story on MSNBC _ you didn't think I was gonna say FOX News in an all black barbershop did you? _ about a man, who happened to be white, flying a contraption called a gyrocopter, which sorta looks like giant baby carriage with propellers, onto the lawn of the White House.
The Secret Service knew about the pilot, Doug Hughes, 61, of Florida, and his plan to fly his craft into no-fly zone, arrested him immediately upon landing. Hughes said he did the stunt to protest campaign financing in Washington.
MSNBC looped the tape over and over of Hughes zooming his funny looking flying machine only a few hundred feet above onlookers, on his way to the White House, as the host debated whether he should be punished.
Meanwhile, as the patrons in the shop watched and listened to the report, one of them stated matter of factly: "If he had been black, they would've shot him out of the sky."
There was not a dissenting voice in the room.
At first thought, I was like, "Whoa, wait a minute. This is craziness. How can race be a part of this story? This is a guy pulling off some kind of stupid stunt."
However, after contemplating the statement, the gentleman's point is worth debate. Sad to say, anytime there is an interaction between African-American and law enforcement, there is a state of concern. And that has never been more true considering the perilous state of African-Americans, and their relationship with police of late.
With that in mind, the gentleman's hypothetical has merit. For African-Americans, in particularly African-American men, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.
To be clear, this is a statement made not to indict America's police forces as a whole, but to address the obvious elements within some of America's law enforcement agencies that seem to police black differently than whites.
Hardly a week goes by when there isn't some kind of issue regarding an African-American citizen and the police. One of the latest being the shooting of Walter Scott by an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, which was captured on video by an onlooker.
Now, I ask you to look at the video, if you can stand it, and tell me who was REALLY the criminal, Scott or the officer?
Truth is, these acts of violence between black men and police have been in existence for years. The brilliant comedian, Richard Pryor, spoke to the issue, graphically, prophetically, and profanely all the way back in 1974. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf3ZiSZPMYU.
In Pryor's riff about police and blacks, he hits on something that is true to this today. In essence, Pryor is saying white officers live in the communities they serve. Pryor's "Officer Timpson" may go bowling with the guy he just gave a traffic ticket to.
However, on the opposite end of that, the only encounter "Officer Timpson" has with blacks is when he encounters them on the streets.It is difficult to think how "Officer Timpson" can't help but make a distinction between the two experiences.
All of the above leads me to why that gentleman can make that statement in the barbershop, and it be taken seriously. Too many people in law enforcement police African-Americans, and other people of color, differently.
It is a very good bet law enforcement officials saw Hughes as some silly person, who is perfectly harmless. But, a black man flying that machine would've come across as a dangerous lunatic, who might be a terrorist, and who might be carrying some kind of deadly weapon.
I believe there are varying reasons why that is so, but one I would like to point out in this space.
I have a friend who says that people look at the best of white society, and the worst of black society on a daily basis. Therefore, if a white person commits an act of violence, it is only the sickness of that lone individual. However, when a black man commits an act of violence, it is an action that represents his entire community.
And, it is with great disappointment, that I tend to agree.