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The Fact That Most Police Officers Aren't Racists Simply Isn't Good Enough

Updated on August 22, 2014

There Is A Disconnect Between African-Americans, Police, and Whites

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry recently offered a sobering statistic regarding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and other unarmed African-Americans, by law enforcement agencies over the years on her show. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/melissa-harris-perry-delivers-heartbreaking-tribute-to-unarmed-black-men-killed-by-police/

Harris-Perry referred to a FBI study that states from 2006 to 2012, African-Americans died at the hands of law enforcement authorities at a rate of two per week. The study revealed that African-Americans are far more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than any other racial group.http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/police-killings-data/14060357/

You can be assured those results do not come as a surprise to most African-Americans. It's a long held belief in African-American communities across the country that interactions with police can often turn deadly.

In the early 70s, Richard Pryor, the comedic genius that he was, spoke about the dangers blacks faced in dealing with the police. He describe the proper way for a black man to interact with a white police officer: "....I am reaching into my pocket for my license....cause I don't want to be no mother?@%$ accident." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKq3Gm1mbT8

However, because that is a widely held view among African-Americans doesn't mean every officer is racist. It also doesn't mean that every death that occurs is as suspect as Brown, 18, who according to multiple witnesses was unarmed, and had his hands in the air when he was shot.

It would also be remiss to not admit there is a criminal element among a segment of the African-American community that take part in drugs and violence. They kill other African-Americans, and their criminal behavior brings down their neighborhood. They wield self-inflicting wounds on themselves, and the African-American culture they represent. I am quite sure there are times the only way these people can be brought down is through violence.

So, with that, I contend that a majority of police in America operate under the law, and serve the people in their communities with respect.

But here is where the problem, and the disconnect, comes in.

Just like the large majority of police who operate fairly, justly, and serve their respective communities in good faith, the same holds true for the majority of the African-American community.

The majority of African-Americans are law abiding people. They raise their families, go to work, and contribute to their communities. They send their children to college. Consider there are literally thousands of African-Americans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as well as the other schools.

Their vision of the American dream is no different than anyone else's. However, they are thrown in with the small segment of African-Americans who are not looking to make a positive difference.

What we are seeing in the reporting of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., is a classic example of that. The vast majority of the people who are demonstrating over the death of Mr. Brown are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, who are expressing their first amendment rights. Most of them are African-American. But they are being thrown in with a segment of the African-Americans who wish to do nothing but bring chaos.

MSNBC showed a clip of a young, African-American male, running from a store. He appeared to have a liquor, or beer bottle, in his hand as he ran. At the same time it looked as if he was trying to hold up his pants.

There was no way to know what the youngster was running to, or running from, or why, as the clip looped round and round over the commentator's voice, he was running at all. I assure you in the minds of most that were watching he had probably done something illegal. Hell, that was certainly my first thought.

However, when I took more time to consider the situation there were countless other options. He just might have had some water in that bottle and was running to the aid of a protester who may have needed assistance. He may have been running to inform officers of a potential problem.

I am confident that few will think that way because some people, in particularly some white people, which includes some police, judge African-Americans by their worst actions. And, to be quite frankly, that is precisely how some black people judge police, by their worst actions.

Both sides have to change that mindset to bring peace. But the initiative has to come from law enforcement authorities. They are the entity that is charged with enforcing the laws and serving the community.

The day law enforcement authorities start consistently treating African-Americans with respect, the suspicion and anger from the African-American community will subside.



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    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      That book is a movie too (by the same title I think). Netflix it. It should be free. However, the point is that there are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Being black does in fact have, what I would consider, advantages. I just don't believe they have jack to do with power or physical dominence or being able to get girls although I have heard many disadvantaged whites talk about this in the past and I have also heard the same folks impressed by some idea of "cool" that I just don't see.

      Power comes from within and in order to develop it you have to develop confidence in yourself. What you might be mistaking for fearlessness is a profound sense of hopelessness that makes our children (especially our boys) do risky things because they devalue their lives and themselves. Not such a great place to be, I don't think. Attractiveness, self preservation, strength, success..... they all start with faith in yourself.

      The advantages of being black are not something you will experience by any pretense, nor should want to. Why not seek out the advantages of being white and loving what and who you are. Nothing wrong with that.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Big Daddy, I always approve your comments. Because one day I want you to go back and look at how silly you are.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      One thing I do not understand is why did black people let white people push them around? The average black man could crush the average white man like a grape. That is like reading about a fish that bullied a shark. My eyes have always seen the black man as a physically dominant male.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Big Daddy Oreo, I am sooooooo glad you picked that book up! You are about to discover there aren't as many advantages to being black as you think.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      Good news! I just purchased a book called black like me. It is about a white man who disguised himself as a black man in the 1950s to discover life as a black skin man in the deep south. The book is 200 pages long. I will try to figure out what methods he used to make it happen.

      I plan on using black skin to my advantage. I already listed the benefits of having black skin. I also want to confront a black man who was a good friend of mine but in my opinion turned out to be a racist. I want to be black next time I see him. I will bragg about how I look just as strong as he does now. And about I will joke around about how I am going to be the white man's bodyguard. Oh victory in black skin!

    • Sapient Pen profile image

      Sapient Pen 3 years ago

      You're being modest!...Start with One-maybe that will open the floodgates:)

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      Thanks Sapient Pen. I am still in boot camp.

    • Sapient Pen profile image

      Sapient Pen 3 years ago

      Ms Rebecca Motley,why don't you start a hub-you seem very articulate and well informed...join the conversation!

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      I noticed that they always like to make the white man look like a fool on television commercials. That is okay I don't get mad I get black. If I ever get the chance I am going to change my skin color black 4 life. I am ready to show white skin the door.

      also black skin can protect you from road rage. People are much less likely to honk at you or flip you off if you are black skinned. Black skin is like a bodyguard.

      I think society brainwashes white people into thinking white skin is a priveledge because they know they can not control a black faced white man. A black faced white man does not have to be politically correct. A black faced white man is more powerful and more protected.

      Watch state farm commercials I also just saw a red apple a beer commercial that made a white man look like a fool. Once again I don't get mad I get black!

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      Rebecca let me give you and the rest of the world all the benefits of being a black skinned male.

      1. Black skin makes you look stronger and more masculine.

      2. Black skin usually makes you look younger.

      3. Black skin is good for street protection. You are less likely to get robbed walking to your car at night if you have black skin.

      4. Black skin is good for interatial relations. It is easier for a black face to get a white vote, a white girlfriend or a white friend than it is for a white face to get a black vote, or black friend. Black skin is 2 and 0 vs white skin in presidential elections.

      5. The television commercials always portray black skin men as strong and cool and white men as weak and nerdy.

      6. You are less likely to get fired for something petty if you have black skin. Lets say an employee is getting older and they want someone younger and cheaper. I think black skin makes you less of a target.

      7. Even most black men will agree black skin is a hit with the ladies.

      8. Black skin will keep you safe in prison. Not that I plan on going there but I am sure there are some white men in prison that could use some pigmentation.

      these benefits apply 4 males. This is basically 4 white men who wantto change their skin color to black. I know that there is a difference between being born black and being disguised as black.

      You have to understand that the police officer that is being hung out to dry for shooting michael brown is only being hung out to dry because he is white skinned. If it was a black cop no one would bother him. And if a black cop did get arrested for shooting michael brown he would most likely be fairly safe in prison. Nfls shawn taylor got murdered by 5 black men and they are not getting killed themselves in prison because they are black skinned.

      Barrack obama said if he ever had a son he would look like trayvon martin. Well I say if I ever had a son I would want his skin to be just like trayvon martin.

      White people get murdered and robbed all the time. Most white people would not last 5 minutes in the ghetto. Black skin is more battle tested.

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      I believe you are serious, which is sad and it is why I have addressed you seriously and with facts which you seem to set aside in the face of a belief that is supported by little or no evidence.

      What you have shown me is that there must exist a group of people, like you, who have some very very strange ideas about what it is like to be black in America. It is sort of pitiful that such silly stereotypes exist and that they are entirely resistant to alteration when all facts show themselves to be to the contrary.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      I just think the average white man would get more respect if he was black skinned. I think the white man is looked at as weak and nerdy for the most part. I think that black skin would make the white man look stronger. Most tv commercials show the white man as weak. But I don't get mad I get black.

      Rebecca

      I think that a black man is better for protection period. Most women admit that they feel safer with a black man. A white man disguised as a black man could lean on the black man's strong reputation. I would prefer to be black in a confrontation with anybody of any race.

      I think they need to take all the white cops in ferguson dusguise them as black cops so they can get some law and order in that place. If the cops were black they would not have people nagging them all the time about race card drama.

      I know I like to be funny but I am very serious. I think the white community needs a black voice. A black voice can help white people get black votes. Black friends etc.

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      Big Daddy..... black faced persons could protect white people better--- from what?

      When the white english were policing the white irish and scottish they certainly were not doing any better or being any kinder than they are policing black people. 83% of whites murdered in 2011 were murdered by whites. http://rare.us/story/white-on-black-murder-who-rea...

      Whites are more likely to kill their families (59.2% white to 38.5% black) including their spouses (54.4% white to 43.4% black), children (55.4% white to 42.1% black) and the elderly (54.5% white to 43.8% black). Whites are more likely to be serial killers or kill in the workplace or to go postal and randomly murder large groups of people. http://dailykenn.com/522.pdf Not exactly the stats you want from a group charged to protect and to serve.

      Maybe the answer is that white men are incompetent to deal with positions of authority regardless. Painting their skin will not change that, Huh?

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Big daddy Oreo, It is difficult to take you seriously.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      Rebecca,

      what I am saying is that a black faced person can protect white people better than a white faced person. White people are always complaining. The race card, nobody cares about black on white crime, black people won't work hard for me blah blah blah.

      Even though the white man is weak compared to the black man I think a white man disguised as a black man can

      get more productivity out of black employees. I don't think most black people are lazy. But I think there are some who would work harder for a black faced boss.

      black skin would also get the white man off the hook for slavery. White man always crying he can't say this and that all he gotta do Is get some kind of pigmentation surgery and he can say whatever he want. Hank williams jr should get some black skin.

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      Big daddy oreo, seems sort of uninformed to suggest that black police officers don't face racism. I have to wonder what gave you that ridiculous misimpression. Much has been written on the topic. The book Black in Blue comes to mind. But you might want to check this out to understand more on the topic... http://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejud...

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Thanks Rebecca! Appreciate you taking the time to read my piece.

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Come on, Big Daddy Oreo. Is that the best you got? Give me some articulate thoughts.

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 3 years ago

      I would love to have black skin. But the last thing in the world I would want to be is a WHITE police officer.

      If I was in charge I would give every white police officer the option of going undercover as black cops that way they do not have to deal with all those racial politics. Then the black faced cops could say to al sharpton you can't pull the race card on me cause I'm black nah nah nah nah nah!

    • Rebecca Motley profile image

      Rebecca Kathleene Motley, MD 3 years ago from MI

      I appreciate your thoughtful articles Mr. Hampton! Tim Wise is one of my favs to listen too although I can't always say I agree with him, Sapient Pen. Wise also talked about the issue of how black men have to be taught to react around police in this clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eXEcVn9s6k

    • Rickey Hampton Sr profile image
      Author

      Rickey Hampton 3 years ago from Detroit, Mi.

      Sapient Pen, Thanks for taking the time to read my work. I also appreciate your thoughtful response. Rickey

    • Sapient Pen profile image

      Sapient Pen 3 years ago

      Excellent article.Good to hear a voice of reason.When the author says "White people are in charge" he's admitting that unequal power relations are in existence decades after the Civil Rights Movement.Tim Wise the anti-racist essayist even goes so far as to call it apartheid. http://www.timwise.org/2014/08/resurrecting-aparth...

      As someone once said.."Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.." If the African American community is rising up in indignant protest it's because they realize this fact.They should-otherwise the gains of the Civil Rights Movement will be frittered away.