Black People Aren’t Surprised and Neither Should You Be.
I am honestly not sure what would surprise a black person when it comes to incidents with the police, being thrown off different types of transportation, schools of black and brown students not getting adequate heat/air, general acts of racism/prejudice/bias, or anything else we consistently see on a regular basis. Black people are not surprised. Why do you ask? It is because this has been occurring for hundreds of years. We have been seeing it and talking about it. We know it occurs. We truly think you know it occurs which is why we are surprised YOU are surprised. Did you think rappers were just talking about hypothetical dealing with the police? Did you think driving while black was just a joke? Were you not listening to what we said? Did you think the Rodney King beating was a one-time exception to the rule?
Before smartphones, there was eyewitness proof, conversations and occasional videos. But NOW! Now, we have constant video which goes against the idea that black people are just lying or using the "race" card. The idea if black people just listened, didn't fight back, showed their hands, kept their voice low, didn't sit on their mom's porch, or anything else then these incidents would not occur aka the cops wouldn't have to act as they did. These videos are painful because they go completely against the idea that police are here to help and keep the country safe. Instead, it shows police are flawed with biases, stereotypes, racism, and will use their power in very incorrect and corrupt ways.
Previously, incidents would occur and it was literally our word against the idea of, “no, they would never do that, they would never allow it to happen, the police are here to help, you are reading too much into it, or why are you making this about race.” Black people have always had the book thrown at them for anything considered to be an impropriety or potentially look illegal. This is why the data shows black kids are suspended at rates more than 4x that of a white kid. In Alabama, black kids are suspended at rates of 4.8x a white kid. The intent a white kid has is they are just being a kid, they were having fun, they didn't mean it, or whatever is needed to excuse away the incident. A black kid is always assumed to have criminal or deadly intent, no matter what occurred.
We saw it with Tamir Rice when he was playing with a fake gun as millions of white kids do on a consistent basis, but he was immediately shot without the police car even stopping. We saw it with the incident in which Jordan Edwards was killed when the police officer shot at the car driving away from the officer. The intent was thought to be deadly by the kids having a party. We do not get an opportunity to explain the situation, and even if we do our explanation is not good enough, or isn’t honest enough.
On December 27th two D League basketball players were on an American Airlines flight when they were given first class blankets by someone in first class. They took the blanket back to coach where they were sitting and was immediately asked by the flight attendant if they had stolen them. Stolen… while still on the plane…. I am not sure about you but many people, myself included have taken airline blankets. What proceeded is still mind-boggling, but not surprising. The flight attendant had the basketball players kicked off the plane. Yes, you hear that right. He had them kicked off the plane for “stealing” first class blankets, while they were still sitting on the plane. We know airlines rarely wash the blankets, they have them re-bagged the for the next person. I also didn't realize it was illegal to take a blanket from first class and use it in coach. Illegal enough to warrant being thrown off a plane. I have seen videos of passengers doing and saying horrible things and they get to stay on the flight.
Was their explanation good enough? Was the voice of the person who gave them the blankets good enough? Obviously not, because no matter what was said, the flight attendant threw them off the plane for “stealing” a first class blanket. Guilt was already convinced and innocence was not considered.
Is this surprising? No. It is never surprising because we black people always worry about this type of incident happening. I know the next comment will be, but it was a black flight attendant who did this. Not a white one. Well, I hate to tell you, but it doesn’t matter. Black people can have biases, prejudices, and stereotypes just like everyone else and I think this gives a perfect example of it happening. The question to ask is, would the same thing have occurred if the person was white, and I will assume probably not. There is an inherent automatic assumption of the criminality of black people. Many of my friends and myself have had situations like this happen to us. We have been in situations where we tried to be polite and when that politeness was been ignored we got loud and angry. It is hard to understand the feelings of injusticeness when you have always been given the benefit of the doubt. The "well I have done the same thing and the officer let me off or smiled and joked with me" gives the assumption it is you not the police.
That assumption is always we weren’t quiet or polite at first. Please understand that calm and polite does not work when there is already an assumption of guilt. Take the case and evidence of the body camera of an officer which shows the video of the black man sitting on his mom’s front porch waiting for her to get home. The cops had been called for some reason and his calm and polite reasoning did nothing. Not only did it not help, the police did not believe anything he said, and it ended up with him being thrown to the ground and arrested. Once guilt is assumed calm and polite does nothing. The question you should ask yourself is how do black people NOT get angry when injustice is occurring. If you are surprised at these occurrences, then I do not think you are really having conversations with black people. Have you asked your black friends if they have experienced this? Have you asked them how they dealt with it? How it felt?
There is too much video evidence as proof of what has and is occurring on a consistent basis. Look at the statistics above on students being suspended by race. Most people treat these incidents as isolated incidents. This was just an example of "one bad cop." That is just the state of Alabama for you, they are racist. All cops are not like this. This was just a bad apple. They are not all like this.
I hate to break it to you, but they are not isolated, they are all interrelated, and we don’t mean as distant cousins. We mean as brothers and sisters. Race is the mom and the dad, and as soon as you pay attention to the relationship and how race is always present in some aspect the surprise should go away and angry should replace it. Anger at the knowledge there is a consistent threat of injustice black people have to deal that a white person will never know.
We cannot move forward and close a division that is continually being ignored because the reasons for the divisions are not what is expected or wanted to hear. The justifications, explanations, and reasoning need to be left behind. In place needs to be the thought process of race being the foundation of incidents and how to change that foundation. Black people have been talking about these incidents for centuries. It is time for you to start believing them and getting angry. Get angry and start finding ways to help change occur.
A few ways to help make change happen:
1. Do not explain or reason away a black person’s experience, instead listen and validate it. You wouldn’t explain away a disabled person’s experience so please do not do it to us.
2. Speak up if you see an injustice occurring. If you know that the blanket was given to someone from first class, then speak up. Do not allow someone to get thrown off the plane, and then tell your friend the flight attendant was wrong. SAY SOMETHING, DO SOMETHING.
3. Lastly, do not be afraid. Change can’t happen without everyone being involved. It isn’t up to black people only.
Thank you for reading now go talk about race!! There is more of this so please check out my other blogs. If you have enjoyed it sign up for my newsletter. Follow me on all social media-jenfrytalks. Any questions, comments, or concerns? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.