Recently in Brooklyn, New York, a white woman called the cops on a young, 9-year old Black child who she emphatically claimed had sexually groped her. The outrage was angry and swift with people acting like this was some new phenomenon. So let me be blunt: This is an age-old white people's technique, tried, tested and true. Insecure white people "exercising their rights" and running half-cocked with historically erroneous perceptions of Black people ALWAYS turn to the "protection" of law enforcement for real or perceived "threats" coming from Black people.
Then there is the pervasive myth and delusion of the "big, scary Black man," now extended to include little Black children. Again, let me be blunt because I'm angry that in 2018, after everything, there is this overreach of white privilege that has the potential to be destructive and/or cause tragic consequences by these cruel and unsavory people. And, no, anger, righteous anger, IS a good thing -- it galvanizes people to objective and forces constructive action to correct, right, and adjust a "wrong."
So why do white people persist in calling the police on innocent Black people? White people call the police for Black people for non-existent or sometimes minor offenses because:
1. They know that it works -- every time, all the time
2. They want to intimidate Black people
3. In rare cases, some may actually want the police to harm Black people and they believe that by calling them and exaggerating a sometimes-minor incident, this will happen
4. They want Black people to just "go away" (from the neighborhood/public space etc.)
That's also true when a white police officer shoots an unarmed Black man, the justifications are usually quite similar: The guy was so large, seemed so strong, appeared so threatening. He had a gun (or knife) and looked and acted "menacing" so the officer feared for his/her life. When it is later revealed that the victim was a young boy or a man who was slight of stature, such statements seem transparently and demonstrably false. But newly published research suggests that, tragically, they may be an accurate account of the police officer's perceptions.
"[White] Americans demonstrated a systematic bias in their perceptions of the physical formidability imposed by Black men," concludes a research team led by psychologist John Paul Wilson of Montclair State University. Their findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
But wait. There's more. This research is the latest in a long series of studies that indicate biased perceptions of Blacks. For example, a 2009 study found Black men faces are more likely to be seen as threatening, while a 2014 study also found Black boys are seen as older and less innocent than whites of the same age. And in a University of Iowa study recently published, participants were more likely to misidentify a toy as a weapon after seeing a Black face than a white face -- even when the faces were of young children.
So this white woman calling out a 9-year old child -- unable to vote, drive a car, have children, buy alcohol or be legally put in prison -- was a cold and calculated act deliberately designed to punish a Black child. It was an act steeped in racism, white privilege, and the stereotyping of Black people -- ALL Black people -- as criminals, thugs, rapists and brutal "beasts" who all want to soil and damage "pure, white genteel white women." To her and a significant white mindset ", the worse white man (woman) is better than the best Black man."
Now let me reinforce this damning pervasive, dehumanizing and degrading of Black people in general, and Black men in particular. Let's draw on recent history.
Consider the following: One man fired 76 shots from three different guns into a packed movie theater. The end result? He murdered 12 and injured 70. Another man was jaywalking. One man stood trial before a court of his peers, and after 4 months was sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences. And the other man? His name's Michael Brown and he was was shot six times by a white cop. He died and his body was left in the street for four hours. Like a dead rat or other animal, just road kill. Not worthy of respect.
Today, we already know which man is alive and which one is dead -- the Black one is dead and the white one in prison. James Holmes, a 30 old white man, was arrested without incident after he slaughtered 12 innocent people. He was allowed to plead insanity and newspaper after newspaper after and magazine article after article dedicated reams of pages to what could have possibly gone wrong with him to cause his to commit mass murder.
On the other hand, Michael Brown was crucified and vilified in the media. The newspapers and national television screamed at gullible viewers to justify the senseless and unjust killing of an unarmed young Black man first saying that he "smoked marijuana." He stole cigarillos. He cursed at the white officer. The same newspapers and magazines that looked for all the possible humanly things that could have pushed "poor nice Jamey Holmes" to go wrong and send him over the edge, dedicated an equal amount of pages to the "dark, criminal past" of Michael Brown. This has not changed and, if anything, has been reinforced from the very top of American society on down today.
Today, the perception that Black people have "animal tendencies" is very real. But don't take my word for it. Just a few years ago an article appeared in Slate and was circulated throughout Black social media. The article, "I Don't Feel Your Pain," written by Harvard anthropologist student, Jason Silverstein, said what Black folks have always known:
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