I’m an African American woman.
I was raised in the 80s in Texas during a time when being black could get you cussed for no reason. I’ve been a called a nigger more times than I’d like to count throughout my life. As a little girl I was told that some of my friends couldn’t play with me because of my race. I’ve had old white men come into my workplace and refuse to be served by me because of the color of my skin. (That happened in the 2000s.) Oh yeah, I’m absolutely black.
I also try to see the world as a better place than my parents were raised in. My dad was raised in New Orleans in the mid 50s/early 60s. He’s told me stories of having childhood friends beaten to death because of “talkin’ back to a white man.” He recalls travelling with a band and being chased out of Mississippi. He remembers when they integrated schools. My mother, raised in Austin, Texas, is 5 years older than my father. She remembers segregation well. She recalls a white man hitting her in her stomach just days after giving birth (via C-section) to my sister because she “talked back” thus igniting a racial fight/riot that lasted the course of almost 2 days.
I still try to be optimistic on race relations. I’m the type of person who constantly makes jokes about the racial stereotypes and differences. I don’t judge people on their race, but rather how they act. For instance, when I say the Tea Partiers appear racist; it’s NOT because they all of a sudden showed up when we finally got our first Black President in office; but rather, many of the fringe Tea Partiers show themselves to be slightly racist. (This does not apply to all, because I actually know some who just don’t like Obama, and that’s fine.) But when you make a stupid comment like Rand Paul did, you kinda show your “true colors” sort of speak. Despite all of the animosity in the US, I still try to see us as moving forward, (despite many loud politicians trying to shove us back.)
(Please understand, the few posts I’ve posted on race relations in politics is race relations in POLITICS. I personally feel that the political arena in NO way encompasses real life.)
The events of the Oakland BART shooting and the recent verdict have sent my thoughts of race relations into a tail spin. As I watched the video of shooting taken from the nearby train; my heart broke each time I saw Officer Mehserle pull his sidearm and shoot Oscar Grant in the back; murder an unarmed man that didn’t seem sinister at all. In the video, he may or may not have been mouthing off to one of the officers, but never once did I see him get violent or try to fight the police. I watched in horror as Mehserle murdered an unarmed man.
I’m very hurt for Mr. Grant’s family and I wish I could tell them that they have my deepest sympathies and my prayers are with them. Beyond sympathy however, I’m angry. More than just angry about the incident and the completely idiotic verdict that was given; I’m angry that this constantly happens. How many times must a white police officer “accidentally” shoot and kill an African American before it stops being “involuntary manslaughter”?
In 1991 – 92 I, like many African Americans watched the beating of Rodney King with shock and awe. How could the very people who we provide weapons to protect us do something like that?! I’ve never wavered in my view that the force used on Mr. King was excessive and should’ve been punished. I was certain that all of the officers caught on tape beating an unarmed man that badly would be at least fired and perhaps jailed for a time. How could someone disagree with something that was on VIDEO??! But alas, in 1992, everyone was let off. It was unbelievable. I was angry then; even at the age of 13, at the fact that cops could get away with something like that. I’ve been around cops my whole life, and generally did not have a distrust of them. In fact, I looked forward to hanging out with the cops my mom worked with. They taught me little things about police procedure, let me play with handcuffs... (Not in a bad way, pervs) and just generally made me feel safe. The verdicts in the Rodney King case was probably the first incident that opened my eyes to police brutality and that not all cops are good.
As I grew older and more mature, I started seeing more and more how not all cops are good cops. In fact, it seemed in certain areas, the last person you wanted to see if something happened, particularly if you were black, was a cop. There were times when I was in an area that wasn’t my stomping grounds, and had been harassed by the cops, but never to the point of being beaten. As years roll on, we’ve gone from (what seems to be today) a mere unnecessary beating by the cops; to having people killed by the very people who are sworn to protect and serve.
When will our court system stop protecting cops who make, not just bad decisions, but tragic decisions? I understand that there’s a catch 22 with the system. We need police. We need the laws of the land to be regulated and upheld. We need protection from the genuinely bad people in the world. For the police officers out there who take their job of protection and serving seriously, I commend you and appreciate you.
The courts seem to forget the cops are people first. A murderer without a badge is a murderer when he pulls the trigger; same as a murderer with a badge. I’ve personally held both a taser gun and a sidearm. (Not the exact sidearm but probably close.) There’s NO WAY to mix up the two. First of all, I saw nothing in the video leading up to the shooting to show that there was even a need for a tasering. Secondly, who fires ANYTHING without looking first? Why didn’t his cop buddies who were also there wonder, “Dude, why are you reaching for your sidearm?” I mean, seriously?! All attention seemed to be on Mr. Grant, did no one NOTICE? Why was there a need to draw ANYTHING? The other question I have is, why is it when at least three eye witnesses say that no one actively resisted the officers at the time is that not taken into consideration?
Let’s for the sake of argument say that Mehserle, did in fact miraculously pull his sidearm instead of a taser and this was one GIGANTIC screw up on his part. This “screw up” cost a man his life. His daughter will grow up without a father. If this “screw up” were made by a regular civilian would they just receive a verdict of “involuntary manslaughter”? I’ll push it one further, if Mehserle were black and Grant were white, could Mehserle use the “Ooops Defense” or would the D.A. paint him to be some sadistic aggressor that lost his temper and acted in a fit of rage? Why was the case allowed to be moved from Oakland all the way down to Los Angeles where (let’s face it), one is hard pressed to get justice against police brutality? Does no one else find it ironic that not a one juror was an African American?
Whatever happened to "And justice for all?" Does Oscar Grant not deserve justice?
I’m so incredibly sick about this incident. I’m sick that it seems there will never be any accountability taken for fatal mistakes made by police officers. I get that officers shouldn’t doubt themselves, but at the same time, if you KILL someone or use excessive force on someone where there is VIDEO EVIDENCE that it seems unjustified; perhaps that is the time that the Brotherhood should stop protecting their own.
Shit like this makes me afraid for my children.
Shit like this makes me afraid for my wife.
Shit like this makes me afraid for myself.