What can you count on with the regularity of the sun rising or a new Chief Keef arrest? According to Mychal Denzel Smith at the Nation, the answer is racism. So when he heard about a teen, Tremaine McMillian, violently detained by Florida police for giving them a “dehumanizing stare” while feeding a puppy, he was pretty sure the teen was African American.
Also predictable is the trying to pretend this isn’t racism. Attempting to justify the use of force in this situation, Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said: “Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us. And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fist, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat.” You see, this had nothing to do with racism, it’s just the police doing their job.
But it’s a matter of who constitutes a threat. Who but a black teenager has the ability to dehumanize a police officer with a stare? Who but a(n unarmed) black teenager can make (armed) police feel threatened by clenching his fists? Who but a black teenager can simultaneously clench his fists and feed a puppy? Who but a black teenager isn’t afforded the opportunity to comply with a request before it’s determined that they’re not complying? Who but a black teenager is choked to the point they urinate themselves while being handcuffed? When does any of this happen to people aren’t black teenagers?
Read Mychal Denzel Smith’s entire piece at the Nation.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.