When a Punch in the Face Is a Punch in the Gut
The Seattle video brings back memories of black powerlessness in dealing with the police.
Once, as an adult, I sat at a traffic light and watched as an officer frisked a young black male. The second officer and I locked eyes and with disgust on my face, I shook my head. Just then, the officer walked over to my car and asked for my license. "What did I do?" I asked. "Oh, it looked like you didn't have your seat belt on." The officer had no reason to approach me, but he wanted me to know that he could find one if he needed to, you know, if I kept staring.
If an officer's purpose is to serve and protect, why don't I feel served or safe? I tense up when I see cop cars in my rearview mirror. Just last night, an officer stared me down at a traffic light. I guess a (slightly) brown female in an ultimate driving machine with an out-of-state license plate does not make for a happy New York City cop. At this point, I'm not sure if I should be more frightened by a white police officer in the hood or a crackhead?
And I'm a black woman. The black man's cry is far greater than mine. But ultimately it's not about who gets it worse. Black people have been beaten at the hands of white authority figures since arriving to this country. The best way to fight back is not with the fist, as the officer did to the young girl, but with the law. Black folks need to learn their rights. Web sites like Flex Your Rights and Know My Rights are great places to start.
It's a shame that cops have so much authority, and often exercise such poor judgment. "Do not struggle," the officer told the teen right before cuffing her, not realizing that the struggle is what keeps us alive.
Lakeia Brown is a freelance writer in Atlanta.