Betty Shelby Is Teaching a Class on Surviving Killing an Unarmed Black Man. Here Are 10 Things She'd Be Better At

Illustration for article titled Betty Shelby Is Teaching a Class on Surviving Killing an Unarmed Black Man. Here Are 10 Things She'd Be Better At
Screenshot: Washington Post (YouTube)

This week, Betty Shelby, the Tulsa Police Officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher—and claimed he “caused his own death” by “failing to comply” to her orders—will teach a course to other police officers about “Surviving the Aftermath of a Critical Incident.”


Shelby is convinced that other officers will be forced to deal with what she had to deal with, a phenomenon called “The Ferguson Effect.” It’s when “a police officer is victimized by anti-police groups and tried in the court of public opinion.” In essence, she is going to teach a class to police officers on how to handle what comes after you kill an unarmed black person.


Because this class represents one of many insults that follows the injury of years of racialized violence in Oklahoma, people in Tulsa are rightly enraged and actively protesting this class. I’m going to take a slightly different approach. After covering her since she killed Crutcher, I’d like to suggest 10 things that are better ideas for her future career than teaching this class.

1. A grits-seasoning consultant

I am almost certain that she would advise someone to put sugar in it, thereby ruining the porridge, but people are doing that anyway.

2. Chief potato salad chef for all cookouts in the summer of 2019

Bring on the walnuts and grapes.

 3. Editor-in-chief of Very Smart Brothas

Though she is neither smart nor a brotha, her ability to manipulate the media, as she did when she went on 60 Minutes and said that she was as much a victim as Terrence Crutcher, shows that she would turn the site into a black Breitbart.


4. A talk-show host on Fox News

Her show could be called Injustice With Betty and it could air just after Justice With Judge Jeanine.


5. Senior lineup consultant at barbershops that end with the letter z

Because if you’re new in town and looking for a spot that specializes in cutting black hair, just look for those that end with the letter “z.”


 6. Communications director and chief speechwriter for the Honorable Louis Farrakhan

Why not? She is white, she can try anything and fail.

 7. Ghostwriter for Travis Scott

She couldn’t produce tracks for him because he knows how to pick a beat, but I doubt she would harm his lyricism.


8. NFL’s #NotAllWhitePeople ambassador

She’s somehow convinced herself that she is not one of the bad apples.

 9. Darth Becky tear sommelier

She knows what she is talking about when discussing the subject of white tears; Shelby is a true connoisseur.


10. The replacement for Angela Valdez on a film adaptation of Power to be directed by Tyler Perry

A terrible show given to a terrible director featuring Shelby is a good look. She would fit well within the absurdity of the St. Patrick world.


but, after reflection, maybe Betty Shelby is doing exactly what she should. We know the police will keep killing us with impunity, so why should we expect her to do anything different?

In the same way that photographers sold pictures of black folks who were lynched, she found a way to profit off of black death. What Shelby is doing isn’t unique. It is deeply American.

Lawrence is a philosopher of race at his day job and a curator of dopeness when time allows. Words in The New York Times, Slate Magazine, and others. Email him at



“Teaching a Class on Surviving Killing an Unarmed Black Man”

Thank you. I wish every media outlet worded their articles on her “class” like you did.

Also, whose white ass idea was this!?