Most of the time, life reveals the truth with a gradual slowness that allows us to grasp difficult concepts. But on a rare occasion, the universe will take mud and make itself a brick with the sole purpose of hurling it at your head.
The following is an approximate excerpt from a conversation I had last night about the not-so-new trend of white people calling the cops on black people:
Him: You shouldn’t say it like that. You don’t want to make people hesitant to call the police. You don’t hesitate when you call the police, right?
Me: I’ve never called the police.
Me: Never. I didn’t realize that until just now. Now that I think about it, I don’t ever remember being around when anyone called the police.
Him: So who would you call if you needed help?
Me: My cousins. Duuuuh
Him: I don’t mean moving a couch, nigga. I mean like if someone was breaking into your house or your car shut off on a dark road.
Me: Same answer.
That’s when it hit me:
Police are white people’s cousins.
I have always found that it is easier to understand complex concepts if you distill them down to an apt analogy. For instance, I finally accepted Taylor Swift’s remake of “September” by analogizing it to being born with an inverted anus on the side of your head. Her music sounds like the whole world is shitting in your ear.
Your cousins always have your back. While I have never personally reached out to a family member when I noticed a suspicious-looking dude napping in my college dormitory or lingering at my job behind the counter at Starbucks, I can guarantee you that someone reading this has seen someone looking at them strangely and called a cousin to ask: “Do you know this nigga?”
Just think about it. If you happened upon a cookout, who is the first person you’d call? Your cousins! Perhaps BBQ Becky simply wanted to invite her cousins to the impromptu family reunion. Maybe 911 is white people’s speed-dial for cousin Chad and we were all overreacting.
Every black family has one person whom they consider to be the “smart cousin.” It is such a universal truth that political pundit and truth-teller Angela Rye changed her Twitter handle to “Cousin Angela” (and recently, NOT yo Cousin Angela) after I gave her that nickname and black people immediately understood the reference. Among the Harriots, I serve as the family’s personal Google search bar. They call me whenever they want to know anything.
Even though I am not a lawyer, my cousin Metia calls me when she has legal questions, just like the mayonnaise dollop nicknamed #PermitPatty did when she dialed 911 to ask if an 8-year-old needed a license to sell water outside her apartment complex.
And most families believe you shouldn’t publicly air the family’s dirty laundry. Maybe that’s why white people push back so hard against the facts that prove cops shoot and kill black people disproportionately. They know it’s true, but they can’t snitch on their cousins.
I certainly understand that line of thinking. We all have a cousin who everyone knows is fucked up, but we love them anyway. Most of us have a family member who has a criminal past, suffers from substance abuse or just is a generally fucked up person. You can laugh about it among your aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. But if someone disparages your cousin, you warn them to keep fam’s name out of their mouth.
White people are the same way with the police. To white people, all cops are heroes who would never shoot someone unless they truly feared for their lives just like all your cousins are fine, upstanding citizens who never once combined their $3 with your $6 to buy 3 mice from the pet store and put them in your neighbor’s mailbox to pay her back for telling your mom and aunt she saw you two sneaking out of the window to perform in your junior high school’s talent show...
If you’ve ever been around a black family, you realize that we feel most comfortable around our cousins in the same way that white people are set at ease by the presence of the police. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been around white people and wish I had an official cousin escort.
It all makes sense now.
So whenever you wonder why that person who looks like a bottle of Elmer’s glue wearing wraparound sunglasses seems so eager to have the police around, remember that boys in blue are not law enforcement officers to white people. To us, they’re dangerous strangers, but Caucasians call the cops in their time of need because, when the police show up, for white people...
It’s a family reunion.