One of the most familiar and overused refrains raised from the black chorus in their criticism of police and their brutal tactics is the oft-repeated idea that white criminals are treated less harshly than black people accused of lesser and more innocuous crimes.
Perhaps the most popular extracurricular activity of those engaged in the fight for black lives is how often they notice when white men commit heinous crimes and are gently taken into custody by law-enforcement officers wearing wide-toothed smiles and kid gloves. The response is always prefixed with the same phrase:
“If he were black, they would’ve … ”
On Wednesday, authorities say, Scott Michael Greene, a Donald Trump-supporting, Confederate-flag-waving Iowa man, opened fire on police officers, killing two. After eluding police for hours, Scott Michael Greene (Caucasian assassins always have three first names—James Earl Ray, Lee Harvey Oswald, Darren Dean Wilson) was finally captured two counties away.
He was taken into custody without incident (wonder if they bought him lunch, too?).
Maybe they’re right. Maybe cops treat white criminals differently from innocent black men. But as civilians, we probably aren’t aware of the extenuating circumstances. Perhaps there are valid reasons why even the most menacing, dangerous Caucasian criminals are always brought in unscathed and without incident. In the interest of objectivity, here are a few reasons you may not have considered:
I know that seems ridiculous, but it is the only valid explanation why cops routinely kill black men after they are subdued. Alton Sterling was handcuffed and lying on the ground but was apparently so dangerous that an officer still needed to put a bullet in his head. Terence Crutcher was seen on video with his hands in the air, but the officer who killed him said she saw him reaching into his car window even though it was rolled up. Kenneth Walker was on his knees and shackled when a Columbus, Ga., sheriff’s deputy shot him in the head with a submachine gun.
Black men must be careful not to reach for their weapons. Or wallets. Or dreams.
You know how quick their hands are, so even when you’re watching them, they still pose an imminent threat. It’s probably because black men have the innate strength and ability to break chains and elude gunfire. See Luke Cage.
I know you’re probably thinking, “If they could do that, then they wouldn’t have ever been subjected to slavery.” See, you’re using logic and truth, neither of which has a place in this discussion.
You must understand that white people aren’t as dangerous as their darker counterparts. When cops gunned down John Crawford for purchasing an unloaded BB gun in Wal-Mart, he was posing a far more imminent threat than when two drunken white men actually loaded and fired a gun at customers in Wally World but were, again, taken into custody “without incident.” Philando Castile told a cop he was armed, but he still died reaching for his papers. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was menacing and evil when cops shot him two seconds after they arrived because he was playing with a toy gun in a park.
But police took cover and talked to Jed Frazier as he pointed a loaded pistol at them. All of the 25-year-old's injuries were related to the fact that he crashed his car into a tree while drunkenly driving before threatening the officers’ lives. You know those sweet, innocuous white guys—always pulling pranks. Kids will be kids, even if they’re 25 years old (and white).
I’m sure you’ve experienced angry black women before, and how threatening they can be. If Sandra Bland hadn’t committed the unspeakably heinous act of puffing on a cigarette, maybe she would still be alive today. Rekia Boyd had the audacity to simply walk away after having committed no crime. Don’t even get me started on Korryn Gaines, who foolishly locked the door of her own apartment because her son was inside. Black women always escalate the situation, so they will sometimes end up dead.
If only they could be more like Julia Shields, who went on a shooting rampage that ended with her pointing a rifle at cops. She was—you guessed it—taken without incident. It’s not because she's white, though. It’s probably because she had the foresight not to light a cigarette before she led the cops on a high-speed chase. Because we all know that smoking kills; pointing a rifle at cops doesn’t.
It’s usually not about life or death. Usually it comes down to a simple choice that all officers have to make:
Do I feel like chasing this guy?
Have you ever tried to run down a black man? Man, those dudes are fast. Either you are going to risk getting your uniform all sweaty and maybe even risk burning some calories, or you can just shoot them in the back. I know it’s not in the handbook, but trust me, most cops choose the latter. Like when cops shot 15-year-old Keston Charles in Brooklyn, N.Y., during a foot chase. Or when Walter Scott was gunned down and shot in the back by Officer Michael Slager for trying to run away. White boys run, too, but they aren’t as fast, so they can be taken into custody like Timothy McVeigh or the above-mentioned Scott Michael Greene.
Mike Brown needed to be shot eight times for the penalty of stealing swisher sweets because he was a 6-foot-4 “hulk” towering over Darren Wilson’s 6-foot-3 frame. Keith Lamont Scott was a troublemaker, even though he had a history of mental illness. Alfred Olango was mentally disabled and killed by police because they “feared for their safety.” When Kajieme Powell stole doughnuts and an energy drink from a convenience store, he waited for cops and begged them to shoot him. He was black. So they did.
But Colorado theater shooter James Holmes was taken without force because he was obviously troubled—he had dyed his hair and everything—classic symptoms of white angst. When Jared Leigh Loughner opened fire at a Gabrielle Gifford’s rally, killing six, he was deemed mentally unstable. After Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders, he took his own life. Maybe he knew that every white serial killer, from Ted Kaczynski to Charles Manson, always escapes with his life, unless he takes it himself.
See how it works? There are valid reasons why the white guy always makes it into police custody unbruised. It’s not racism; it is about a wide variety of extenuating circumstances that dictate that white lives are handled differently from the ones with melanin in their skin. Although you may disagree, this is all proof of one undeniable fact:
White lives matter.
Black lives? Not so much.