In doing research for my book about racism, I’ve recently been reading some scholarly texts regarding law enforcement in inner cities. I’ve read numerous books, written by a combination of black prosecutors, black public defenders, white prosecutors and pubic defenders, and one which interviewed retired judges. They all have a common theme, which I’ll get back to in a minute.
The takeaway from all this research has been the confirmation of something which I, and many of you have likely believed for a some time but haven’t had the need nor the impetus to acknowledge. It appears to have become commonplace for white people who are in charge to either ignore or simply delay their reaction to the needs of black people. I’m speaking from a law enforcement perspective here. I’ve read many accounts about cops or other taxpayer-paid first responders either neglecting or simply refusing to go into black neighborhoods when they’re needed, as a way of tacitly determining the futures of these individuals.
One account was a poor family of 8 or so who lived in a small house with a newborn baby sleeping in one bed with his father. One morning they noticed the baby was not breathing and called 9-1-1. No one showed up after 20 minutes. Over the course of the next hour, they called three more times and no one showed up. When they finally called the fourth time, they overheard the 9-1-1 operator ask her supervisor why no one was responding. The supervisor was overheard telling the operator “There’s a shitload of people in that house. Somebody probably just rolled over on the baby and killed it. Tell them to call a funeral home”.
Here is a recent article explaining that Repubs don’t consider racism to be a very big problem I know that it’s from HuffPo, which is not considered to be a paragon of impartial reporting, but it’s a legitimate poll, based on the details of the study.
Other examples are of white judges imposing enormous bail on black kids who have been accused of possessing small amounts of pot. Since they can’t pay the bail, they languish in jail for what is sometimes months waiting for their trial to begin. Once their trial date comes up, many times the prosecutor isn’t ready or the public defender hasn’t had a chance to see the case, and it’s delayed. So the kid goes back to jail. By the time the case finally comes up, even if the kid is acquitted or takes a plea, he likely owes fines or court costs, which he can’t pay because he hasn’t worked in months. He is unlikely to be able to find a job since he’s been out of the job market for a while and has no way to support himself as a result. If the fines and court costs aren’t paid, a bench warrant is issued for him, which lands him back in jail, where he accumulates more fees. This is not an isolated incident. There are thousands upon thousand of black kids who are in jail because they could not pay fines and court costs associated with minor offenses.
The fact is that the same percentage of white kids smoke pot as black kids do. Since there are about 7 1/2 times as many white kids as black kids in the US, why would there be so many more black kids in jail over pot arrests than white kids? Could it be that black kids, what with stop and frisk laws that target them, are simply arrested more often for minor pot offenses than white kids? Could it be that predominantly white judges don’t rule as harshly or impose as large bail amounts on white kids? There has to be a reason that a smaller population of pot users accounts for a larger population of pot users who are in jail.
Dare I use the…”R” word? How many more instances do we need of, not “isolated examples” but of thousands upon thousands of occasions when whites assert their authority by ensuring that blacks stay in the subservient position in which we’ve always preferred them, then blame them for being there.
Folks, look inside yourselves here. If you were a cop or a judge, and you were presented with a good-looking fair-haired white college boy who was caught with a small amount of pot, and contrast that with seeing a black kid of the same age wearing a hoodie committing the same offense, would you treat them the same? Would you assume that the white kid was just making harmless juvenile mistakes, but the black kid has probably committed other crimes and deserves punishment?
If you were a cop and received a call about a fight in a predominantly black section of your city, and your sergeant told you not to bother because “those people are always fighting”, would you protest? Would you agree?
I’ve been hearing white people lamenting recently that they’re tired of hearing about racism. Well, to those of you who are, imagine how tiring it must be to the victims of it. Your boredom is more evidence of your acceptance of it than of any overuse of the word. It exists. And it exists in us all.