It is always a tragedy when a child dies. Unfortunately, in America, it is more of a tragedy when a white child dies. When Caucasian children are killed they are mourned IMMEDIATELY. There are bumper stickers, rallies, signs on the side of the road demanding “Justice for….” and communities become outraged. They receive support. Everyone agrees that the child’s death was a horrible wrong. No one blames the white child. In fact, just this year in my community, there was a vigil for a child who was murdered five years ago. A white, female child.
It isn’t the same for black children. Before they can be even minimally mourned by the community, Caucasians must first determine whether or not the black child was a threat or a “thug.” Based on the child’s clothes or facebook pictures, Caucasians believe they have the right to use social media to decide if the child deserved to die. If he was black, he probably deserved it. In this picture of Tamir Rice holding up a peace sign, some claimed he was “flashing gang signs.”
He must have been in that same gang as John Lennon, Will Smith, and former President Bush.
When police murder an African-American, even one who is unarmed, Caucasians immediately believe it was the victim’s fault. “Live like a thug. Die like a thug!” Without knowing the victim or his/her family, they immediately judge that the black person must have been at fault – even if it is a child. Many don’t even bother to read the article for details. They just assume that the police were right.
Why do we hold the police LESS accountable for their crimes? They are professionals and should be held to a higher standard – not a lower one. I fully realize there are many wonderful, hardworking, fair police officers out there, but do we really believe there are NO bad cops? Do we believe that about any other profession? Aren’t there bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad fast food workers? Are we really naive enough to think that the law enforcement profession is the only profession free of bad apples?
Look at the case of Tamir Rice, the 12 yr old boy executed by a police officer in Cleveland in November. Video of the incident proves that the police officers drove right up to the boy, and the cop shot him WITHOUT WARNING as he jumped out of the car. Less than two seconds. No hands up. No warning. No chance to surrender.
His “crime”? Holding a bb gun that was mistaken for a real gun. The cops thought a 12 yr old was in his 20s.
The catch? Ohio is an open-carry state, so a 20 something adult holding a gun wouldn’t be a crime.
Does he look 20 to you? I know.. your first thought was “That’s probably an old picture.” See? That is EXACTLY what I am talking about. You immediately thought we pulled up an old picture to make him look sweet and innocent. You’re wrong. It IS a recent picture, and he WAS sweet and innocent.
Instead of asking for the police to be accountable, Caucasians rally around the cop. I can’t help but wonder: would Caucasians be more sympathetic if someone besides a police officer had killed this boy? After the comments I have read online, I’m starting to believe there are no circumstances in which an African-American can be murdered that would elicit sympathy and support from the majority of Caucasians.
* What if it had been a white teen that came up and shot this boy? ~~ “Blacks kill whites all the time and no one cares!”
* A Mexican man? ~~ “That’s what happens when you let immigrants into this country. It’s Obama’s fault.”
* What if it had been a black man? ~~ “Blacks are always killing other blacks. I mean, it’s sad, but his dad was probably a drug dealer or something. That’s why they need to focus on black-on-black crime!”
* What if it had been an old white man? ~~ “That kid was probably trying to rob him and that’s why he shot him.”
These are the types of comments I have read online in response to stories I have read where unarmed black youth are shot. These are things that WHITE people are saying today. Not 1950. TODAY.
I wanted to talk about this with friends, family, and other Caucasians, but they don’t see an issue.
I wanted to talk about how heavy my heart is over this. A police officer literally gunned down a 12 yr old boy with no warning. I was shocked when almost all of my friends failed to show concern. None of my family really seemed to care. These are intelligent, loving, moral people. People I love and thought I looked up to. How can they not see how this is wrong? People said things like “He shouldn’t have had a gun!” Seriously? He was 12. TWELVE. Not twenty-five. And it was a BB gun. Nearly every boy I know has a BB gun! I’ve seen the scrawny white country boys in this neighborhood walking down the street to their friends house carrying their bb guns. Half the kids here have a REAL gun (for “hunting” of course). But… my friends and family aren’t racist. I don’t believe I know a single person who believes they are racist. They’ll even tell you. “I’m not racist!”
They believe they aren’t racist because we’ve all watched those movies like Roots, Amistad, Rosewood, and 12 Years A Slave. We cringed. We cried. We could not believe the atrocities, but we have come a long way since then.
We watched The Help and 42 and shook our heads. We affirmed that if we had been alive then, we would NEVER have acted that way. No way. Not us because we have come a long way since then. Yet faced with story after story of police brutality against African-Americans today, so many of my friends choose dismiss it. “We are equal now. They need to stop playing the race card! Segregation ended a long time ago! White people are victims too!”
When I bring up those who were killed or harassed without breaking any law, they wave it away.
When they hear of African-Americans marching on Washington, they roll their eyes.
When they hear of the protests that stop traffic, they sigh in disgust. “Why do they have to disrupt MY life. I’m not the one causing them problems!!”
And they say “We have come a long way since then. Things are so much better now. “
*~* THEY DON’T WANT TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION *~*
They don’t realize how similar they are to the white housewives in “The Help.” I imagine the housewives in the southern states did the same thing in the ’50s and ’60s. I can see them sitting around with their cocktails discussing the “colored” and saying “I don’t know WHY they want Civil Rights. Slavery ended years ago. We have come a long way since then. Why can’t they just be happy with what they have? My girl even has her OWN bathroom. Her OWN bathroom! You think that would be enough!” I can hear them talking about how there is no need for the marches and the civil rights movements because “Things are so much better now!” They didn’t realize they were on the wrong side of history then.
I have no doubt they thought they were right in dismissing the issues facing African-Americans because to them, segregation was so much better than slavery. I mean… they would have never agreed to slavery. Right? And even though black folks had to drink from a different water fountain, they HAD water fountains, right? They had “colored” restaurants and motels. They had their OWN things. What more could they possibly want? They had everything white people had – you know – on their own side of town.
What they failed to understand then and so what many white Americans are failing to understand now is that “We have come a long way since then” does not mean we are done. It is not the same as “Equal”. Once again, we are on the WRONG side of history.
Another tactic I see Caucasians doing online is the diversion tactic. Instead of discussing why it is wrong for officers to assault and kill unarmed individuals, white people love to post these sort of memes in the comments of news stories where African Americans are slain.:
Rather than focusing on the issue of police brutality or the death of this one specific person or child, they try a diversion technique by going off-topic to say “look what other black guys did!” When people do this, they minimize this child’s death. They say his death doesn’t matter because other children have died too.
Do we do this when White people are killed? If we hear that a white child was shot, do we immediately post these memes and say “Too bad that white kid got shot but look at what white people do!!”:
No, we don’t.
When Antonio Santiago (the infant in the stroller) was killed by two black teens, did anyone look into his mother’s criminal history? Did anyone call Sherry West a bad mom? Did anyone talk about how she didn’t raise her other child or how she began asking about insurance money within hours of the baby’s death? Did anyone insult her appearance? Her obviously fake blonde hair? Her clothes? Her weight? Whether or not she was on welfare?
Because Sherry was white and the killers were black “thugs”. No need to look any further. Another black “thug” murder. Later, there would be speculation that she was involved for the insurance money. Even her own daughter suspects her, but we don’t want to hear about that. That isn’t being plastered all over social media. Let’s go back to focusing on those black hoodlums.
No one questioned poor, innocent Sherry West, but the internet was full of blame and hatred towards Tamir Rice’s mother. People immediately begin looking to see if his parents had an arrest record. They report his mom has only a sixth grade education. In the comments of his story white people write that she looked “all pimped out on TV”. They insulted her braids “fake hair”. Her jewelry. Her clothes. Her weight. They made comments on “how good welfare must be for her to look so big and healthy!” Where was the sympathy for this mom? Why is she attacked but Sherry West is martyred?
This is a mother who just lost her baby – her youngest child and people were so full of vitriol towards her.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~ THIS NEEDS TO STOP. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~ WE NEED CHANGE. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
We need police to stop assuming.
We need equality. THIS is not equality:
We need accountability. Is it so wrong to want police officers held accountable when something does go wrong? Every other profession faces accountability for their mistakes: Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers. If a nurse makes a mistake and gives the wrong drug, their fellow nurse friends don’t determine if they were wrong. There is an investigation that comes from outside their hospital. The same for goes for doctors. They don’t investigate themselves the way police do. Why are the police allowed to investigate their own alleged crimes? Asking for accountability is not the same as thinking all police are wrong or bad.
We need to quit blaming the victim. Red, yellow, black, white – No child deserves to die. No person is more or less valuable because of their skin color. Mark 12:31 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” John Crawford. Aiyana Jones. DeAunta Farrow. Akai Gurley. These names should be etched on our hearts.
We need to stop. Just stop.
Stop spreading hate and judgment on social media.
Stop calling black youth THUGS.
Stop accusing African American protestors of being unemployed and on welfare. When you do this, YOU are promoting the very racism and racial stereotypes you claim you’re tired of hearing about.
Stop looking for reasons to make this person’s death acceptable.
Last but not least, we need COMPASSION. Compassion for the death of a child regardless of the color of his skin. Sympathy for the family who has lost their child. It doesn’t matter if the mom is a soccer mom and leader of the PTA or a single mother struggling on welfare. It doesn’t matter if dad is employed as a bank manager or struggling as a gas station cashier.
They are still parents who have lost their child, and that loss is not lessened by social status.
We need to realize that in this age of social media, the child’s brother and sister are going online and reading those ugly, hurtful, racist things people post. Somehow the anonymity of social media has made people LESS human instead of more humane.
No child deserves to die. When I look at the pictures of Tamir, I don’t see a black boy. I see a BOY that is very much like my boy. I wish my friends and family could see what I see. I hope you can.