In Speech class we were tasked with writing a persuasive speech. At my PWI (Predominantly White Institution), I decided to be soft. I wrote my speech about football concussions because this wasn’t a good forum for me to spout my sometimes controversial persuasive opinions. HOWEVER, a girl decided to do her 7 minute speech on police brutality (she’s white, obviously).
It was about how police brutality affects…COPS, aka her daddy. How it affects morale and how people are starting to not trust the police because of the media attention on “this new issue of police brutality”. Now, that was expected. I had some questions obviously because I expect white people to not understand the view points of minorities and marginalized groups. Why would they? These issues don’t affect them. My issue was with one statement she made in regards to being part of a cop’s family:
“Most people don’t know what it’s like to fear for their family member’s life every time they step outside.”
When white people say “people” they mean white people.
Most people don’t know. Every time I leave the house my parents both say be careful infinite times because they know how quick-triggered cops can be with a smart mouthed young black man. Most people don’t know. I’m scared for my brother every day because he’s already got a record and that’s the only excuse they need. Most people don’t know. A young black boy was murdered 15 minutes from my house because he liked Skittles and Arizona (RIP Trayvon Martin). Most people don’t know. I’ve been asked if I was selling drugs in my neighborhood. Most people don’t know. My best friend has been strip searched on a dark road driving home from Bible college. Most people don’t know. I pray my sisters never talk back to the wrong cop (RIP Sandra Bland). Most people don’t know. I hope my sisters never run into a cop with an affinity for black women (Prayers to the victims of Daniel Holtzclaw). Most people don’t know. My mom has told me having black sons makes her scared for us. Most people don’t know.
The trauma of decades of police brutality have shaped my view of police since I was a child. In my family police were never a friend. Most people don’t know.
No. YOU don’t know. If we only view the world through our own experiences, we’ll never believe anything beyond what we’ve seen. Stop trying to understand issues that don’t affect you, through your own lens. Ask somebody who doesn’t look like you how they feel about (insert issue here).
“Yea, it makes me wanna holler, and throw up both my hands. Crime is increasing, trigger happy policing. Panic is spreading. God know where we’re heading.”
-Marvin Gaye, Inner-City Blues (1971)
“Fuck the police coming straight from the underground, young nigga got it bad cuz I’m brown. And not the other color so police think they have the authority to kill a minority.”
-NWA, Fuck the Police (1988)
“Cops keep firing in my environment. Leave you slumped over then they drive home far from the hood.”
-Nas, Classic (2007)*
*Super unrelated, Classic is a fire combo about Air Force Ones byNas, KRS-One, Rakim and Kanye. Go to YouTube now.