I have been silent on the murder of George Floyd because I am ashamed. I am ashamed that white men with guns can show up at state capitol buildings to protest COVID-19 lockdowns and to cough on police; but an unarmed black* man can die as a result of being a suspect in passing a counterfiet bill. There is no justice in that and no logical reason for it. The FBI has said for decades that the idea that black people commit more crimes than whites is untrue. It is a 48-52% split with blacks being responsible for just 52% of captured criminals.
This means those white men with guns at the capitol buildings are just as likely to be criminals as the black men pulled over for not using a blinker to make a right turn. Yet, A study by St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri found blacks are 50% more likely than whites to have their vehicles searched during a routine traffic stop. Furthermore, a review of dashcam footage by multiple institutions has found black males are more likely to be arrested for resisting arrest than white men who put up a fight with police. This is called crime bias and nearly everyone has it.
However, that doesn’t excuse it. Quite the opposite. We must do better. We must be better. Not just the police, but all of us. This isn’t just a “police problem” it’s a reflection of a societal problem. When something like this happens I struggle to decide if it’s white supremacy or just a basic lack of caring and understanding. I am very pro-police and I know far more amazing police officers than bad ones, but I’m a white woman and nearly every encounter I’ve had with the police has been positive. Hell, a black cop helped me come up with the SCTU and even introduced me to a US marshal when I was in high school. But again, I am a white female; I benefit from crime bias.
But, I am terrified by it as well. The kid across the street from us when my nephews lived with me growing up was black. He is as dear to me as my flesh and blood and I am terrified that one day, I will have to attend his funeral for no other reason than he is black. He was a great kid growing up, never in trouble and my god, so polite. No criminal record, not even a parking a ticket in his 25+ years, but he lives in a city with nearly 2 million people and I know that even in 2020 he could die for driving while black and that scares the shit out of me. Yet, not once in the last 25+ years have I ever worried about my mouthy, jerk of a nephew with a criminal record dying during a traffic stop. And all I can think is “that is so fucked up.” My nephew even has a history of resisting arrest and I’ve still never once worried about him being killed by a cop… but the “adopted nephew” I think of it every damn day. And if it isn’t a traffic stop what happens if he runs across a George Zimmerman or those guys that murdered Ahmaud Arbery?
No one is going to know by looking at him that he is possibly the politest man on the planet and I don’t think they will talk to him long enough to find it out.
I don’t have the solution beyond telling people to look beyond the color of a person’s skin and I’ve never understood why that was difficult, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized for a lot of people it is. I’ve also learned people want to believe the lies put out by organizations like the CCC and KKK; that blacks are committing genocide against whites and my absolute favorite put out by the CCC that 100 white people a day are killed by blacks (they aren’t that would mean more than 36,500 white people a year are murdered by blacks not counting the number killed by whites and there aren’t that many total homicides in a year in the US at this time – there were 16,214 total homicides in 2018 the most recent year for stats according to the FBI).
I do know crime bias plays a role in these deaths. And I know this because the same cop that helped me create the SCTU admitted to me a long time ago that he suffered from crime bias. Sadly, crime bias impacts more than just black men at traffic stops. Tens of thousands of blacks die in prison every year and before you point out they are in fact criminals… blacks are routinely given much longer sentences for the same crimes as their white counterparts and it proves Lady Justice isn’t blind like we pretend.
The very creation of this country and our presence in it means we should all be blind to the color of a person’s skin. Nearly all of us once fled here looking to escape prejudice and senseless hate for our ethnicity, religion, social standing, or who we were… and many because our ancestors were criminals.
*In the last four or five years many of my black friends have told me to stop using the term African American and use the term black. People don’t walk around calling me a European American so why do they need to be known by the continent of their ancestors? They are just American and they happen to be dark skinned. I’m white, they are black not something that’s a big deal. This makes sense to me… But as a 90s kid, my habit is to use African American, I am working to break myself of it.