The two completely different ways the protagonists were treated in this video ought to be revolting, sickening, and disgusting to every person who sees it.
The only justification for the difference between how the white guys carrying guns and the black guy carrying a gun were treated is racism. Plain and simple, it’s racism. It’s more evidence of the racism that is so deeply ingrained in our culture that some people in this country think a black president means we live in a “post-racial” America. That’s ridiculous.
Besides the blatant racism on display in this video, what ought to mystify and anger us is the notion of “reverse racism,” or that somehow Obama is to blame for causing increased racial tensions. Both are absurd notions that come unraveled under even modest examination.
Blaming a black president, especially this one whom, for my money, hasn’t exactly been a Huey Newton or Malcom X type of leader and who has done about as good a job as possible considering how Republicans have behaved, for inflaming racial tension is not only ridiculous, it’s a sad and pathetic narrative we’ve heard in this country before. It’s really just the same code-speak used by whites going back at least to Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era. (For an erudite discussion on this, listen to this New Yorker podcast, “The Political Scene: The Legacy of Reconstruction.”)
The racially charged narrative of some whites seems to be based on the idea that “rights” are somehow a zero-sum game; that somehow by ensuring the rights of one group, we must somehow diminish the rights of others; that somehow leveling the playing field is a tilt against whites. That is also ridiculous and, in my view, patently racist. All it means is that whites will no longer have the privileges they once had bestowed upon themselves over other races.
As for the president, I think it’s one of the duties of a president to use their position to draw attention to the big problems our country faces. Inequality is one of them. As the president recently said (in the first 45 seconds of the above linked podcast), perhaps we should be asking minorities what THEY think of race relations in America instead of listening to what whites think about race relations.
To be sure, two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m disgusted with hatred by anyone toward anyone regardless of the races involved.
But, what videos like the one above and what so many others over so many years – and now recently in places like Ferguson and Baltimore – show us is the evidence of a deeply embedded cultural racism. When police act differently in seemingly identical situations and where the only apparent difference is the race of the civilians involved, what other conclusions can be drawn?
Jon Stewart recently forced us to confront this truth, too.
I get it. Some people will see things differently and will come to different conclusions when they see these images.
This is how I see it.
Racism is still one of this country’s big problems. It’s still with us. It’s so insidious and deeply ingrained that even in the 21st century and 150 years after the end of the Civil War, law enforcement seemingly doesn’t enforce laws equally when the only difference is race. Even worse, too many white Americans seem perfectly fine with that.
Yes, all lives matter, but saying Black Lives Matter isn’t an attack on anyone, and it doesn’t diminish the value of any lives of any other race. I think the only way you can find problems or insult or offense in Black Lives Matter is if you see it and hear through the lens of white privilege.
Yes, progress has been made in how we live together.
African Americans aren’t publicly hung anymore (but it wasn’t all that long ago when they were).
Schools have been integrated (although wealth and privilege still divide us all too often along racial lines).
Businesses can no longer legally discriminate on race (but it must be said that extremist Republicans are passing laws now that allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation which, while not racist, is certainly discriminatory).
What does it say about us as a nation and as a people when some of us are perfectly fine with our police forces showing up in places like Ferguson and Baltimore like this……
….while in other places we have this?
Rights are not a zero-sum game. We must demand that every human being be afforded the same rights; otherwise, they aren’t rights at all. They’re privilege.
When rights aren’t equal, they’re just an ugly facade used by the majority to subjugate and control – directly and indirectly – the lives of minorities.
And, when laws aren’t enforced equally, we all risk our freedom.
Racism, sadly, still exists in America. We need to confront it everywhere we see it; in the streets, in our businesses, and in our lives.