Reverse Racism: Do "White" Policemen Deserve It?

by Keshree on September 29, 2014 - 4:30pm

Summary

                In “Michael Brown Shooting: Why Black Americans Believe They’re Targeted by the Police”, by the CBC, the main idea is that Black Americans feel that they are targeted by the police.

According to Professor John Hurwitz, it has become very hard to tell whether the relationships between the Black American community and the police force have improved or gotten worse. Another place where the feelings are ambiguous, are the police forces efforts to improve relationships. This they have tried through the recruiting of Black men into the force, community oriented policing, etc. Professor Hurwitz comments that the recruiting of minority police officers, though not a guarantee to success is certainly a much needed improvement.

There is a discrepancy between the reports of Black Americans and White Americans on the type of treatment, rude or polite, that they receive from the police. This, according to Professor Hurwitz, could be due to the prevalence of stereotypes about the Black community according to which they are supposed to be violent. However, Professor Hurwitz does not reject the possibility that Black Americans truly may be rude to the policemen to which they respond accordingly.

Still, if the police try, as they did in Boston with the Black clergy, they can forge good relationships with organisations that can help create a link of trust between the neighbourhood residents and themselves. They only need to be willing to try unconventional approaches. However, according to Rod Brunson, despite all this there may still be problems if the policemen are posted in high crime areas where they come across situations requiring force. In these cases the blame lies on both sides.

Response

The truth is that I expected this article to be about the Ferguson incident but it is not. The title is misleading and almost a sort of Red Herring. Other than that, the article was well-structured with the paragraphs relating to one another. I really like that the author tried to present the two sides of the coin instead of just focusing on how “those white people are just so racist”. Most articles that relate to this sort of topic try to downplay the fact that the “white people” may not have been wrong either. I feel that nowadays, it has become the “trend” to bash on “whites” and how racist they are. Do not get me wrong. I am not “white” and I do not have slave mentality. I do agree that in many cases (e.g.: Hitler, Ku Klux Klan, etc.), the “whites” were at fault and they committed atrocious acts. But this does not give us a licence for reverse racism.

I get it. We feel bad when we think about the atrocious crimes their ancestors committed against the rest of us. I also get angry when I think about that but I think that there is a limit to how victimised the rest of us can feel. It cannot be possible that every time you get stopped by a “white” policeman it is certainly because you are of “colour”. We need to also consider the fact that they might just be doing their jobs. As was mentioned in the article, the policemen are trained to arrest people according to what they deem to be suspicious demeanor. For example, in Ms. Watts’ case, the policeman only asked for ID because she and he boyfriend fit the description of a couple the neighbours had complained about. The actress did not even consider the fact that he probably just did not think his actions could be perceived as racist. She also even admits that she was on the phone when he came up. So why does she accuse him of being disrespectful when he asked her boyfriend for her ID?

With all these incidents popping up I feel that we are starting to see too much into the actions of the “white” policemen. I think that the author of the article is right to report that the possibility that the policemen could also be seeing these incidents in a very different non-racist light. I like that the author does not only report that the police force has been racist in this way or that way. She/he also mentions what the police force has been doing to remedy to these situations.

The point of this article may have been missed though. The article is titled “Michael Brown Shooting: Why Black Americans Believe They’re Targeted by the Police”. There are a few incidents that back up why “Black Americans” would believe they are targeted but most of the article is based on what the police are doing, why they are doing it and what they should be doing. It beats the point of the title which is “Why do Black Americans believe they are being targeted?” What is it that could possibly have made them think that the policemen are after their particular population (NB: population is used in biological terms here)?

The article does briefly mention racial profiling as the author talks about the prevalent stereotypes on “Black Americans”. I guess that I agree it is very possible that some policemen still do that. I once heard a story about a woman arrested for having a luxury handbag just because she “looked” like she could not afford it. In these cases, we can say that this is clearly racism. But we cannot accuse every single policeman of racism because he is “white” and you are of “colour”. What if you were arrested for the same reason by a “black” policeman? In Ms. Watts’ case, it could just as easily have been a “black” policeman who responded to the call and demanded ID. Would it still be considered racism then?

I understand that I am being very controversial. A lot of people might think that I am defending “white” people and I have this disgusting mentality that they are above the rest of us. But if you are reading this and that is what you got from all that I said, I am sorry to say that I did a very poor job of presenting my case. My point is that it is okay to be angry at the people who belittle you and it is okay to feel angry at the people who mistreated your ancestors. But remember that the people today are not the ones who committed those heinous acts. You cannot punish someone for what their ancestors did any more than you can have less regard for someone due to what their genetic ancestry is. Respect goes both ways and that is what this article is more or less trying to get across, although poorly, I must admit.

CBC. (2014). Michael Brown shooting: why Black Americans believe they're targeted by police. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/08/13/michael-brown- shooting-w_n_5674099.html (25 September 2014)