My house was one of the last stops before we made on our 40 minute commute to what was then called Young Jr. High School. In Tampa where I am from, children were bused from one side of town to the other from year to year to ensure a "proper" mix of races in the public school system. Young Jr. High was nestled right in the center of Ponce De Leon Housing Projects. That's right. I went to school in middle of the projects with Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian kids, and never once feared for my life. When we arrived at school in the morning the entire student body had to wait outside on the basketball courts before the bell rang. We then made a bee line to our lockers in order to make it to homeroom in the 7 minutes we were allotted. I can still hear the rumble of talking and laughter that consumed those basketball courts in the morning. Sometimes the smooth hum of laughter was freckled by a single voice yelling, "OH SNAP!!!" (or sh*t) followed by a stampede of 7th graders rushing towards one corner of the court where a fight broke out. This was the norm for me. I wasn't a thug, my friends weren't gangsters...unless you consider the orchestra a group of thugs with instrument cases aka weapons... then sure, we can go with that. We didn't have metal detectors at our entrance, and I don't ever recall seeing a police officer. Nevertheless, there were fights. Sure, we could say things were different back in 1996-1997 when I was in 7th grade, but were they?
I am literally heart broken by what happened at J-Town High School here in Louisville. Two black male students were fighting over a pair of headphones and the situation escalated to the point of police being called and a young man being tased. I watched the video with sadness in my heart as I saw a police officer repeatedly kick the young boy in the back while being pinned to the ground by another officer. You can save the "we weren't there's" and the "we don't know the whole story's". Those are simply phrases used to create dissonance between us and the victims. It's funny how our brains will allow us to have more compassion for animals than humans. I am in no way saying that it is ok to fight in school, and I definitely disagree with fighting a police officer. However, there comes a point when we have to really do some searching within ourselves to determine why we are not outraged at seeing excessive force used on young black boys.
March 13, 2017 the American Psychological Association published an article on their study of racial bias. The article is entitled "People See Black Men as Larger, More Life threatening Than Same-Size White Men". The results of their findings are bone chilling. Their study was conducted on 950 participants all from the United States who were shown color photos of black and white men. The participants were asked to estimate the height, weight, strength, and musculature of each of the men.
“We found that these estimates were consistently biased. Participants judged the black men to be larger, stronger and more muscular than the white men, even though they were actually the same size,” said Wilson. “Participants also believed that the black men were more capable of causing harm in a hypothetical altercation and, troublingly, that police would be more justified in using force to subdue them, even if the men were unarmed.”
- The American Psychological Association.
I can talk for hours about research that has been conducted on the correlation between color and perceived strength. When you think about it we all do it. I am almost certain this played a part in why the officers dealt with the situation the way they did. Just think about how women like a man that is "talk, dark, and handsome". It has been found that the bigger and darker a black man is, the more he is feared and perceived to be dangerous. So, the very thing women find to be attractive and enticing about men in general happens to be the very thing that is killing black men all over the country.
The Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter was thrown out of the JCPS school board meeting last week for protesting excessive criminalization of black males in the school system, and yesterday the Principal Matt Kingsley of Jeffersontown High School voluntarily stepped down without explanation.
It seems there are two approaches being taken to address this situation and many others dealing with race and police violence. One passive. One Aggressive. Which one will you take?