11 comments on “Black Targets

  1. I’m afraid that it hasn’t been a good start to the year in so many aspects. I am sorry to hear about these shootings. No doubt racial profiling has contributed to these incidents. However, I almost feel racial profiling is human nature. We all tend to label other groups of people. The only way is to not allow ourselves to react just on the basis of racial profiling and prejudice. This will never happen until the community and the police see each other as partners for a common hope of a better future instead of rival combatants. Prejudice can only disappear through the development of relationships across the battle lines.

  2. Hello LGS. Happy New Year to you, my friend!

    I almost feel racial profiling is human nature.

    I think it’s too convenient to suggest that racial profiling is somehow inherent. Arguing that our psyche is programmed by human nature assumes that racism is unavoidable and that we are somehow predisposed to make judgements about people based on their skin color. I would argue otherwise. Oppositely, I think racial profiling is a learned behavior. I think it’s implied – mostly in a subtle way, but often in no uncertain terms – that certain people possess certain tendencies. In the face of this reality, it’s no wonder innocent and non-threatening black people are clouded with a presumption of guilt even before they have a chance to utter a word.

    The only way is to not allow ourselves to react just on the basis of racial profiling and prejudice. This will never happen until the community and the police see each other as partners for a common hope of a better future instead of rival combatants.

    I agree wholeheartedly. The only problem I see with this is that black people have been historically subjected to brutality and injustice for so long, it is very hard from them to amicably lay down their swords. A battered wife usually does not take it upon herself to be the peacemaker. That honor is typically reserved for the agressor.

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. Hey Dre,
    This brings up a point I made a long time ago and still ponder. Why is it the DNR officers have found a way to approach people, who are 100% armed, and have next to no problems? I have been pulled over by both and I can tell you the difference is obvious. The DNR always seems to approach me like a fellow hunter (friendly) and the police approach me like I’m a potential criminal even if I was only speeding. I used to work for the DNR and the CO’s told me they are taught to view hunters as a source of income-theirs. Maybe we should send some of these cops to some DNR training so they’ll stop viewing us as the enemy and start viewing us as the ones that pay their salaries.

  4. As you did in the previous post, you conveniently left out the fact that many of us actually DO engage in certain behavior that fuels people’s prejudice. If we don’t want to be associated with crime and inexcusable behavior, it is time for us to be more critical of those of who are involved in such behavior. What they do affects the rest of us.

  5. @ HC: “Maybe we should send some of these cops to some DNR training so they’ll stop viewing us as the enemy and start viewing us as the ones that pay their salaries.

    Excellent point. I agree 100%.

    On the flip side however, I think opponents of your argument would say you’re comparing apples to oranges. Comparing armed folks with the sole intention of hunting animals to potential criminals could be a stretch. Still, your ultimate thesis rings true: instead of operating off the presumption of guilt, perhaps police officers need to be trained to properly assess a situation before taking action. A part of that assessment involves treating all “suspects” as people first until the suspect gives them a reason to think otherwise. For example, in the Tolan case, there is no reason why the officers could not have taken a full twenty seconds to run the plates of the vehicle suspected to be stolen. If they would’ve taken a split moment, it would’ve clearly shown the address at the residence matched the one on the registration. Some of the stories of police violence aren’t even heat-of-the-moment and reactionary events. Instead these are stories where deadly outcomes could have easily been prevented with even a modicum of sense and standard procedure.

  6. @ Anon:

    f we don’t want to be associated with crime and inexcusable behavior, it is time for us to be more critical of those of who are involved in such behavior. What they do affects the rest of us.

    The problem with your argument is that you “conveniently” leave out the after effects of myopic and racially-based profiling. When law enforcement officials narrowly place particular attention on a certain kind of person, that eliminates much room for opening an indiscrimate and discerning eye to other people…people who may, in fact, be engaged in the same acts! For instance, I remember on a comedy parodying ‘hood movies, two black teens walk in a store and draw the suspicion of the store owners. Meanwhile, a white man with an innocent shirt-and-tie look enters shortly after. While the owners are following the black teens, the white guy is robbing the store blind. Granted, this was all done in humor. But the ulitmate issue remains: as long as you’re looking for black suspects, that’s what you’ll find. But that’s not to say that blacks (a small majority of blacks, at that) are the only ones involved in crime.

    Secondly…and I hate to toss out hypotheticals, but bear with me…imagine two black men. The first is a successful man with an Ivy League education, a lucruative, six-figure job with a Fortune 500, a nice home, and nice cars. Oppositely, the other man is a high school dropout, working a dead end job in a miserable part of a city. The fact that many police (and, for that matter, many of us in general) would look beyond their social differences while focusing more on the lone commonality of skin color tells the story of race in this country. In this most polar of circumstances, race still trumps every aspect of a person’s experience and existence. When even education, wealth, and success can’t eclipse race, this becomes more than an issue of ‘us doing better‘.

  7. Anonymous, creating some mythical notion of black pathology to explain away police misuse of power is sadly misguided.

    As you were.

  8. Well, my friend, this is a topic very dear to my heart. So many Black men and women have been murdered by the police in just the past year alone. In almost every case, the murders came as a result of racial profiling.

    What peeves me as much is that so many Caucasian perps carry bats, knives, and even guns, but are able to be “talked down” instead of fired upon. For the most part, the African-Americans who were killed by the police last year (as in other years past) have been unarmed and posed absolutely no threat. Ironically (or rather – sadly), the police officers in question contend that they felt threatened.

    I live in Philadelphia where racial profiling is the number one reason for being stopped by the police (otherwise known as “walking while Black”). I went through it many years ago, and, now, I see the younger generation suffering the very same injustices. Please continue to post about the outrageousness of it all in the hope that someday . . . someday . . . it will end. Peace.

  9. Free,

    Thank you for sharing your “walking while black” story. It speaks directly to the ideas suggested in this post.

    It also reminds me of an experience I had in New Orleans last year when some classmates and I were volunteering during our Alternative Spring Break. While we worked during the day, the nights belonged to us; mostly spent hitting the French Quarter. One particular night after putting in a pretty long day of work and also being a bit fatigued from all the walking we did, we took a breather on a porch in front of an apartment unit. Not too long after that, a squad car pulled up next to us. They immediately began giving us the third degree about why we were there. To date, I feel as if the only saving grace we had that night was that we were wearing beads, were not inebriated, and were non-confrontational (using “Yes sirs” until our mouths dried up). To date, some of us share the belief that had we responded any other way than how we did, we would’ve spent that night in a holding cell; perhaps worse.

    To the average person, this sounds like a simple case of police ensuring that people aren’t trespassing on private property. And they’d most likely be correct. But the existence of racism causes historically targeted minorities to second guess everything. Therein lies the unfortunate – perhaps eternal – schism between police and people of color.

  10. thanks Andre for continuing to keep us informed. i hadn’t heard about these nor the story about the other incident you reported on last week.

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