The REAL Problem with McKinney

I am so incredibly troubled by the incident in McKinney, Texas last week that I can’t see straight. And I do not mean the incident itself. I’m talking about the coverage of the incident, and the overall discussion of the incident.

For a minute, take race out of it. If you read this blog, I know you can; you’re smart. Look at the video without the lens of race.

Imagine those are your kids and their friends. Even before the most notorious action in the video, the officer is abusive and is treating these people as if they don’t count. A person who took an oath to protect the community, who works for the people in that community, should just be allowed to hurl obscenities at children? Yes, I know; they’ve all heard them before and some of them probably use them a lot. That’s beside the point. Police are supposed to set an example. If they’re not capable of that, they shouldn’t be police officers. Period. I know for a fact I could never be a police officer because I have little patience with stupidity, and as a cop I would see too much of it, including much from other cops. So, I don’t become a cop. I write.

But let’s put the race back in for a minute, because it matters. And lets talk about the most notorious part of this video, in which the police officer is manhandling a beautiful little 15-year-old girl. If you can imagine that cop would do that with a tall, lean blonde white girl, you have a hell of an imagination, and no sense of history.

Now, imagine that is your little girl. Imagine that is your 15-year-old daughter, and a grown man, fit and in his 30s, is throwing her around like you see. He’s throwing her on the ground like a rag doll, and not just on the soft grass, but also on cement. At a couple of points, he has her down on the ground with his knee into her back. Look closely; do you see anyone acting aggressively toward that police officer, beyond maybe a few choice words? They all have swimming gear and t-shirts on, and when the officer tells them to sit down, they obey. The only thing they ask is that he just let them go. Where is the threat, when he pulls out his gun? The answer is, it’s nowhere; it’s all in his mind. We like to imagine that police are “always in danger” and always put their life on the line, but really; in a seven-minute video, where’s the threat?

We are supposed to protect our children. Hell, if I saw a little girl that I didn’t know being thrown around like a rag doll, I would intervene, at the risk of getting my head bashed in. I’ve done it before. That’s what decent people do. We all live here, folks; and we all should be taking care of each other. Unfortunately, there is way too much “them-ism” when it comes to black people. I don’t know what it is, but when most white people (and yes, even a whole lot of liberals – I’ll get to that in a minute) see black people, they see “unruly.” The neighbors who called police didn’t see a bunch of teenagers having a good time; they saw a bunch of “savages” causing trouble. What is it with white people – and I don’t just mean here in the United States; it happens in other countries, too – that makes them fearful when they see black people just trying to enjoy life? The only thing I can think of is, they must be worried that black people will want to do to white people what white people did to them for many years.

I hate to break it to you, white folks, but they make up about 14 percent of the population; if they wanted to cause some shit, they could cause some serious shit. Yet, they don’t. You don’t actually see gangs of black people roaming the streets of Beverly Hills and burning down homes. You don’t see them moving into formerly white neighborhoods and trashing their property; if you see garbage in the front yard and a car up on blocks, I can almost guarantee the owner is a fat white beer-swilling redneck. Have you been in a trailer park? Those are not usually inhabited by non-white people.

And while many white liberals are thinking right now, “Well at least he’s not talking about me,” well, think again. Many white liberals are almost as bad as a typical modern-day Republican. Black people don’t need us to treat them like they’re children who need our help to survive. Advocate to help them change the system so they can live their own lives in whatever way they see fit; don’t pity them and be patronizing to them. “They” don’t need our help to live; they need our votes and our advocacy to make the system stop screwing them.

And let’s be real, folks; going to college, getting a degree and studying sociology does not make any white person understand the black experience. You can’t; it’s impossible. All you can do is observe. White privilege is not something someone made up, and white liberals who deny its existence infuriate me. It has nothing to do with your wealth and your upbringing. it has nothing to do with how hard you had to work to get where you are.

White privilege is about the fact that, because you are white, you will never be passed by 20 cabs on a Manhattan street in a rainstorm before one stops for you. It’s about the fact that you, as a white person, will NEVER be stopped by a police officer anywhere unless you actually do something or you actually look suspicious. It’s about not having to walk into Sears and know that every camera in the place is pointed directly at you. It’s about only having to apply for 20 good jobs to get one, and not 100. It’s about white people never seeing the look of surprise on a job interviewer’s face because, well, you have a “white name” or being dismissed as a candidate for a job because you don’t have a “white name.”

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be black, and I would never insult a black person by pretending that I do. Our purpose as liberals is not to understand it, but to acknowledge that things are not equal and work to fix that. What happened in McKinney had everything to do with race, and the divisions that exist and continue to be propagated. I’m sorry, but if you side with that police officer in that situation, the only thing I can say for you is, you have no compassion. That officer was treating that little girl like no one should ever be treated, period. And police were called by someone who only did so because those kids were black, and, let’s face it; black people who are having a good time are “unruly,” according to a whole lot of white people. Every year, when a white college wins a championship, white people go crazy, loot stores and turn over cars, but the word “riot” is only used when black people are killed by police for no good reason in “black cities” like Baltimore and Ferguson.

Are the teenagers at the pool party absolutely innocent in all of this? I can’t tell you, because I wasn’t there. But I do know that, when white teenagers get unruly, the police tend to sit them all down on the ground, get everything under control and call parents. I was in a white shopping mall once when a fight broke out among a bunch of white teenagers. Police arrived, locked the doors and stopped the, um, “disturbance” without one kid being thrown to the ground or tackled, or treated as if they were a worthless piece of meat. They took the kids to the station and called parents, and the kids were all slapped on the wrist. And I have to tell you; that fight scared me, and I don’t scare easy. In McKinney, they threw someone’s precious little girl on the ground as if she was worth nothing and became offended when her friends objected. That’s not cool.

As for the police, I’m glad the guy resigned, because he doesn’t have the temperament for police work. Do I think he’s racist? I don’t know him. But I do know that the police mentality tends toward “them-ism,” and racism is right in the middle of that. Police are supposed to “protect and serve.” I saw no protecting or serving in that video, just the absolute abuse of a precious little girl.

It’s time to stop pretending there’s no problem. And I don’t mean a problem with police. I mean a problem with the way we talk about this stuff.


The REAL Problem with McKinney — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Milt. I am glad you shared your point of view and I appreciate the points that you make on the subject. I do wish that more people could take a step back and take a look at situations in this manner. Well done, sir.

  2. Absolutely agree, Milt…The number one thing that disgusts me no end is to hear comment from white people dismissing what is clearly going on: an out of control, profanity-spewing officer who consistently throws people of color on the ground. To hear that young girl sobbing into the grass and calling for her Mom is heartbreaking, and to actually comment, as I’ve read, that the African American kids were “better off just sitting down and obeying” and that they somehow deserved this treatment is simply beyond reason, beyond compassion, beyond awareness of this type of racism going on today, STILL. What was most telling was Casebolt referring to the crowd as a “mob”. (When was the last time you saw a pool party of a few white people — even if there was a fight — being called a mob?) But what I’ve also noticed is that when white folks do express outrage, it is supported by people of color, because THEY AREN’T HEARING IT ENOUGH from us. I’m glad Casebolt resigned, and I’m glad that the McKinney police chief publicly called Casebolt’s actions “indefensible”, but I really fear for systemic racism not being properly addressed with a thorough, criminal investigation. (And apparently there are reports of historical corruption at the McKinney police department) And of course, this dismissive commentary happens in other instances of social injustice, as in the case of Evan Young, here in Longmont, trying to portray him as “a spoiled brat who didn’t follow rules” instead of a brave young man who was trying to use his example of coming out as gay in his commencement speech as a way of making the point that, even though we might disagree, we need to respect each other. But I found this quote from Tim Wise said it best, and it could be applied to any discriminated group: “I know there are some well-meaning (as well as not well meaning) white folks who say how awful the killing of Walter Scott was “regardless of the racial element,” but please… When we as white folks strip away the social context within which these things happen, or refuse to acknowledge the generations-long soul wound imposed by racism upon peoples of color, we speak as if history didn’t happen, as if historical memory doesn’t matter, as if every day is disconnected from the last, and patterns are irrelevant. We speak, in other words, as persons with the privilege of ignoring the backbeat of white supremacy, as persons who enjoy the luxury of viewing life as a collection of random experiences, and ourselves are mere individuals floating through that life. How nice. People of color have not the luxury of such a conceit …”