You, Me, Us, and Them…
I’m sure by now you have all heard the story of Terrence Crutcher, and if you haven’t please educate yourself by watching all the videos and reading about all of the information that has been released to the public about his death.
Generally, I’m the first to study and pick apart the facts of these videos we see. I saw Mike Brown’s video and my mind immediately went to supporting the officer. I’m not a BlackLivesMatter supporter, I think that whole movement is unorganized. As a Veteran, I take a very conservative but fact-based stance on any of these OIS (Officer Involved Shootings), because that’s what I do…I find fault where there is fault and I know how hard it is to put a uniform on and sacrifice your life for your community.
That being said, Terrence Crutcher didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to have his hands up, He didn’t deserve to be called a “bad guy” for having car trouble. He deserved help. He deserved to be given a chance to speak. He deserved to at the very least get CPR and First Aid.
The fact that you can be a man, be black, and comply with an officer then still pay the ultimate price has hit a new low for American Society.
I blame this on ignorance. Having been an African American female, adopted by a Caucasian family and raised as a Baha’i in a suburb of Seattle then at the age of 10 hoisted to small town Iowa, I was extremely fortunate to grow up in an enriching environment. I was exposed to different people, places, and cultures thus’ giving birth to very open minded (slightly country) adult woman. Does that mean I don’t stereotype? Hell no. I stereotype all the time. I literally stereotype my ass off (pun intended), see that..never-mind. But, let me break it down for you…
There are 3 main categories of separation that lead to a racial divide.
The first is Racial Ignorance. That’s the “If you’re from Africa why are you white?” comments or the “How did you get your hair curly like that”. These things aren’t meant to inflict any racial superiority on any one person. They are in Laments Terms just “dumb things” people say. They can also be disguised as jokes like “I’m wearing a lot of plaid today, I hope people don’t think i’m a lesbian” or “Why you actin lightskinned?”. The thing we all know about jokes is that they stem from general truths, but can also cause someone to get offended and even if that wasn’t your intention it stems from “Racial Ignorance”.
After Racial Ignorance comes Stereotyping. This is prevalent. EVERYONE stereotypes multiple times a day. It’s 100% normal. What’s not normal is using those stereotypes to form opinions based off of the stereotype and not facts. The “All Asians are good at math” or “Black people are lazy” or getting nervous because there is what appears to be a Muslim man on your flight all of those are OK to feel. However, if you meet an Asian and you treat him differently because you assume he will do your math homework you’re wrong. If you sit next to a Muslim man and instead of engage in conversation with him, you ask to change your flight or change seats, you’re wrong. You can meet someone and have an idea in your head about what they will be like. Mentally we get two options, you can give them a chance to destroy those stereotypes by getting to know them, or you can choose to not get to know them then justify negative/disrespectful actions used again them based off of stereotypes but choosing the latter then becomes racism, Yay! you’re a racist.
What a beautiful transition (pat myself on the back, you can give me a golf clap) Racism. An ugly, ugly thing that can be destroyed. You have the power to destroy it. Each individual holds that power, by allowing the people around them to break the stereotypes that are put in place by society. For me, that’s where I see Baha'i's being light-years ahead. The number one way to combat cultural ignorance is by cultural education. Unfortunately, racism (in my mind) is divided into conscious and subconscious behavior. The video of the Helicopter reporter calling Terrence Crutcher a “bad guy” is subconscious racism he didn’t have that mental block that I referenced earlier. In his head he didn’t take a minute to think about what he was going to say and how that might effect the life of the person he was talking about. Dousing a women on fire because she’s Muslim is conscious racism. Conscious racism is rare now because it’s easy to nip in the butt and thanks to the educators that came before us, the Dr. Martin Luther King’s and the Princess Diana’s etc. and all the others that devoted their lives to service and breaking down the man-made barriers used to segregate us . It’s easy for the KKK members to have a rally but we have a half black President living in the White House…so (sound the crickets) . It’s not easy for us to denounce subconscious racism because it’s hard to pinpoint. It’s wrapped under several layers like an onion and the deeper we get into discovering it the more tears fill our eyes and what happened in Tulsa, OK is just another tear-shed example. That’s the affect…the effect is senseless death based off of, at the very root Cultural Ignorance.
So what do we do? No, I don’t mean we as Black people, nope, I don’t even mean we as Americans. I mean we as Citizens of the World. We educate. We become grass roots supporters of the cause. For example, if you’re African American and you see Facebook users leaving comments on the Terrence Crutcher video saying; “He shouldn’t had been stopped in the road”, you DO NOT start to berate them, belittle them, call them names, hurl insults at them etc. you factually and intellectually school them. You see, when it comes to the never-ending debate of being Black in America we are the teachers. We have lessons to give, and give them eloquently, passionately; yes, but also rationally. Just like Colin Kaepernick has, his silent protest sparked a debate. If you’re in High School you can organize a water drive for your local Police Department. If you’re in college, ask to do a ride-along and get to know the officers that are hired to protect you, that’s well within your rights. (It doesn’t even have to be about race..if there is something wrong and you want to change it, you can. Take, Alicia Keys and her silent protest against the industry by not wearing make-up).
If you’re angered at the Terrence Crutcher video (as you should be) but you have no honest solution about to prevent it from happening then you are just as guilty as the lady cop that shot him.
This is not a time to get mad, getting mad won’t fix anything. No, neither will getting even, killing others’ is not the solution…education is. We are here to make sure the next generations learn from our faults. We need to raise children that look passed the stereotypes that precede others and take a moment to get to know the human inside.
Excuse my typing errors, just wanted to get some thoughts off of my chest.