White Guy’s Car Breaks Down vs. #TerenceCrutcher’s
In 2005 I was in Dallas, Texas visiting Southern Methodist University. I had applied to their PhD program in New Testament and had a few meetings with professors and other officials at the school.
On my way back home (which was Waco, Texas at the time), my 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix stalled out in the middle of a busy intersection. I was panicked! I did my best to try to move my car out of the way, but all my efforts were proving unsuccessful.
A squad car came on the scene after a few minutes, followed by another one. I was outside of my car in plain sight and I was still frantically trying to push the car out of the intersection. Two of the officers approached me and asked me what was going on. I snapped at them and said something like, “Obviously my car is broken down! I could use some help!”
They didn’t hesitate…they helped me. I was rude, frantic, and unkind. And they helped me. At the time I was 6’2″ and over 250 lbs. I was a big dude. And they helped me. I was broke down in the middle of a busy intersection, leaving an institution of higher learning. And they helped me.
Well, in a similar situation in Tulsa, Oklahoma recently, a man named Terence Crutcher was leaving an institution of higher learning, his car broke down on what appears to be a quiet street, and, based on the videos that have been released, was pretty calm and not frantic at all. And Terence appears to be a big dude, maybe as big as I was in 2005.
But when the police arrived on the scene in his situation, their response was different than how the police responded to me. They didn’t help him. Instead he ended up getting hit by a Taser and then fatally shot despite having his hands up and moving about peacefully. And to make matters worse, he was left on the road for minutes after being shot before anyone bothered to check to see if he was okay or even still alive.
It’s hard for me not to compare the two situations. What’s different? I was broken down in a busy intersection and I was frantic and a little rude to the police. Terence was broken down on what looks like a not-very-busy street and he appears quite calm.
Oh, and of course, I’m white and Terence is black. It’s also hard for me not to see how the color of his skin impacted his situation.
Sure, more evidence will come to light…but based on what I’ve seen and heard, it’s really difficult not to think that Terence is dead today at least in part because he’s black (and therefore seen as a threat) and that I was helped in 2005 at least in part because I’m white (and therefore not seen as a threat).
Do #BlackLivesMatter? It appears that Terence’s didn’t matter all that much…
Originally posted here: http://jaymatthewbarnes.com/2016/09/20/terencecrutcher/