Media Lit Post #1 — The Shooting of Terence Crutcher

When 40 year-old Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it sparked anger and controversy around the country. He has become a symbol for racism and an unjust legal system in the US to some. The video footage has been spread all around the Internet for all to see and add their take on the situation in the comments section.

As someone who is open about my political views and ideals, my immediate reaction to a situation like this is to talk about my opinions on gun violence in America. However, these situations are too complex to simply blame them on one thing.

An often forgotten factor is the dehumanization of black people. It is so easy to think of black people as the stereotypical names they are given — one that comes into mind immediately when speaking in terms of police brutality is “thug.” These black people — especially people from low income families and areas — are painted to be nothing but thugs from birth. Not boys, not girls. Not brothers, not sisters. Not mothers, fathers, friends, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives. This idea is so deeply ingrained that it is hard to detect and tough to consider when we react to this issue. Even worse, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a young black man is labeled a thug from the day he steps foot out of the house, would it be so surprising for him to believe it himself? Would it be so shocking if he were to become the things he was told he would be his whole life?

Perhaps you firmly and truly believe these black people being killed by cops were thugs — perhaps they are thugs. Maybe Terence Crutcher was not a good man. Maybe he should’ve been put into jail. Maybe he was a thug. No matter what he did or who he was, he was an unarmed person who did not even get a chance at a trial. What we seem to forget is that, after all they may have done, even “thugs” are people.