A Few Bad Apples Spoil the Whole Bunch
The phrase, Just a Few Bad Apples, denies Black people’s experiences as invalid. It is a cruel way of saying, “It’s not that bad.” They claim these acts of violence are outliers. However, the force is consistent with a pattern of behavior we can trace back to the origins of this country. Furthermore, the saying goes, “A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.” So, if the people defending police use this phrase, they should not take it out of context.
Part of the problem stems from a warrior mentality (Vitale, 2018).
Police officers, trained as warriors, must fight against the enemy. In America, African Americans are all citizens. Thus, it seems bizarre to place warriors amongst us. This decision appears less odd when you understand the history of policing.
Organized policing was one of the many types of social controls imposed on enslaved African Americans in the South. Physical and psychological violence took many forms, including an overseer’s brutal whip, the intentional breakup of families, and the private employment of slave catchers to track down runaways (Hansen, 2020).
There is no coincidence that modern policing emphasizes control over BIPOC communities.
Those who swore an oath to protect and serve often find joy in oppressing Black people and people of color. Too many white people are in denial of this fact.
Yet, as Chauvin looked into that camera, that became America’s eye, he never looked away. No shame existed because, to him, that level of force was acceptable. And the other officers dropped their knees on his back, contributing to his inability to breathe. The onlooking officer, the alleged good apple, did not feel inclined to save George Floyd’s life. How good can an apple headed officer be if they watch a man die?
The racist system turns a color-blind eye to police officers’ violent acts, but it does not make them act this way. If there are only a few bad apples, why do those good apples remain silent?
In the case of Breonna Taylor, officers failed to complete their police report. The officers failed to report her injuries even though she died due to shots fired by those same officers who entered the home using a no-knock warrant. Because Black women are at the bottom of the totem pole, they consistently receive no justice.
Law And Order — The Dog Whistle
White supremacists often use the phrase, Law and Order to scare other white people about BIPOC communities. They want to dredge up fear of Black backlash.Since the abolition of slavery, many feared that Black people would hurt white people in some grand revenge scheme. However, this never happened and was never part of the plan for Liberation. Black people wanted freedom, not violence for the sake of violence. It is dehumanizing to make that claim.
Now, we want the same respect granted to others within our society: our Civil Rights. Black people, time and time again tell the community that officers violate their civil liberties. To deny our cries as invalid is to deny our humanity. To fear Black people is to hate Black people and that disrespect is what causes uprisings from sea to shining sea.
Nixon mobilized racial fears through the lens of “law and order” to convince Southern whites to vote Republican for the first time since reconstruction (Vitale, 2018).
The racists flipped sides politically because of the crux of Nixon’s argument. They want to believe that Black people are dangerous and that strong white men must protect them. Until white people decide not to call the police on the young black children playing basketball, using the community pool, walking home with skittles and stop seeing Black people as inherently criminal, the conditions will not change. Until we can admit that increased police presence does not make us safer, officers will continue to abuse and kill Black men and women.
Chauvin choked George Floyd to death while the whole world watched. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds seemed too much to bear for our worn hearts.
Do not look away. America has a bad reputation for looking away for the gory parts. Despite America’s supposed reckoning on race, I contend that it is just a show. Even though white people saw the video, marched in the street, and opened the dialogue, it begs the question, “How committed are our allies”?
Will they continue to look as the abuses continue, or will the fad dissipate, leaving the BIPOC community holding the hot potato?
You can put on a Black Lives Matter shirt, talk to your friends about supporting BIPOC communities, or write your heart out about race. However, white Americans can look away. Black people do not have that privilege.
Recently, I watched the mini-series, When They See Us. It hurt so much to see those Black young men beaten, scared and intimidated by police officers. The Central Park Five, now known as The Exonerated Five, were wrongfully convicted. I wanted to reach through time and be a kind voice for them.
My Message to My Black Brothers and Sisters:
You are entitled to speak to a lawyer.
If they do not place you under arrest, you are free to leave.
Endure the beatings, but do not let them break you.
You are not alone.
White Silence is Violence
We cannot escape the uneasiness of it all. The support has been kind. But forgive me if I doubt the authenticity of it all. Since when did white Americans feel this deep sense of consistent solidarity?
Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action (Martin Luther King Jr, 1963).
It seems to feign credulity to say that passive onlookers care about Black people. Fighting against racism takes patience and persistence because you may never see the change you want in your lifetime. However, we must rise from the depths of our dark past.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season (Martin Luther King Jr, 1963).
Those who condemn the riots in the street should consider Martin Luther King Jr’s words about moderate white allies. Black people should not choke on their tears; they have every right to fight, be angry, and defend themselves when attacked.
A few bad apples spoil the bunch. Consider the bunch ruined then. American policing as an institution has failed to keep neighborhoods safe, de-escalate, respect the humanity of those they swore to protect, and be transparent with the community. It is past time for Americans to recognize the consistent disrespect towards BIPOC communities and stop it at any cost. Allies should buckle up. We are in for a long ride.
Hansen, |. (2020, June 03). Slave Patrols: An Early Form of American Policing. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://lawenforcementmuseum.org/2019/07/10/slave-patrols-an-early-form-of-american-policing/
King, M. L., Jr. (1963). Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
Vitale, A. S. (2018). The end of policing. London, UK: Verso.