Most have seen the latest in the many cases of a European America accusing an African American, who is minding their own business, of stealing something or doing something that is illegal. The most recent recorded incident happened the day after Christmas at the Arlo hotel in Soho where a European American woman accused a 14-year-old African American child of stealing her IPhone. The father of the young man taped the incident, and you can hear the woman screaming that she knows that he, the 14-year-old stole her phone. The woman apparently had stayed at the hotel earlier in the week and was not even a guest of the hotel at the time she made the accusation. The manager of the hotel approaches the young man and ask to see his phone. Thank goodness the father of the young man was there and able to stop the manager from taking his son’s phone.
The father and son, unlike the European woman, were guest of the hotel but the manager automatically sided with the woman and asked the young man to hand over the phone so he could check if it belonged to the woman. Thank goodness his father was there to stop the manager from confiscating his phone. We continue to see issues with European Americans policing/accosting people of color as if we must justify our mere existence to them. We have seen BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, Cornerstone Caroline, and many others. Amy Cooper called police on an African American man who asked her to leash her dog while he was in Central Park bird watching. She even knew what to say, “there is an African American man threatening my life!” “He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.”
We have seen what can happen when police interact with African Americans, particularly males, think of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Philando Castile and the list just continues to grow. While most police are dedicated to protecting and serve the reality is that communities of color are not sure that the same standard applies to them. One in three African American males will be under the control of the criminal justice system within their lifetime. Studies continue to show that African Americans are more prone to be stopped by police, frisked and questioned (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/03/10-things-we-know-about-race-and-policing-in-the-u-s/).
Race is a social construct but continues to impact life chances. Biologically there is only one race, human! Due to the historical colonization of this nation, the racist ideologies of the founding fathers and the lack of interaction between communities that do not look similar we continue to see the policing of people of color by others who don’t have authority. With white privilege and the stereotypical beliefs that African Americans are more prone to criminality things are not going to get better. We must address this issue head on and begin to penalize those who want to accost African Americans for doing everyday things. People must be prosecuted, lose their jobs and live with the stigma that they falsely accused a person of committing a offenses due to nothing relevant but because of their beautiful pigment of their skin.
We must be aware that our BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) students are having to navigate in a society that often does not see their value. We must validate their feelings and begin to try and understand the emotional toll that these interactions have on them. People in marginalized or subjugated communities are not asking for sympathy or trying to guilt people into understanding but would appreciate some empathy and acknowledgement. We have a problem in America, the continued over policing of our bodies and actions and a lack of empathic responses. Do not be a passive bystander when you see injustice take place, be active and learn how you can help those who are being harassed. Allyship is a verb and something that requires active participation in the deconstruction of the oppressive systems that our BIPOC students are navigating daily, even on campus.
Things to consider: