The video of the McKinney Texas police officer assaulting and verbally abusing Black children at a pool party is perhaps the perfect frame to discuss how African-American and Latino youth are preyed upon in our communities. The indignities Black children face on a daily basis leaves them psychologically scarred, emotionally battered and emasculated. It is no wonder so many do not fulfill their potential and exist in a sort of suspended state as adults.
Perhaps no other video I have viewed recently, and that includes the police strangling of Eric Garner and gunning down of Michael Brown, has enraged me more than the scene of an adult, male police officer drawing his gun on teenagers and placing his knee in the back of a young Black girl who is in obvious distress and fearing for her life. When this is how police react to Black children, unarmed and simply exhibiting youthful exuberance at a pool party, it reveals the ugliness of racism in America and the degree to which our children are marginalized. Had that been my daughter being abused on that videotape, there would have been no concern on my part about my arrest or incarceration; the officer in question would have met early and permanent retirement.
Black children are casually and routinely abused in this country. In schools they are disciplined and suspended disproportionately for offenses their white peers receive little or no reprimand. That’s not simply my opinion; it’s truth borne out in data that has been widely reported. Black children are routinely denied access to the type of classes that are now considered necessary to confirm college and career readiness. It is the case in urban and suburban school districts, and across economic classes. Again, that’s not conjecture on my part; the U.S. Department of Education data reveals these practices. Black children are pariahs in their own community, permanent suspects and treated as criminals simply due to the color of their skin. As we witnessed in New York City, and other cities, Black youth are frequently stopped, detained and frisked by police when there is not probable cause, and without arrest. In other words, ‘just because we can’ is the excuse police use to regularly harass Black children. It is the type of attitude that the officer in McKinney Texas exhibited when he verbally and physically assaulted Black children and abused his authority. His suspension is insufficient. The officer should be fired, his pension stripped and he should be jailed.
The idea that these incidents of abuse of Black children are ‘isolated’ or outliers is a lie. This is standard operating procedure in America and the time has come for it to end. There can be no appeal to the ‘rule of law’ when the law is so perverted by those sworn to uphold it.
And before police apologists, white and Black, get on their soap box and start preaching about how Black children need to be respectful, let’s have a moment of truth. There are hundreds of incidents involving white youth, and white males in particular; acting violently and destroying property, and they are never subjected to the brutality heaped upon Black children. How many stories have there been of riots on college campuses involving white students or underage house parties fueled by alcohol binges and resulting in significant property damage, and police have responded with extreme constraint? The maltreatment of Black youth has become ingrained in the practices and procedures of police to the point that abusive behavior is now a transaction cost in policing.
What needs to be understood at this point by local law enforcement, and police unions, is that some of us will not stand for our children being treated like trash. Appeals for calm and patience fall upon deaf ears when it is only our children being tossed around on witness video footage. White parents do not have to fear that their children will look down the barrel of a police officer’s gun at a pool party, or be thrown to the ground and verbally abused. And we have grown tired of having to ‘train’ our children so they will be tolerated by whites in authority. We are fed up with our children living their lives conditionally. If the basic freedom ‘to be’ is violently stripped from our children, then why should we have any respect for those that act in such a way?
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.