Systemic racism and police brutality against those with Black and brown skin

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By Noelle Palmer

I have been hesitant to talk about my son through all of this. I did not want to use his blackness as a platform. Being an adoptive mother of a black son, does NOT give me any first-hand knowledge or experience of what it is like to live in black skin. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.

Even when we had our encounters with racism I had the power of my white privilege to stand up for my rights. I do have a second-hand knowledge (so to speak), as a witness of racial profiling, and the secondary pain of one who loves my son.

However, as I see so much pushback, of those scrambling to continue to blame black people for their encounters with law enforcement, I wanted to share a couple of stories, with the hope that scales can be lifted.

My family moved to a new home, after my husband was relocated. We purchased a home that had been empty for about 6 months. We arrived the day before the moving truck, to prep the home. I was inside painting and my 14-year-old son was raking the leaves in the front yard. Within the FIRST HOUR of my son out front, I hear the sound of cars racing down the street. I go outside to find THREE squad cars parked in my driveway and police rushing out of the car. I had no fear of the police, as why would I? And I walk right up to them to inquire what is going on. I could clearly see, the moment they saw me, I saw in their faces and change demeanor, instant calm. They explained that somebody called to report that there was “somebody” at this house who are not supposed to be there. All I had to do was say, we I was the new owner and they took my word for it and left.

So many questions: Why did that person who called ASSUME that a 14-year-old child raking leaves was up to no good, breaking some kind of crime that merited calling the police? Why THREE squad cars in response to a 14-year-old kid raking leaves? Why did my presence instantly calm them? Why did they simply take my word that I was the new home owner without asking me for proof? I will leave those deductions for others to derive.

Another day, while driving on an open road, I sped up to pass a car. In the process of doing so, I was driving over the speed limit. Perfect place, perfect time, passed right by the police. I get pulled over for breaking the law. I BROKE THE LAW! It took unusually long for the officers to get out of the car, and I could see them talking to each other. Each got out, slowly approached my car, with their hands on their guns. That had never happened to me before, so I thought it strange.

As the officer cautiously approached my window, I already had my license out and was holding it to the window. She didn’t take it. Instead, she was looking at my passenger, my 15-year-old passenger. She asked me, “Are YOU okay Mam?” She stared at him with a look I had never seen in an officer before…it was like she was afraid. Again, I gestured for her to take my license. She asked me for my passenger’s drivers license. I said clearly stated, he is only 15 and does not have a license. She then asked for his school ID, and I said it was a Sunday and he does not have it with him. I explained, “he is my son.”

She then requested his Social Security number.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have protested in that instant. But I was so confused, I was not used to this kind of police interaction. I provided his SS number. The two officers proceeded to go back to the car. 45 MINUTES we sat there, waiting, while they ran their background checks. Checking NOT on me, but rather on my son. This became clear when they provided me information about my son when returning to the car. I stated, “I would like to get out of my car, to speak with you.” Hand shot right back on her gun, again asking, “Are you okay Mam?” I said I was fine, but would like to step out of the car and speak to them. They allowed me, and again I was able to use my whiteness as privilege and power to confront them on this racial profiling, with no fear of retaliation.

So many questions. Why was the assumption that I was in danger and in need of help? Why was the focus on a 15-year-old child, when I was the one who broke the law?
These are only 2 events, of the many, where my son was under scrutiny, for no reason, other than the color of his skin. My son was considered a threat, or assumed that he was doing wrong, based on the color of his skin.

My skin “vouched” for him. My skin “made him okay.” My skin had the power to push back against racial profiling and inequality. My skin.

In all my interactions with law enforcement, I have been able to reason with, and I have been listened to. My word and report have been considered and accepted. Even in instances related to my work in crisis situations, I have been able to use my power (skin color) to push back when I feel the officers were not handling the situation appropriately….and they have backed down.

For the first 40 years of my life, I had NO experiences even remotely resembling those of what our brothers and sisters with black and brown skin spoke about. I have had the benefit of being listened to, so I assumed that there must be something wrong with the way others speak to law enforcement was the problem. I too, had the instinct to react to those stories with disbelief, as I had no personal reference that I could draw to, to make that connection. I too, reacted in all those implicit biases, that it must be because they are breaking the law or doing something to deserve the officer treatment they received. I had my lens. And like many of us, I gauged my lens against the lens of others experiences, and assumed my lens was the correct lens.

Beg my pardon for what I am about to say next. It may come across as brazen and maybe even ruffle some feathers. When it comes to the issue of systemic racism and police brutality against those with black and brown skin…we as a white collective have no grounds to have an opinion that rejects its reality. Just because we have not experienced it, does not mean it is not a reality. And in fact, the fact we have not experienced it…gives further proof to the reality that it is a racial issue. Please my brothers and sisters…rip off those scales, and become a part of the solution. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. This is a true thing, but don’t forget about the William Lynch speech.. we black and brown people are also a part of the problem… some of us try our best to bring each other down and we sometime celebrate when someone fall …WE HAVE TO START TO TREAT EACH OTHER LIKE BROTHERS AND SISTERS🙏🏾..

    • Sometimes it is better to shut up than talk out of turn. What does William Lynch speech has to do with the abuse of black people by law enforcement?

      • I won’t be as rude to tell you shut your mouth… like I said we have to START TREAT OTHER LIKE BROTHERS AND SISTERS.. remember we Teach people how to treat us .. THINK! THINK! THINK!

      • And her main point was about Systemic racism . and my point is that we have to make changes towards the way we treAt each other.. there’s no need to get upset and be rude … that was what the William Lynch speech was about he told the slave owners not to worry because we would fight each other once they followed his program .. blessings 🤛🏽

  2. Appreciate her concern, but I can’t say that those two examples were particularly conclusive. In the first case, why does she assume that the police were called about her son in the yard? Maybe they were called about people including her being there in general unexpectedly. The police might have relaxed because she is female and thus less likely to be there illegally. They are probably more afraid of males in general. The neighbour was out of order to be so nosy but it doesn’t prove racism by the police.
    In the second case, the police saw two people of different races in a car together. He was in the back seat. They were afraid of a possible abduction because it was not immediately obvious to them that the two were family. As police, they are always looking out for crimes. So, I wouldn’t say it was automatic racism on their part, just unexpected from their point of view.
    I sympathize with persons who have been unfairly treated based on race, but the reality is that until inner city crime is cleaned up, and those communities “gentrified”, there will always be some people who stereotype and feel more suspicious about black Americans.

    • You should ask yourself who is committing crimes in the inner city and why. People who are gainfully employed have no time to commit crimes except of course what we term white collar crime.
      I would also like to ask you a question. If it were a white youth cutting the lawn, would people assume he didn’t belong there?
      If her passenger were white, would the police assume she was in danger?
      The problem is white skin comes with certain assumed privileges
      and superiority complex and some police officers are from this class. You will never know what it is like being black in a predominantly white country unless you are black.

      • @Think about it. I don’t know what the boy looked like in terms of dress or how he behaved to know whether race alone was the reason for suspicion. No disrespect to the mum I’m sure he’s wonderful but sometimes how we present makes a difference in how we are treated. I’ve been treated as both a regular customer and a suspicious customer both here and abroad, both by whites and by blacks based on my appearance. If I run out to the store in some old clothes because all my other clothes are in the wash even black sales attendants here in Antigua start following me around like I’m a criminal. If I dress well, I’m treated like a valued customer. So, I can’t say that race is the only factor.

        • Yes he should have put on his Sunday best to cut the lawn. The police could see through the car that he was dressed in rags. Please make sense.

    • @Another Perspective, you are trying to justify what the racist cops did as not being racist. That tells me you are a racist yourself. Where in the article did it state that the boy was in the back seat? And why does inner-cities have to be gentrified for you racist shits stains to stop being RACIST. The only reason the police were called is because the neighbor saw a black boy, in a mostly or all white neighborhood. And it will continue because RACIST like you will always defend RACISM. DIRT NAP M-FER!

      • @There is no Other Perspective. I don’t know why the neighbour called the police. Was the place vacant for ages and he/she believed that squatters had moved in? The article doesn’t state in detail what report was made. Or, perhaps the neighbour was actually racist and tried to cause trouble upon seeing a black male – that does not prove that the police themselves were racist. They were just responding to a call. They probably assumed that the caller knew what they were talking about. They asked questions then left.
        I’m black. I have black neighbours of all types – rich, poor, trouble makers, law abiding. When my neighbours are away I look closely if I see strangers in their yard. Sometimes it’s just a couple of innocent teenage friends of one of the kids dropping by. There have also been the occasional “bad” teenagers dropping by to cuss and fight over something. Police have been called by residents. On rare occasions over the years there have been break ins. Whenever a certain boy is in anyone’s yard, I look extra closely. Ironically, at times when there are white people in the neighbourhood, I tell my kid to stay away (because of human trafficking concerns). When in North America, I stayed clear of suspicious looking males of any race in certain neighbourhoods. All of that involves profiling people based on appearances to avoid danger. Unfortunately, many black males in the U.S. dress in gangsterwear for fun, listen to songs about killing, have a T.V. network (B.E.T.) that glorifies the gangster lifestyle etc. I once even met an African young man, son of a diplomat, who joined a gang in North America because it looked “cool” on T.V. He realized he was wasting his time then turned his life around. Even a cousin of mine in little Antigua once tried the local gangster lifestyle after influence from gangster movies. So, it is not unusual for American blacks to be perceived as possible gangsters around the world because of the media. Black males in Canada and Europe are not profiled quite as much because they don’t dress that way, etc. I don’t know what the male in this story dresses like. I don’t know exactly what was reported. I don’t know what kind of neighbourhood it was in terms of recent crimes. I can’t honestly jump on the bandwagon and assume that every police officer is a racist without knowing what they were thinking. Even if they were afraid of “black people”, I can’t honestly say that there is no reason to ever be since black gangster life is glorified in U.S. media. I am not interested in playing the victim without more information.

        • Yes, there have been instances of police racism and brutality in the U.S., but if we black people always rush to assume the worst about police officers even to the point of defending criminals without enough information, then others will assume that we all support and make excuses for criminal behaviour just because the criminal is black. And, that will actually just lead to even more unjust profiling of all of us, both the innocent and the guilty.

      • By gentrified I just meant that even if you are poor, that does not mean you have to become a criminal. I would personally respect a hard working poor man who struggles to provide the basics for his family more than a rich criminal with name brand clothes and useless gold chains. You can be poor with self respect and dignity. Things will improve over time. No need for criminal get rich quick behaviour that causes turmoil to the community and sets everyone back.

  3. #No #Problem ma’am, white_woman. jesus christ will meet all at heavens gate, once we leave earthland, and only allow ‘black n brown’ HUEMANS, to enter those pearly gates preached about and used to INDOCTRIBATE many of the same ‘black n brown’ people.
    #

    #HEAVEN⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️#WHITE’s ONLY!

    #HELL⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️#BLACK’s ONLY!

    Ras Smood you’re in a good mood!
    Why, you wanna be so crude!
    And, to some you might be considered rude!
    Please make all reports to my Nature parents mother Mami_Wata and father Papa_Elegba!

  4. Clearly, the stop wasn’t for the traffic violation – as noted by the police not taking her license; and the first question was…are you okay ma’am. The stop definitely was because the PIG noticed a Black Male in the car with a white female. Her license wasn’t run, but the child’s social security number was – and he didn’t break the law. But if it’s makes you sleep better, continue to try and convince black people that racial profiling isn’t racism.

  5. The auther of this story is the racist, she adopted a black boy to be seen as not. I can see it in her writings. Sorry, bur fess up!

  6. Could someone,anyone,tell me which is worse.Living in a Racist Country or living in a Classist Country? Please let me know.

  7. My general point is that people profile people based on past experiences, general media influence, statistical probability of a person being likely to do so so so based on news reports, appearances, facial expressions etc. It’s perfectly natural to do so for your own safety, and it’s also really annoying when others misjudge you unfairly. To me, true racism is being denied something important such as a job, food, housing etc. because of your race alone. Expecting the whole world to think that you’re a good person when they’ve just met you is unrealistic. Jesus was perfect and He was still crucified. The police are always on the lookout for criminals. So, I wouldn’t judge them too harshly for every trivial situation. I would more condemn the people who call them for no good reason. Those persons should be charged with filing a false report, causing public mischief or some such thing. In black communities, we should spend more time solving problems than playing the blame game. Sure we can blame the white man for impoverished neighbourhoods leading to crime, but if we spend all our time waiting for them to approve of us and give us a hand up then we will be waiting a very long time. God already approves of us. We don’t need anyone else’s approval. Life is unfair at times. We need to dust our past tragedies off and get on with the business of fixing our broken communities.

    • So, I’m not convinced that profiling, even racially, is always racist. If black Americans are often assumed to be criminals that speaks to deeper issues of poverty and crime that need to be permanently fixed. Trying to force people to not think “possible criminal” when they see a black person after seeing violent black criminals regularly in the news, and glamorised in music and movies might be unrealistic. I have seen black people treated well in other predominantly white countries, and I strongly believe that U.S. media plays a role how black people are perceived there. Imho black Americans should try to change their image in the media by spotlighting those who live normal lives more often than they spotlight the criminals. They should also try to help the next generation of children avoid a life of crime by investing heavily in afterschool programnes in poor communities to keep children off the streets, and instead engaged in interesting hobbies, skill enhancement etc. That’s my two cents.

      • @Another Perspective: No one gives a phuck what you are convinced of whitey. You’re just another cracka that thinks you are entitled to tell blacks how they should dress, act and live in order to not be profiled – when the fact is, black judges, lawyers, drs etc. in their suits and ties are profiled just like “gang looking dressed individual.” In America, it’s the BLACK SKIN that is associated with criminality by you whiteys. Even Amanda Gorman was stopped in HER white neighborhood — I know for sure she wasn’t dressed like a gang member. And there are countless other examples of black people that doesn’t fit the profile of some criminal but are still stopped and questioned, sometimes even killed because of whiteys preconceived notion about black people. Stop trying to gaslight black people, whitey — your covert racism is showing!!

    • No one called the cop when the car was stopped —
      and the traffic infraction was not addressed. The cop only wanted information on the passenger who just happened to be a black male. Twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to excuse the racial profiling only shows you’re a RACIST yourself.

  8. You’re missing my point. One last time… Because black people in the U.S. in general often live in impoverished crime ridden neighbourhoods and glorify criminal lifestyles via media entertainment, even innocent black people will be profiled because of the resulting natural association in people’s mind between black people and criminality. The idea might enter the mind regardless of what the person is wearing at the time, but it might be stronger if the person dresses a certain way. People might not always be maliciously racist when their minds make that association. Clearly complaining, demonstrating and writing articles has not changed that association in people’s minds. The only way to change it, I believe, is to consistently demonstrate a less criminal black culture. Or, you can just ignore any ideas on the topic other than what the media says, wear what you want, do what you want and keep on complaining, hoping that will change natural human psychology.

    • I just find it really hard to believe that the police would send three squad cars if they weren’t told something serious. So, I would more blame the neighbour in that instance for jumping to conclusions. It seemed like in both instances the police genuinely believed that something was wrong. If they ignored the speeding and kept asking if she was alright maybe she was driving like a maniac why they assumed she was in trouble. If so many police officers would really routinely go out of their way to harass innocent black people to those extremes just for fun then white Americans would have to be pretty crazy in general. It’s hard to believe that so many people would be so dedicated to harassment in this day and age, which is why I tend to believe that it’s more likely to be unconscious non-malicious bias in general that can’t be fixed by complaining alone.

    • Black people arent the ones that needs to change, it is you and your racist kind that does.

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