Saturday, January 9, 2010
FROM THE SLAVE CATCHER TO THE MODERN DAY POLICE OFFICER.
Many people oftentimes consider Black Americans to automatically hate cops. They say that Black Americans are inherently un-American but yet never seem to produce the reasoning behind why some African Americans tend to have unpopular views about America. This is equivalent to my last post on, “why become a terrorist”. Americans are quick to outcast people who do not agree with the status quo. Let’s be frank, there is a subtext even to the status quo that all parties and non-Black people in America agree with. On certain racial issues, Whites from all political parties will tend to agree. They will more likely than not agree with the notion that all is fair now, that equal opportunity exist notwithstanding the fact that the results are not matching up. Equal opportunity without equal results means no change.
When we began to examine the history of policing as it relates to Blacks, immediately we’re quenched to revisit the southern style of policing, which at best was nothing more than the slave catcher. Everyone knows the duty of the slave catcher. The slave catcher was a sign of oppression and a representative of the establishment that reminded the runaway of that badge of slavery embedded within the fabric of their very person. The slave catcher’s duty was to maintain the most precious profitable property of the south, which were the slaves. When we compare that to the Northern style policing, which most areas throughout the U.S now have, we still see a sign of oppression, humiliation, and manipulation. Blacks were still being subject to harsh and extreme levels of human rights violations. They were still the subject and symbol of the lawbreaker, the native terrorist who must be contained. There were always scares of Blacks possibly revolting and the establishment knew this.
Let’s go over a brief vague history if we may. When we examine the legacy of freedom for the coloreds in America, we must first begin to take notice to the 13th amendment, which gave Blacks their freedom and rights to exist solely as native born Americans. Although it was heavily noted, that government officials did not recognize the 13th Amendment when it came to Blacks, it was still indeed the first major step to granting Blacks full citizenship. Then sadly, to combat the 13th Amendment, the Black Codes were more forcibly enforced, which limited all movement of Blacks, which made it virtually impossible for Blacks to enjoy their newly granted freedom. The orchestration of the first draconian law against Blacks known as “Pigs Law,” which has been nearly cut out of history, came into fruition as well. Pigs Law imprisoned young Black men at highly disproportionate rates just for “stealing domestic animals” (primarily pigs) on the grounds of basic survival. Due to not being able to move about much (Black Codes), Blacks acted under extreme desperateness to seek food. To combat Pigs Law and the Black Codes, the 14th Amendment came into existence, which gave Blacks equal protection under the law. However, even after that Jim Crow was established, which brings us up to the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, which pretty much abolished all possible forms of discrimination, or so we think. Throughout all of these battles, however, it was the police that maintained the order and the discrimination that was bestowed onto Black Americans. Therefore, the unanimous perception that Blacks have on police, is indeed a perception of historical presence and meaning. There is no question of police practices today still mimicking some of the actions that police engaged in during the past, whether that be within the sixties or during slavery. A colleague of mine Christine Bell actually believes that the distain towards police by Blacks may even be somehow genetic, given its historical context. Bell argues that just the mere presence of an officer triggers a negative reaction in the mind of the Black individual. Some scholars within the field of psychology and psychiatry have argued that there is a mental defect that Blacks have in American society when it comes to the power government has over them. (See: Cobbs and Grier, Black Rage)
Blacks are still disproportionately denied of their civil rights. They still continue to fight for equal protection under the law, and just their simple birth right to exist with the color of their skin. Disparities continue to rise at astronomical rates, while police work double time to maintain “order”. It is clear by the number of Blacks imprisoned, that things aren’t much different from when the Pig Laws were in effect. The prevalent practice of racial profiling by police makes it quite clear that the Black Codes are still here. Court cases on malpractice of police involving criminal procedure issues make it quite clear that the passing system in its fullest context still lives on today. The passing system mandated that slaves caught without the proper paper work can be readily whipped; well today Blacks are readily shot dead, while their family receives no justice—where is the difference? All of these policies/laws are written and brainstormed by politicians primarily from the dominant society, and just like back in history, the police are still the defenders of those ideas. Therefore, when people speak on the validity of Blacks having a bad perception against cops, they must first stop and ask why. People shouldn’t be so quick to label the situation something other than what it actually is. Look through the history and ask what good have the police ever done for Blacks in America? Yes it is easy to say they’re just doing their job, however, they too have a conscious, and the right to choose not to engage in such action. The day must come, whereby everyone’s experiences and history will be acknowledged and considered in the overall conversation on policing in America. Until such a day arrives, most Blacks will continue to see the modern police officer as nothing more than a reflection of his forbearers. Thus, the title of this post stands correct!