After my blog post on Friday about the situation in Baltimore, suggesting that it was a bad idea for Freddie Gray to run away from the cops, Nevada Democrat Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford responded on Facebook…
“Have you ever been profiled? I have. Maybe, Freddie was afraid OF the police, and maybe that’s why he ran. Maybe he’s used to experiences and stories of neighborhood police abusing young black men for no good reason – which is what happened to Freddie, it appears. Maybe he’s used to TV reports of police getting away with hurting and killing young, innocent black men, which some certainly believe is the case.
“Maybe he ran because he simply just didn’t want to be the next statistic … the next casualty. Maybe, just maybe, he ran not because he was doing something wrong, but because he was actually AFRAID OF THE POLICE!
I don’t know Sen. Ford well, but I like him. We’ve chatted casually at events a couple of times – he’s got a good sense of humor – and exchanged a few brief emails over the past couple of years.
And from those limited exchanges I’ve found the man to be intelligent, well-educated, thoughtful and…most of all…a good, concerned father.
What’s not to like?
And I accept the fact that as a black man, Sen. Ford has surely had experiences that I, as a white man, don’t share and can’t relate to with regard to interactions with law enforcement officers.
So while I disagree with Sen. Ford’s depiction of the situation in my hometown of Baltimore, his opinion is certainly worthy of consideration and discussion.
However, I would argue that Sen. Ford’s argument is in direct conflict with the thing he seems most troubled by: the practice of profiling.
It’s wrong, Sen. Ford believes, for police officers to assume that a young black man in Baltimore’s inner city might be guilty of something simply because he’s a young black man.
OK, let’s accept that position at face value.
In that case, isn’t it equally wrong for that young black man to assume every police officer is out to do harm to young black men simply because he’s a police officer?
You can’t have it both ways.
And I’ll take this a step further…
If a white man (or especially a woman) is walking down the street and sees up ahead an unknown young black man walking towards him; if that white man then crosses the street he’ll be accused of being a “racist” for “profiling” the young black man.
But what if, borrowing Sen. Ford’s words, the white guy is used to experiences and stories of young black men assaulting and robbing people on the street? What if he’s used to TV reports of young black men hurting and killing innocent people and bystanders.
Does that make him a “racist”?
Remember the “knock-out game” that was all the rage last year?
As explained by Wikipedia…
“The ‘knockout game’ is one of many names given by American news media to assaults in which one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, all for the amusement of the attacker(s) and their accomplice(s).”
If you want to see graphic video of such unprovoked violence perpetrated by young black men against innocent, unsuspecting pedestrians, click here.
Or for a specific example of a young black man sucker punching and knocking out an innocent woman who was six-months pregnant, click here.
So maybe a white man or woman crosses the street because they simply just don’t “want to be the next statistic…the next casualty.”
Maybe, just maybe, they cross the street, not because they’re racists, but because they are actually afraid of the young black man.
You see, this is a two-way street.
I’m perfectly willing to concede that young black men may have rational, understandable fears of police officers based on experiences and news reporting if Sen. Ford will concede that white folks have rational, understandable fears of young black men on the street based on experiences and news reporting.
And that doesn’t make them “racists.”
If we’re going to have a real discussion on race relations in this country, whites need to acknowledge that there are, indeed, some bad cops who give all other cops a bad name…and whites need to call them on it.
By the same token, blacks need to acknowledge that there are young black men whose actions give all other young black men a bad name…and blacks need to call THEM on it.
Indeed, if it’s wrong for police officers to stereotype and profile young black men, it’s equally wrong for young black men to stereotype and profile police officers.
What’s good for the goose must be good for the gander.
Until blacks and whites can agree on that premise, no discussion on race in America is going to go anywhere.
And I’ll surely be called a “racist” for saying so.