The Post-Racial America (That We Don’t Live In)

Well, I woke up this morning, flipped on my laptop, and had this image waiting there to greet me.

Django Unchained Actress Accosted by LAPD After Kissing White Husband

For ****’s sake, people.

Alright, lets get to it.

I. This is Seriously Messed Up

…But you already knew that. Had Daniele Watts been white, would she have been detained? Almost certainly not. But Miss Watts is black and her husband is white. And these two rocket-scientists from the LAPD see her kiss her husband and assume one of two things:

  1. The most likely reason for this black woman to kiss this white man is that she’s a prostitute and he’s a client.
  2. There is a mere possibility that those two are a prostitute and a john. It’s not the most likely scenario, but everyone’s guilty until proven innocent, so **** ’em.

It’s beyond despicable one way or another. Miss Watts was placed in handcuffs. What possible ****ing justification could there have been for that? Was she attacking these cops? Attempting to flee? Photos show Miss Watts sitting there while being interrogated, eventually bursting into tears. Her husband, incidentally, was not handcuffed after having shown the officers his IDwhich you are not required by law to do.

Now granted, I wasn’t there. I can’t speak to the events leading up to the event, though speaking for myself, I’m probably not going to try to throw someone in cuffs in the back of my car for kissing someone outside of her race.

“But Gordon, you machete of wit hacking away at the jungle of ignorance, these cops thought- or claim to have thought- that they were interrupting an act of prostitution! You can’t blame them for that.”

The hell I can’t.

Exactly what evidence was produced here? Did the cops see an exchange of money? A statement in which one party agreed to exchange sex for goods and/or services?

No, they saw one black woman in shorts kiss a white guy in a hoodie and they thought “Hey, that’s not right!”

Both of ’em, apparently. Again, I wasn’t there, but if my partner told me that we should handcuff that one random person for not looking right, I’d like to think my reaction would be something like this:

But as heinous as this has been…

II. Maybe Some Good Will Come Of It

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not holding out hope here. This story, as unpleasant as it is, probably isn’t as gory or offensive as it needs to be to get (seriously) picked up by the mainstream news. Still, I’m holding out that this can be used to really drive home the issue of racial disparity in this country, because after all this time, there are still plenty of folks out there who just don’t. get. it.

Allow me to offer as example the comments made by FOX pundit Sean Hannity, regarding police brutality and the shooting of Michael Brown:

“By the way, I don’t know how you are when you get pulled over by a cop. I know how I am all the times I did. […] When a cop pulls me over, I put my hands outside of the car. If I’m carrying a weapon, which I’m licensed to carry in New York, the first thing I tell the police officer is, ‘Officer, I want you to know I have a legal firearm in the car.’ First thing I say to the officer. He’ll ask, ‘Where is it?’ I’ll say, ‘It’s in my holster.’ And he says, ‘Alright, just keep your hands outside.’ That’s usually the protocol. And then ‘Can I have your license and registration, please? Move slowly.’ And I often would even step out of the car, lift my shirt up so he can see where the gun is. ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir,’ writes me a ticket.’ Thank you, sir,’ and that’s it. You battle the issue in court.”

This is perfect evidence of just how foreign the concept of bigotry is to some folks. Let me break things down by addressing the speaker directly.

Dear Mr. Hannity, you stupid ****.

Do you think people of color aren’t doing these things? A black man getting pulled over can put his hands out the window and still get shot. He can tell the cop he’s got a legal firearm in the car and still get shot. He can give his license and registration and still get shot. He can move slowly and still get shot. He can step out of the car and still get shot. If he lifts his shirt and shows the cop a gun, he probably will get shot. Go to court and it has been statistically proven that a black man will be given a harsher sentence than his white counterpart.

That’s how racism works, moron. It’s not ****ing rational. We have video after video after video of black men and women doing all the right things and still getting harassed and abused, all with the unifying factor that they’re black.

That’s the nature of modern day racism. Just because there aren’t signs over drinking fountains reading “Whites Only” doesn’t mean that many of the practices are gone. Just as people of color are more likely to be harassed by police officers or given harsher prison sentences, studies have found that they’re also more likely to be denied a business loan, “even when all other variables — their credentials, their companies, even their clothes — are identical.”

Racial discrimination is not dead.

Hopefully this latest travesty will help some folks get that through their heads.

III. What You Don’t Know (Can Hurt Others)

While (to my knowledge) the LAPD hasn’t offered any comment regarding its harassment of Miss Watts (as there wasn’t actually any arrest), I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that neither of those officers imagine themselves to be a racist. Heck, with the way we’ve celebrated (and substantially whitewashed) the civil rights movement, “racist” is one of the most devastating things to be labeled in today’s society (go look up “Social Desirability Bias”). As vile as the term has become, the practice is still pretty widespread, even if we’ll never admit it.

All these folks would, if you were to push them on the subject, probably claim not to be racists. And yeah, I genuinely believe that they think they aren’t. This isn’t to make some lofty claim about tolerance or to guilt anyone- it’ just to show how deeply this runs, how far we actually are from post-racial society we supposedly enjoy.

Reader, I don’t know you. You might be white. You might be black. You might be Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or any combination thereof. You might be a tacit racist or you might be the most fair-minded person to have ever walked the earth. Again, I’m not hear to accuse anyone (other than the LAPD), but what I am going to ask is that you be mindful. For all our rhetoric, for all our pictures of rainbows and sunshine and everyone holding hands, we still live in very different worlds.

But hey, admitting we have a problem is the first step in fixing it, right?

One response to “The Post-Racial America (That We Don’t Live In)

  1. The picture of her crying is so tragic because I can imagine the fear and confusion of how this situation became so insane so quickly! How dare they handcuff her! I hope that she sues them and makes a HUGE stink about it.

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