Sometimes I call the police...
So, in one of the FB groups that I frequent, we were discussing how TRA parents approach the police discussion. Many of them were surprised that they would have to engage in such a conversation. They soon began to realize a whole new world of "Just-us" also known as Justice.
The parents had a lot of questions, and ideas about the police that contradict the experience that many Black people have had with officers. Some of the questions they asked were:
"When I drive through Black communities, I never see any police so I don't feel safe."
"If you are innocent, why do you run?"
"I call the police on kids when they are misbehaving to teach them a lesson."
"So you want special treatment because you are Black?"
When I heard some of these comments I was concerned about the kids who would end up in their homes because I felt the parents would take the side of the officers instead of their children. However, I appreciate being given the opportunity to teach, and here is how I responded:
"Really, when I am in Black communities i feel like I see police everywhere. Did you know that you are more likely to be attacked in your neighborhood because crime typically occurs between people of the same race? What do you fear will happen on your drive?"
"We run to try to escape harm, because we are afraid. A good question is also, why do they shoot (to kill) if I'm not a threat?"
"Why do you feel the need to police the kids in your neighborhood? It seems like an odd use of police resources, unless there is danger present. If you have Black children I'm going to recommend not calling the police as their interaction with the police could become escalated and very dangerous for your child."
"I don't want special treatment, I just want the same level of respect and consideration you might receive. Treatment conducive to a human. "
White people seem to have certain liberties when it comes to dealing with the police. Even though more white people are killed by the police each year, that fact would only make sense based on the ethnic makeup of our country. White people make up about 76% of the population while Black people make up about 13% of the population (according to the last census). Blacks are also killed at twice the rate of whites, and twice as likely not to have a weapon.
So what does the current climate in our country mean for your Black child? When my very tall son goes to play basketball, in the evenings, around the corner, I remind him to bring his high school ID because I need the police to know he's just a kid. I pray that makes a difference. I also remind him to be respectful, and to answer all questions peacefully. I can't help but feel like I am advising him to let someone demean him (if they choose to), but I need him to come home in one piece.