Judges, Black Cops and Sub-humanity

Police Officer Omar Edwards and Son

Both the nomination of the first Latina Supreme Court Justice
and the murder of a plain clothes, Black police officer Omar J. Edwards by a
white police officer, Andrew Dutton, occurred
last week.


The media’s response to both of these events has reaffirmed the
way in which men and women, who are not white,
are often
classified as subhuman.

If they are not overtly classified as such, the ways in which
they are
treated certainly indicated that they are.

Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Lovelle Mixon. Amado Diallo. Abner Louima.

When I learned that a white officer killed a black officer I was
curious as to whether the NYPD would drastically reform
the
ways in which new officers are trained.

Then I saw that both Al Sharpton and the 100 Black Men in Law
enforcement
were calling for an independent investigation
and I thought, maybe.

I know, that the white police officers see each other as human,
they are taught and socialized to.

As I said in May in my Camus and Torture post, it is much easier
to kill a “nigger” than it is to kill a Black person, a “chink” than a
Chinese person,
a “kike” than a Jewish person, a “wetback”
than a Mexican person, a “bitch” than
a Black woman.

Classification is powerful.The law traffic’s in classification’s.
Being reclassified in the eyes of the law can entail being
guaranteed certain legal protections.

Thinking about classifications, humanity and the police,
I began to wonder, that perhaps it would take a white officers
being
murdered by other white officers in order for police
training procedures
to be amended.

When I saw that the news was reporting the event as friendly fire
it became clear that a white office could have killed
another
white officer that night, and the police training and protocol

would not be changed. It became clear that white non white,
human
sub human dichotomy was so pervasive in our
society, as it pertains
to law enforcement, that the killing of white
officers would not trigger
a change in police protocol, training
and procedures.

It became clear that there is so much invested in maintaining
a racist
human/subhuman classification, that the hierarchy of power within
police departments
would arguably sit back and allow other white
police offers to kill each other, before they would voluntarily change
how and when they shoot perceived criminals.

The New York Daily News reports,

An off-duty rookie cop chasing a suspected car thief in East Harlem with his gun drawn was shot and killed Thursday night when an officer mistook him for a criminal.

“Police! Stop! Drop it!” cops from the 25th Precinct shouted at Omar Edwards, 25.

As he started to turn toward him – the gun still in his hand – an officer opened fire, sources said.

The officer involved in the shooting is white, Edwards is black and had no visible NYPD identification on him, sources said. It was unclear if Edwards identified himself.

“This is always a black cop’s fear, that he’d be mistaken for a [suspect],” a source said.

His father couldn’t fathom how such a fatal mistake could happen.

“If a police officer sees someone with a gun, you don’t just fire without asking questions or trying to apprehend the person,” said Ricardo Edwards, 72. “If the person was firing at a police officer, I understand.”

Ricardo Edward’s words haunt me.

Back to Sotomayor. When I learned that Sotomayor’s credentials
were being questioned, I was not surprised.

This blog is called Model Minority for a reason.

Based on their comments, in the eyes of many vocal Republican’s,
Sotomayor’s accomplishments
are irrelevant, because what is
lurking beneath the thin veneer of
their words is that Latina women
are not human, thus their accomplishments will never approach
those of a similarly credentialed white man.

This is the party of inclusion and progress, no?

I will never forget a joke that an old friend, a Black man from
South Carolina once told me. What do you call a Black man
with a Ph.D? A “Nigga.


When I heard the Republican’s attacks on Sotomayor, I thought of
this joke because it goes to the fact that for very long, in the United States,
the ability to be a human was solely the domain of white men.

At Racism Review, Adia Harvey, goes into more detail about
the history
of American racism and the role that Sotomayor may
play on the court. Harvey writes,

What makes Sotomayor?s nomination especially relevant right now is that Chief Justice Roberts has issued some of his most telling decisions and statements on cases related to racial discrimination and civil rights . Despite his clear intelligence and stellar academic credentials, Roberts is woefully uneducated when it comes to the realities of racial oppression in this nation. Operating from the color blind racist perspective, Roberts is apparently of the opinion that any focus on race?even with the intent of diversifying, correcting ongoing racial inequalities, or addressing systemic racial imbalances?is in and of itself racist. This willful refusal to recognize that racism is built into the very core of the political, economic, and social foundations of this nation, has always worked to disadvantage people of color, and will continue to do so if left unchecked, is an egregious blind spot on the part of our Chief Justice. So too is his inability to distinguish between taking race into consideration when trying to make a school system diverse (in compliance with Brown v. Board) and focusing on race in efforts to create and maintain segregated, unequal social systems.

As the first person in my family to attend college, as a one time
law student
and as someone who is preparing to enter a
doctoral program in the fall,
I have been called “articulate”
by more than one school administrator.

My credentials have been questioned and patronized and as soon
as I open my mouth “people” want to know where my parents
“went to school.”

But I ain’t trippin’. In fact, I get it. I wasn’t suppose to make it
this far. Word to Combahee Survival. In those moments,
what
I remember is that I am of spirit (at least I am when I am at my best),
I am not of flesh, and I will make it
as far as God would have me to,
one day at a time.

I was fascinated by the way in which the Republican critique of Sonia
Sotomayor
dominated her news coverage.

I was interested in what kind of lawyer she was, what kind of judge
she was. I wanted to know her positions on labor, abortion, civil rights,
gay marriage,
environmental justice and lastly where she stood on
a customers ability to sue a company for faulty
products (pace makers, cars, etc.)

Yes, Sonia Sotomayor, has, presumably, female reproductive organs and
cafe au lait brown skin.

However, I remember Clarence Thomas and I wanted to know
more about how she was and how she is perceived by her peers.

As I finish writing this piece I reminded of two things that inspired
me to write it in the first place. The first is the mainstream media’s
complete unwillingness to consider the way that race
may have
played a role in Police Officer Edwards shooting. The second is
the mainstream media’s complete and utter focus on what a
few grumpy Republicans were saying about Sonia Sotomayor.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of all of this is that
we can finally stop talking about “post racial’ America get on
with the nitty gritty of having a discussion about what we
want Obama America to look, feel and sound like.

More Reading
Lanny Davis Judge Sotomayor: A Great Judge and Strict Constructionist
Sotomayor and the Last of the Wasps
-Right Wing Hate Machine Launches Vicious Campaign of
Racist and Sexist Attacks on Sotomayor
-Sotomayor’s Problem isn’t that She is Too Latina
-Anita Hill Speaks on Sotomayor

What do you think would have to happen to get the police to
change
their protocol and procedures?

Doesn’t this entire conversation make the words post racial
sound like spiritual cowardice?

What do you think of the human/subhuman classification?
Do you agree, why or why not?

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Comments

  1. K1NG says

    Dear M.dot,

    In my mind, even though we've never met, you KNOW me pretty well. You say i'm good $$ and i return the sentiment.. I really think you're awesome as a person and a writer..

    I get really confused when i read most of your articles though, because i feel like you think that everyone that looks like me is the same. I am a white man, but i do not participate in the thoughts and opinions that you tack onto white men.. You say that white men classify minorities as a certain way, which i don't completely disagree with, because some of them do, but at the same time you speak about white men as if we are not individuals.. Like we're some kind of conglomerate that gets together and talks every week about what we should think collectively or something.. We are individuals too and not ALL of us are bigots.. Especially my generation..

    In fact, i have had multiple different friends from different races tell me that i am the only white boy they trust at all.. Which you would think would make me happy, but it really makes me sad because that means that they viewed me as a threat in the beginning of our friendship.. It's like there is a stigmatism attached to me because of how people in the past that looked like me behaved..

    I don't know quite how to end this comment, i just kinda wanted to discuss it with you because this issue has affected my real life relationships for years..

  2. Dylan Digits says

    The implications of the human/subhuman idea in conflict and the issue of an individual versus a member of a classified group reminds me of when I started getting bothered (and sometimes jumped) by guys in my neighborhood at night– this is back in high school. These were all people I knew from classes so I could name them all, and I made a point of being known and connecting with people from every group and crew in school even if I wasn't going to be their friend.

    So when I was jumped, I could call each of them by name and ask what they were doing. When they had to pause and think I wasn't some kid who was a target; I was "Dylan" and a person they knew they'd have to see in school the next day. That connection never brought me an apology, but it almost always kept my ass from being kicked.

    And so when I hear reports of triggers pulled too quickly I always think, "If only there was that moment to say 'You know me!'" And how because there isn't that moment, it's on the person with the upper hand– be it gun, fist, or any weapon– to provide that moment. To be taught and learn how to give it. So here's hoping the NYPD will consider the importance of that moment, and ask themselves if they know their neighbors well enough to use it.

  3. the prisoner's wife says

    hmm, this is a hard one. the cop shooting. yes, Mr. Edwards was a cop, but according to reports, there was no way the other officer would have known he was a cop. procedurally, there was a mess-up. the department should have a procedure for identifying plain-clothes cops. because cops tend to shoot first & ask questions later, especially when a gun (or a brown face) is involved, there should be better a procedure in place to keep plain-clothes cops safe. will that happen? who know. i'm not sure it's because of a human/subhuman dynaic, so much. i think it's more of a survival instinct. i try to put myself in a cop's shoes. you're a target & people will try to stop you from apprehending them, so they are looking out for their own life. so it could go both ways.

  4. Model Minority says

    @K1NG

    Wow. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing.
    I appreciate your honesty.

    You say that white men classify minorities as a certain way, which i don't completely disagree with, because some of them do, but at the same time you speak about white men as if we are not individuals.
    =====
    The realness. I was clear in this piece that I was analyzing Popo and the system in which they operate, I don't recall talking about all white men.

    I was cautious when I publish this piece, in that I asked my homie Birk to proof it, because I WAS concerned with it having a biased tone. I know I have Black, White, Latina, Mormon, Asian readers.
    Asian jawns on twitter stay on me leaving them out of my Black and White racial tweets, lols.

    I hear you, you are talking about the individual.

    I am talking about the system.

    I get really confused when i read most of your articles though, because i feel like you think that everyone that looks like me is the same
    ====
    You know what I am going to say right, based on what? <<<—People hate when I say this shit, but it forces us to have a conversation based on evidence, not speculation.

    In fact, i have had multiple different friends from different races tell me that i am the only white boy they trust at all.. Which you would think would make me happy, but it really makes me sad because that means that they viewed me as a threat in the beginning of our friendship.. It's like there is a stigmatism attached to me because of how people in the past that looked like me behaved..
    ====
    Now blood. Peep game. I am going to struggle with you for a minute on this one. At the beginning of your comment, you said that I was classifying White dudes as one big assed group, right? Now you are saying that based on your personal experiences with other Black and brown folks, that you ARE the exception to the rule.

    Perhaps the issue isn't that I what i am writing is biased, perhaps what I am writing confirms your experience thus far and that shit hurts because it is true. Fucked up and true.

    One of the nicest things a dude from the town say to a woman is that she is a "cool assed female." So I feel you on being called a cool assed white dude.

    I look forward to your response.

    These conversations are one of the reasons why I write.

    -R

  5. Model Minority says

    Dylan,

    Holy shit. Thank you for your comment and honesty.
    It is type awesome. You caught me off guard a bit actually.

    When they had to pause and think I wasn't some kid who was a target; I was "Dylan" and a person they knew they'd have to see in school the next day. That connection never brought me an apology, but it almost always kept my ass from being kicked.
    ====
    Talk about being reclassified.

    One of the most awesomeness parts of leaving public school in East Oakland and going to prep school in Frisco was no longer having to worry about being jumped on the way to school and the fact that we had NEW BOOKS every semester.

  6. Model Minority says

    because cops tend to shoot first & ask questions later, especially when a gun (or a brown face) is involved, there should be better a procedure in place to keep plain-clothes cops safe.
    ========
    Thats precisely my point.

    This isn't a necessary presumption. This policy can change. Popo in London don't have guns.
    If their shoot first and ask questions latter procedure that I thought THEY may reconsider if one of their own, Black or white, was murdered.

    Don't get it twisted. I have no beef w/ po po per se. They scandalous (Sean Bell…etc), however I see the humanity in Popo, D-boys and Thomas Jefferson. But peep. This is what living out side of the human-subhuman dichotomy entails. Can't grant it to one group and not another.

  7. K1NG says

    I can't give you a sentence that explicitly states that feeling, i am only telling you how i feel when i finish digesting the WHOLE piece..

    "Perhaps the issue isn't what i am writing is biased, perhaps what i am writing confirms your experience thus far and that shit hurts because it is true. Fucked up and true."

    Are you saying that black people being uneasy of white people is true?

    or

    are you saying that the majority of white people being racist is true?

  8. Model Minority says

    Okay,

    I feel you on feelings.

    Couple of rules I try and live by. One, must feel their feelings, because at the end of the day, sometimes it is all that they have.

    Two. I am not responsible for another persons feelings. Feelings are a gift from God.

    Are you saying that black people being uneasy of white people is true?
    =====
    I certaintly hope that I wouldn' need to validate that. Based on your experience you have already validated that.

    Are you saying that the majority of white people being racist is true.
    ===============

    Are you trying to Sotomayor me dude? Lols.

    For instance, I critique white supremacy in American culture, which means that it I talk about not only the white folks, but the blacks, asians and latino's who work to uphold, maintain, and mainly benefit from system.

    Understand that there is a difference between critiquing a system and saying that most of people are _________.

    I am lightweight offended that you would ask me that question. Not because it is being asked, that makes sense. But that it is coming from you.

    What part of the game is that?

    If what I write makes you feel uncomfortable, that's cool, thats part of my job as a writer.
    Dyson's job is to make you feel comfortable.

  9. chacedollars says

    I'm from Providence RI where Cornel Young was shot and killed by an officer while he was in plain clothes. I worked with his mother after his death, so I have seen the effects first hand.

    Where in the country has there been a white officer murdered by another white officer while in plain clothes?

    When has a white officer murdered another white person who was non threatening…i.e. holding a wallet

    While the idea that all people hold different views one thing that i believe is that there is a national group think. A national conversation that may not be above board…not had openly. But quietly people believe that they are superior…

    My ace who I love dearly looks down on people…Unknowingly but does it none the less. Is she racist. No. Is she apart of a c9onversation much larger than her that let's her know that her life is worth more than mine by skin alone.

    Few joints.

    -C

  10. Model Minority says

    While the idea that all people hold different views one thing that i believe is that there is a national group think. A national conversation that may not be above board…not had openly. But quietly people believe that they are superior…
    ====
    Aye blood, what is racism if it ain't thinking you better than an entire group of people?
    What conversations does a person have with themselves if they THINK they are better than others? How does that impact ones interactions with member of said "worse than" group? Im saying? Not yelling, just curious.

    I stopped fucking w/ a homie, a Black woman, in high school cuz she CHOSE to be friends w/ and date people who lived in the projects in Frisco.

    Her momma owned a modest townhouse in Filmore.

    Like she couldn't rock wichu unless she was better than you.

    She didn't know me and my momma was on public assistance at the time.

    Oh, white popo rarely if ever kill each other.

    Anyone heard of such an instance? Please post a laink.

    I would wager that it is because when they see a plainclothes person, they see a human being, and not a criminal.

  11. /\Alligator Legs/\ says

    Re: @the prisoner's wife, this is by no means the first time this has happened (see: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/a-troubling-history-of-officers-firing-on-colleague/). NYPD does in fact have procedures for identifying plainsclothes cops, though they don't train their units regularly enough in them. I'm still not clear on whether Edwards was in violation of those procedures or not, however I always believe racial prejudices are at the heart of why any of us does anything to anyone for any reason, and it's no different here.