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
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.
–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?