In soccer (football to the rest of the world), the worst thing to happen is an “own goal” where you score on yourself. That, perversely, is what institutional racism just did – is still doing – to Tyre Nichols. Nothing will bring that unfortunate young man back to life or to his family. But, in murdering Tyre, institutional racism exposed itself in a way it never had before. Make no mistake: though the five men who murdered Tyre were all Black police officers, every single one of them was answering racism’s call. They are “policing” in America. Also important: did you catch how quickly their own PD turned on them?
There was zero hemming and hawing. No attempts to justify what these five criminals themselves justified on video in real time while they beat Tyre.
The fact that these five cops – knowing they were all recording the event – still beat Tyre with such impunity? In the abstract, it’s mind-boggling. But, in the context of racism? It’s much of a muchness.
What on earth compelled five Black police officers to single out another Black man for that kind of brutality? It sucks, but, in their way, each of those Black cops was being racist. What really sucks? It wasn’t even their racism! It was white America’s racism – and they were doing white racism’s dirty work.
There are around eighteen hundred police departments in America. Not all of them are cesspits of racism. The ones that aren’t have approached policing from outside the policing box. Good thing, too. Policing in America is a subset of slavery. It began as “slave patrols” and really hasn’t evolved all that much since. It wears nicer uniforms now, has better wheels and, thanks to its union’s outsized punching power, always has a seat at the table. But, it’s still just a bunch of lowlife racists, hounds running ahead of them, torches and ropes in hand.
Since 2015 – according to the Washington Post – there have been 8,166 fatal police shootings! In the past twelve months alone, PD’s around America have killed 1,110 people. What are these PD’s protecting and serving? The answer: racism.
From the WaPo: “Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population and are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.”
The fact that there even is a “police culture’ should give us pause. People with a culture see themselves as different from the rest of us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, when that culture is deeply racist and rooted in the worst parts of our past? No good can come of this and no good has.
Justice, so far, has moved swiftly. That’s a great thing. Too bad it comes twinned with a terrible thing: it moved swiftly because the cops being charged are Black. No white people got in the way.
It’s but a matter of time before another white cop does what these five Black cops just did and kills a person of color because “policing”. Then the institutional racism won’t be able to hide itself. When the white command structure suddenly steps forward like a blue wall to “Hey, wait a minute…!” justice? I hope – no, I expect – the reaction to be uniform in pointing to this moment in time.
Institutional racism’s “own goal”.