Let’s talk about the policing of black bodies, shall we?
Late last night, a Tulsa jury found officer Betty Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in the killing of Terence Crutcher. You can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten the case; so many others have been killed by agents of the state since then. Anyway…according to reports the jury had asked if they could make a statement before giving the verdict and that members of the jury were crying as the verdict was read. I know that is supposed to elicit some kind of emotion out of me, but it doesn’t.
For there was video of this killing. We can see that Terence Crutcher had his hands up the entire time of the interaction. But that didn’t matter because Betty Shelby said she had “never been so scared in her life” as she was with a black man who was moving away from her. As has happened in every high profile killing of an unarmed black man by agents of the state, Terence Crutcher was portrayed as a “big, scary black man”. And, in the American psyche, all black men are threats to white women. So Terence Crutcher is dead because America must protect white women, at all cost.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve posted stories over the last few days reporting on the disciplining of young black and multiracial girls for having hair styles that “violated” school dress code policy.
I. Can’t. Even.
The fascination with, politics and policing of, black women’s hair deserves someone better than me to write about it as a subject. But I’m going to say a couple of things.
Telling young black and multiracial girls that their natural hair or having their hair put into braids is a violation of a code is a violation of these girls humanity. It is telling them that their natural hair is somehow bad. And, by extension, they are somehow bad.
This also is a symptom of the over-policing of black children in schools. Black girls are the most over-sanctioned demographic in this nation’s schools. And research shows that black children (and brown children too) are punished more harshly for violations of policy than white children.
And there’s news today that a child of color with special needs was handcuffed and tasered in his classroom in Dallas.
I know that the machinations in Washington, D.C. suck up all the air in the room most days. But I think it’s important to point out that the state has been going wild on certain populations for generations.
There’s work to do, friends. There’s work to do.