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Why Must I Comply?

July 11, 2016

I don’t want my son to die, so I teach him to comply.

It’s funny, because as Americans, we love to beat our chest and talk about standing up for what’s right. Is it right that White kids can speak out and know their rights while my son is taught to comply?

A byproduct of institutional racism, showing compliance in the face of injustice is something my mother’s generation persevered so that my children and I would no longer have to tolerate it. What does it truly say about our country if we have far too many White people, famous or otherwise, who not only know, but operate within their second and fourth amendment rights while we expect minorities to comply?

Why are we teaching compliance in the face of a broken system especially when it does not assure our safety? I wish I were afforded the American right to teach my children to stand up and fight, but minorities are held to a higher standard. White kids are called rebellious and given probation while minorities are called “thugs” and shot!

I was always taught to cooperate with the police, but while self-preservation techniques taught to us by our parents may work on paper how does it help us when a cop, who is also human, has made a decision to make an example of you regardless of how you behave?

I once had a car go flying past me so fast it nearly ran me off the road, and when I saw a cop pulling up I thought, “good, he’s going to catch up with the car that was speeding.” When I realized he was behind me with his lights on I was confused!

“License and proof of insurance,” he said to me in a gruff tone! In my best non-threatening, most cooperative voice, and facial expression that I could present, I told him, “sure thing officer, license, insurance, anything you need I got!”

“Anything I need you got?” he says, “what the hell else do I need other than your license and insurance?” Then, he yells at me, “do you have any weapons or drugs on you, boy!?!?!” He then instructs me to get out of my car and to sit in his patrol car while he did a plain view search of my car. My head is spinning because I’m thinking to myself “what in the hell just happened?”

He then comes to the car and runs my license and quickly discovers that I didn’t have any warrants or tickets or anything on my record, so he informs me that he is going to let me go.

At this point, I’m just riding with it and thinking I’ll be out of here in a few seconds so just remain quiet. The police officer then says that he’s doing me a favor, and he explains “the next time a cop pulls you over don’t act like a smart ass!”

This cop then goes into his interpretation of what he thought I did by smiling and saying sure thing officer anything you need and then handing him my information. He believed that I was a “smart ass” by cooperating the way I did, can you imagine my confusion? He then says that I acted as if he asked me to suck his dick or something!!!” and at this point, I’m very pissed and even more insulted, but I just had to sit there and take his bullshit!

What White American who knows their constitutional rights and perhaps have the I, II, IV and V Amendments tattooed across their chest is going to allow any cop to talk and treat them this way? So why are you expecting minorities just to comply? Is it because we should know our place in society and behave accordingly? I believe there is an underlying tone of racism in the notion that we as minorities must comply in these scenarios.

If average minority citizens have to become pseudo-behavioral analysis majors by not only assessing their moods but the potential mood of the officers in these traffic stops, using the right words, monitoring our tones, body language, then what are we expecting of the PAID and TRAINED public servants?????

As a Behavioral Therapist, I have to be educated on the dynamics of cultural competence, and diversity, but I also have to be wise enough to understand that my training and education in these departments will help my efforts as a health care professional. I believe our society would benefit greatly from us placing the onus back on law enforcement and not subscribing to the notion that it is merely up to a citizen to comply.

The example that I used as the base for my point is not mere conjecture. This is only one of the first-hand accounts of what it is like for minorities in any given city, on any given day.

On another occasion, I had a cop pull his gun and nearly shoot me for making too sudden a movement to get my wallet which was in the backseat in my pant’s pocket! That day I had planned on going out to play basketball with friends, so I changed into my shorts before leaving the job and headed straight to the court. After I had finished playing ball, I got in my car to leave and go home. I forgot my wallet was in my work pants in the backseat of my car. When I was pulled over and asked for my license, I thought, “Oh yeah, my wallet is in my pants!”

Thankfully for me, though the officer pulled his gun, he watched to see me bring back my pants from the backseat, in which I then pulled my wallet from the pocket. It didn’t hit me until I drove away what nearly happened to me, my hands were shaking so bad I had to stop at my friend’s house, who lived nearby, to calm my nerves!

It’s bad enough that people are making posts on social media automatically assuming the worst about many of the victims of these unfortunate circumstances, we can’t afford to have paid officers who do the same!

If our final solution to preventing the incidence of death of unarmed minorities is only teaching compliance without teaching accountability to law enforcement officials… there will be no change.

We must teach cultural competence as well as educate officials on many of the misconceptions about culture or else we are doing a disservice to both law enforcement and the community as a whole.

I would love to see more people out there remembering that all minorities who are citizens of the United States should be afforded the same rights that White Americans are entitled to. Could you imagine Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck complying with a slightly overzealous cop, whether the cop was Black or White? If not, then why must I, as a minority, be obligated to comply?

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. Great points. It’s so sad. The things we have to tell our children before leaving the house… just to make sure they come home!

    Respect to you! Well written.
    be sure to stop by my page! Peace and Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

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