So I was pulled over for an out head light last night coming back from a cookout, and I was scared shitless. Scared, and was honest with the officer that I was scared. He was very nice, explained why he pulled me over and we realized we had the same tattoo guy for our ink. But it makes me think of how different it could have been. How the expectation for black folk is so tight and narrow, that getting upset at being wrongly accused of something could end up with us being killed. Being pulled over made me stiller than I have ever been with my heart racing a million miles a second. It made me afraid to make a move in case that move was read incorrectly. It makes me think of the thought of “compliance” and the expectations people of black people complying. My mom said she is more worried about a cop having a bad day and shooting me then she is of me traveling the world by myself. Let that sink in. My white mom is more worried about a cop than me going to Cuba by myself.
If he or she would have just complied… Those words consistently ring in my head whenever another black person has been murdered by the police. Why didn’t they comply? If they would have just listened to the officer they wouldn’t be dead. If Sandra Bland had only put out her cigarette she wouldn’t be dead. If Philandro Castille hadn’t reached for his ID he wouldn’ t be dead. If. If. If. I find it interesting the amount of compliance expected out of people of color is not the same expected out of white people. I see black people getting murdered for less egregious things that white people are tased but taken alive for.
I hear the other side. Cops jobs are dangerous, you don’t know all the circumstances, you don’t understand how it feels to be scared in those times. You don’t understand, you don’t understand, you don’t understand. And you are right. I do not understand what it means to be a cop in those situations. I agree. But on the flip side, you don’t know it feels to be a black person in that power dynamic and know you will ALWAYS lose. No matter what happens, we will always be the loser. That is the side I do know. I do know that it is ok for a cop to have fear and to make a movement from that fear, but it is not given the same respect for a for a black person to be scared and make a movement based on fear. I do know that grace is given to the scared cop but not the scared black person. I do know that.
This “compliance” thought process has been shown time and time again to be incorrect. It was shown withCharles Kinsey lying on the ground with an autistic patient and still being shot. It was shown with a man who did everything he was supposed to with his hands in the air and still shot by the police. This was the epitome of compliance and still shot. It is shown in Philandro Castille telling the cop he had a weapon and reaching for his ID as the officer asked him to do. It shows that people of color must be completely calm while cops can be afraid for their lives. It showed that being honest and telling a cop you have a firearm will only get 7 bullets in you within 11 seconds. It shows that people of color don’t get a chance to not be compliant because any movement is now deemed noncompliant and death is the only acceptable answer. Unfortunately, compliance done by people of color has been shown to still get us shot or murdered.
But then I see or read the white person version of compliance. I read about Patrick Own McHenry who pointed a rifle at a mother and daughter, shot at their house, and shot at police, and managed to be taken alive. I see the story of Eliza Wasni who stabbed her Uber driver to death, ran away with the machete, was noncompliant with the police, but still managed to be tazed and taken alive. A young woman who left a trail of blood, still had the murder weapon, and killed someone was able to be taken alive.
Then I read about Charleena Lyles who called the police because of a burglary, had noted mental health issues, showed a knife and was immediately killed in front of her children. If compliance will keep people alive, then how is Eliza not dead? How is a killer taken alive when she wasn’t compliant?
I just watched a video of a white male fight while being arrested. He literally reached around both cops for their weapons while they were attempting to take him down. At no point did they reach for any weapon. He was prepared to take their guns, and he was STILL not shot. He was taken down with no punches or kicks to his body. If compliance is the issue, then how is he still alive.
So back to my original question… Why is it black people have to be compliant, yet white people do not? Why does their non-compliancy result in being taken down alive and ours results in immediate death?