Another day, another video surfacing of black children being mistreated by white cops. Another chorus of “we don’t really know what happened,” “let’s reserve judgement,” “well if she hadn’t…” Another afternoon I sit trying to figure out how to say this differently: STOP HURTING US!
In a video released online, we see cops trying to corral a group of teens in the suburb of McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. One presumably white teen is allowed to walk around videotaping while black and brown children are yelled at, cursed and manhandled by police. A 15-year-old girl in a bikini is wrestled to the ground and sat on by a cop obviously much stronger than her. Friends try to help her, only to have a gun pulled on them by the same out of control cop.
I can’t imagine what threat this child posed, even as she was repeatedly berated and told to be quiet. This child had been audibly begging for her mother to be called before being pinned. I can only imagine being summoned to this scene and seeing my daughter on the ground, face down, with a grown male sitting on top of her. This is a parent’s worst nightmare. The very people you raise your child to look to for help, the “community helpers” they are taught about in school, are the very same people who hurt them with impunity. These cops acted as if the black and brown children were the cause of the problem before even defining the problem. These are the very people who will cut them down in an instant, then lie and say it was their fault. As many have asked, “who do you call for help when the helpers hurt you?”
The kicker in this particular story? Some witnesses say the whole ordeal started with a rude, cursing, belligerent and violent white woman. Go figure.
Many studies show how black children’s childhoods are routinely taken away from them well before they reach adulthood. I cringe when someone tells me my son looks mature, because I know that could be a potential problem for him. We know that black children are punished more harshly in the school systems and they are forgiven far less easily than their white peers. When little Johnny accidentally trips Susie, he’s simply told to apologize. When little Tyrone does the same, he may get sent to the principal. When Johnny gets older and curses in class, the teacher tells him to watch his mouth. When Tyrone curses in school, he is given a ticket to appear in court. In many ways, Black children are never allowed to be children. There is no such thing as “harmless fun” for them. They can’t afford to just be silly little kids navigating the world and making mistakes in a safe space. There are no safe spaces.