…And by “Jungle Monkey” I Mean You!

Every Black person I know has, at some point in their lives, received the “how to” instructions with regard to being confronted by police officers.  These instructions apply no matter what your level of class status is or which city you’re in.  The point is for us to show self-abasing deference to the state-sanctioned power that is embodied by the person with the badge.  The instructions are for our safety.  I tell my son to address officers as “sir” and “ma’am” so as not to remind the officer(s) how deserving black skin is of physical and psychological abuse.

I’ve read numerous comments on Dr. Gates’ arrest, and their appears to be a clear racial divide.  Those who are White or “blue” tend to agree with the arresting officer, and those who have collectively and individually suffered a history of state-sanctioned violence, disrespect, and outright terrorism at the hands of the street-level bureaucracy that is the police, well, we understand the brotha’s arrest in a different light.

It is fear not respect or love or any other emotion or disposition that drives Black people to cower before police officers.  We are indeed terrorized by the police.  This is true by defintion.  The stories abound of Blacks being brutalized by police officers.  Those that make the news are but mere markers indicating absolute truths in the lives of so many of us that we are scarcely outraged by what happens.  In fact, our indignation is only voiced because the racist act has reached the ears of White people, and we figure that we ought to use that rare moment when Whites are ostensibly paying attention to maybe get a message or two across.  For every story of police abuse of power that makes it to the eyes and ears of White America, dozens more go unheard and unseen.  We, the Black community, share them amongst ourselves in order to teach one another how to deal with the police.

In the video above, a White man is completey within his privilege and right as a citizen of the United States to question the police officer about accosting him.  However, I, and most other Blacks, would never dream of speaking to an officer this way for fear of a beating and arrest with some strange charge like “Enacting freedom of speech while Black.”

In the video above, we see a chickens coming home to roost type of event.  This officer demands respect while offering none.  He’s physically and psychologically abusive without cause.  Officer Riviere (sp) even goes so far as to threaten the child’s life.  Police officers have a real belief that they are above the law–not within the law.  This is especially true in police dealings with persons of color.  There is a tacit understanding between the police and our Black citizenry that we are indeed 3/5 human when being addressed by the police.

We must bear these things in mind when evaluating Dr. Gates’ arrest.  I recently asked the following questions of a fellow blogger who believes that the police had the moral and legal highground with regard to arresting Dr. Gates:

  1. What do you read (regularly) that informs your politics, understandings of culture, and the interplay of sexuality, race, gender, and class issues?
  2. If you do not have the requisite knowledge to intelligently determine whether race is a factor in any given scenario, how do you propose to formulate a tenable opinion?

I have yet to receive an answer to those questions, and while someone else responded by beginning that he is “well-versed” in such issues, he did not address either question.  I would honestly like to know where the citizens of this nation are getting their information.


These are my favorite types of racists.  They are not hiding.  This officer’s feelings are as American as apple pie!

Such racist discourse is common and natural to White people.  It’s something they can all join in…

…and these racist attacks are much more than fleeting moments of ignorance or hatred.  These represent the perpetrator’s truest feelings–a lack of psychological controls that usually belie Whites’ deepest beliefs.  In situations like the video above, when someone says, “I lost control,” they are referring to the breaking down of the politically correct walls that guard us all from their virulent emotions regarding race.  What they are saying is, “I slipped and let you know how I truly felt.”  And, that we continue to find such “isolated racists outbursts” among every class, gender, and sexual orientation within White America speaks to how widespread these believes really are.  Many Whites are holding these beliefs just under their skin.  It takes so little to draw it out.  The trigger may be as simple as a Black man expressing disgust for police officers who have no real business in his home once a misunderstanding is cleared; it may be “driving while Black;” or it could be as mundane and American as running for president.  Whatever the trigger, watch out once White ire erupts.

I’ve got a new respect for Reverend Al Sharpton whose argument is historically rooted, morally correct, and simply unaddressed by his opponent.  Pay close attention to what Officer Justin Barrett says in his “apology.”  Sharpton points this out.  Barrett is neither apologetic or sorrowful for what he said.  The man spoke his heart.  And listen to the academic rhetorical acrobatics Ann must perform in order to even have something to say.

The truth is, a Black president is not proof of the end of racism.  Racism is not a thing of the past, and for those who think it is, I ask this question: When did racism end?  Let’s be grounded in reality here.  How long should a people brutalized by the police continue to give the police the benefit of the doubt?  At what point do White people stop being satisfied with their ignorance of what this country actually is–not theoretically or abstractly, but actually?

I want to end this post by asking again for a response to the two questions I posed to my fellow blogger:

  1. What do you read (regularly) that informs your politics, understandings of culture, and the interplay of sexuality, race, gender, and class issues?
  2. If you do not have the requisite knowledge to intelligently determine whether race is a factor in any given scenario, how do you propose to formulate a tenable opinion?

You must be willing to educate yourself on any given topic in order to have an “educated-opinion.”  Otherwise, you’re spitting in the wind.

On our blog we have provided an abbreviated reading list in several areas of knowledge.  For those who care to learn more, we are more than happy to suggest good places to begin, or you can just refer to the list in the left column.  For those who are not interested in learning more, if you’re White, I’m not surprised, and if you’re Black, be ashamed.

…there’s gotta be some rules people!

2 thoughts on “…And by “Jungle Monkey” I Mean You!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s