Let’s get one thing straight: I have no tolerance for racial injustice. What happened in Minnesota last week is not okay, and I would never imply that it is. However, it is important to me to point out that most cases of police violence against black people are not directed toward the innocent. That’s why I defend the police and their alleged “brutality,” especially today, on the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riots. The timing just seems right.
I would never try to justify the events of last week. They were horrific and unnecessary. But it’s not fair that police get such a bad rap for beating or shooting or kneeling on black people to death all the time. People don’t understand what it can be like to feel constantly threatened, constantly worried. And it’s crucial that I bring this up today, on the anniversary of the single worst incident of racist violence in American history in which an entire community of upstanding, affluent black families was decimated over a false accusation, because I think people really need to see both sides of the issue.
While police brutality is rare, people have the right to protest it. Peaceful protest is their right as American citizens. But shouting obscenities at cops, destroying police cruisers, and burning small businesses are absolutely unnecessary and not conducive to preventing racist violence toward the black community in the future. And sure, today specifically is a weird time to make that point, considering that the racist white residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma took to the streets and even flew bomber planes over their bustling black community to burn down their small businesses 99 years ago, doing exactly what I am scolding black people for doing today. But the point still stands: I’m incapable of seeing irony.
While policing as an institution is inextricably entwined with a legacy of racism that has persisted for centuries in this country, as exhibited by the fact that in this very 24 hour period in 1920, a town full of white people aided by law enforcement attacked Black Wall Street, a neighborhood of black people who were descendents of slaves and had managed to pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps as black people are so often advised to do even until this day despite the many historical and economic factors keeping that from being a realistic possibility, that shouldn’t make my defense any less valid. Maybe the black community today could learn a thing or two from Tulsa’s black community then and be a little more quiet about their own oppression.
So, who’s with me?