As my friend said recently: The reason a North Miami police officer shot Charles Kinsey was because he wearing the wrong color.
To those who ask, “How do we know it was motivated by racism, we don’t know what the officer was thinking,” I say: 1) The (white) autistic man was the one who had the toy car someone had perceived as a weapon, yet the cop’s focus was solely on the black man; 2) The police union president said that the officer — a SWAT team member — was actually aiming at the autistic man. With marksmanship that faulty? Seriously?; 3) If that hard-to-believe defense were true, why was the victim, who had done nothing wrong and followed all police instructions, handcuffed and left to bleed on the hot street for 20 minutes after he’d been shot?
If it wasn’t because of Kinsey’s color, I can’t think of another plausible explanation. I am white. However, I’ve been in line to board airplanes and heard agents point out to African-American ticket holders that “We’re boarding first class only now” without checking to see whether, indeed, they’re holding tickets for the front of the aircraft. I have seen the disparity of treatment some of my friends who are black have received, waiting longer than white restaurant patrons who arrived after them to be served. Their 20-something sons have been stopped by police in affluent neighborhoods. Asked where they were going, they said they live in the area — after which officers checked their licenses and driving records, then followed them home. These are well-behaved, nicely dressed offspring of professionals driving within the speed limit. In 2016, not 1960.
I don’t know what the answer is to creating a world in which people — cops, shopkeepers, neighbors — treat everyone fairly, but getting to know people of other races and ethnicities is a good way to start. Hearing firsthand accounts from people you love about their experiences makes us more attuned to what’s going on outside our own world, and more important, makes us care. Maybe it’s a start.
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Janet Carabelli, El Portal