When I was growing up my Father and Mother taught me to respect the law and honor police officers because they had a dangerous job and they were there to protect you and your interests as a citizen and a human being.
Pretty much that was the mindset of everyone in my community back in Queens New York as a preteen back in the mid seventies, but as time went on the climate changed somehow as I began to notice plenty of animosity toward law enforcement officers and it was a bit shocking to me at the time.
I couldn’t understand how was it that the agency that you were supposed to summon when something bad happened was the very organization that many despised deeply with an intensity that bordered on hate.
Hate. It’s a strong word and there are many who don’t bite their tongue in confessing that they truly hate the police. But can all officers of the law deserve this generalized wrath? There have to be SOME cops that are good, that are doing their job well and who I am quite sure deserve to be commended for being a plus to the communities that they work and live in so what gives?
I have found that even the good officers catch a bad rap because of the few(?) bad apples that are holding down the various law enforcement positions. Personally, I have always wondered where were the vocal officers when the dirty deeds were going down? Why the silence? To me, silence means agreement. In New York city I remember it being called the “blue wall of silence,” basically it is an unwritten rule that states that cops do not “snitch” on cops. So there you have it, a problem begins…….
Whenever an organization has an “us verses them” mentality, it can’t help BUT spread beyond the confines of that agency and onto the streets where those who are classified as “them” begin to feel the same way. Back when I was in elementary school at P.S. 121Q in Richmond Hill, Queens, there was a police officer that would regularly visit the school to talk to the students there.
His name I could never forget, it was Officer Huntington and he was most likely an officer at the 106th precinct. But he was so friendly and explained so much to us as we were in amazement at the realities that he shared with our young minds.
Whenever we would see him in the streets, we would bend over backwards to speak to him. “Hello Officer Huntington! Remember me?” He would always say yes but looking back he probably didn’t as he spoke to so many of the children at that school down through the years. He also spoke of his family life which humanized him to us and made us realize that he was a normal man who had a job to do, a very demanding job that could cost an officer their life.
But children were no threat back in those days, all we wanted to do was to get good grades in school, play with our friends and spend time with our families.
Life was so simple back then…….
The difference between us then when we were kids is that we wouldn’t dare do anything that would bring shame and disgrace to our parents and family name.
Today? It seems as though many saplings are trying to do just THAT!
Children now are growing up faster, not in a physical sense per se’, well, let me correct that, they ARE getting developed faster from the hormone laced meat and dairy products. Some of these young teenage girls are definitely not prepared emotionally for the adult scenarios that their premature bodies are introducing them to, but that’s another blog now isn’t it? But yes, they are growing up faster and they are realizing that all cops aren’t the “Officer Huntington’s” of my glorious upbringing. It works both ways though, because the kids these days have juvenile rap sheets that would make the grown criminals 30 years ago flinch with embarrassment!
Young girls brag about their special abilities in mastering certain acts that bring them lots of money from men who could almost be their grandfathers. Young boys barely out of middle school fathering children themselves and becoming street hardened criminals long before they graduate high school. Many welcome the ‘hood “rights and passage” of manhood by getting into the lower level drug trade and few get a chance to ever enjoy becoming the legal age of twenty-one because of their early funerals.
So imagine what the police have to go through when they must deal with youngsters who are unfortunately because of the dreadful circumstances and the bleak environment bred to be the criminals of tomorrow in a hopeless economy and oftentimes a hopeless world from their personal point of view. They don’t grow up with a respect for the law, they embrace a strong distaste for it. And while my generation would strive to live in harmony with the police officers of my day, it is a cultural expectancy today to sneer publicly at any law enforcement officer even if you had absolutely no reason to do so. It’s not popular to be the “Poe-Poe” anymore. Where once it was a common thing to hear a young man claim that he wanted to be a police officer when he grew up, now you hardly hear many young men say this now. And young Black men? Don’t waste your time, you’ll probably have a better chance of finding Osama Bin Laden tomorrow taking a leisurely stroll down at your shopping mall.
This is how drastic our culture has changed toward law enforcement.
Now granted, the dirty cops are becoming more and more of a common fixture in the minority neighborhoods, and I can stretch my imagination a bit to say that I can understand an occasional heavy handed “off the record” tactic that may have to be employed by the cops when the situation calls for it because I know what is out there. But both sides of the law are way off from what they should be and it will only get worse as far as shootings on both sides if this chasm is allowed to deepen any more than it already has.
I feel that both sides are being fooled badly. On the one hand, you have these wayward kids from broken homes who usually have no father present in their life to guide them along the correct path in life and when you do what kind of example is it? How can a child have a strong desire to learn and grow when their father is on the corner bumming nickels for a beer or blatantly bed hopping with every woman in sight? Imagine the resentment that is manifested from within as these youngsters get older?
As a working man who keeps my nose clean of anything that would land me in trouble, I’ve noticed in my personal/professional life that I get mixed reactions on how I carry myself when in close proximity to many wayward young men to whom might get to know me briefly or in passing. Many times while driving my bus, I have cultivated a friendly and sometimes not so friendly dialogue with them and I have learned so much from these small encounters to say the least.
I have found that the young men who have no strong father figure at home will react to me in either one of two ways. They will embrace who I am and grow to open up and confide in me as a surrogate father or they will reject me on sight because of the resentment built up over the years from knowing that they didn’t have a father figure in their lives. The majority of people out here in the world that do not possess the depth of insight just will not understand that with human nature, the very thing that some of us want and need so badly we will reject because of the built up resentment that we may of had from the prior situation of not having that mandatory and very much needed comfort in our lives.
That resentment can also be a deciding factor between life and death when an officer of the law goes about doing his or her job in correcting a troubled youth who sees this officer in an indirect way as the father or authority figure that he never had and who may have skipped out on him earlier in his life. That cop is a reminder of the pain he feels and the memories not created that this young man or woman craved deep down their whole entire life.
This is why many female officers will not get shot when encountering the very same dangerous tense life and death situation because her very profile represents something entirely different to a pumped up angry male. As a matter of fact, I’ve personally witnessed this same phenomenon in a brief stint as a corrections officer in North Carolina and here in Orlando Florida, the female officers very presence offered a kind of “release” to the male inmates even though they were ninety-nine times out of one-hundred physically the weaker person when compared the natural occuring inherent strength advantages that automatically come with the package of being a man.
These statements are merely small insights that can explain partially some of the factors that can create the tensions that lay the groundwork for a young man to rebel against authority figures and eventually against the law. I would not attempt to explain away everything in my statements as every situation is completely different.
We as Black men carry a lot of our frustrations hidden and brewing below the surface like a pressure cooker waiting to blow. We just don’t talk about what stresses us until it’s too late. We have feelings behind the strong visage and athletic strut that captures the attention of all who drink in our awe inspiring and sometimes intimidating presence. But truth be told for many of us, that’s all we have, sorry to spill that secret Brothers, it’s not all of us, but way too many.
This world can be frightening for anyone as fast as it is evolving, it seems like as soon as you learn the rules to this life and settle into a somewhat stable existence, some evil power comes along to rip you out of your comfort zone and change the rules forcing you to start all over again.
Think it’s easy?
This is the norm in the everyday life of the Black man. Not every Black man, but much too much of us. It’s not an excuse. Not at all. I am merely painting a picture with my words to bring you into a mindset that you may not have been privy to or may have misunderstood. The uncertainty can be a killer. Why do you think that so many of us are dropping down dead from heart attacks while at the same time appearing to be the perfect picture of health?
Don’t let the good looks fool you…….
As usual, I’ve strayed far from my intended direction but allow me to bring it back into focus. The bottom line for many reasons our youth have been programmed with the wrong agenda, the wrong data, the hijacked culture that I often speak of. The video games make murder and death fair-seeming. The disconnect created from broken families only amplifies this isolated condition. The lack of the barest of necessities in such a materialistic world is nothing short of an embarrassment when under the tsunami of peer pressure that won’t stop until one gives in.
Opportunities are there but for some it appears that they are further away than they really are. With no one around who thinks positive to encourage them they succumb to the mentality of doom. STD’s are alive and well but that’s not enough to dissuade our kids from experimenting with each other as illicit sex has not only become a casual recreation like merely something to do to break the boredom of ‘hood life but it has also become a means of yielding a false sense of power to bring a rush of superiority for a short time to the powerless. You hear how our men speak to each other in public, “When I finally laid this dick to that bitch, she couldn’t help but call me daddy and give me that check every week because she know that she don’t want to lose this!”
How can our young men BECOME men when the ONLY men that they are around speak like THAT?
So here we are frustrated, misinformed, truant, non motivated for any righteous endeavor, morally bankrupt, pissed off at the world, unemployed, hopeless with no plan, no dream or goals to strive for and so far away from a relationship with the higher power that they live in what can only be described as a “pre-hell.”
Now here comes a cop with an attitude informing these young men on the corner that they have to move it along or else. This is no reason to shoot an officer of the law, but when these confrontations of testosterone laced encounters are an almost daily happening, it doesn’t take long for an opinion to get formed on who is not the most well like people in the ‘hood. You see, from what I’ve observed, there may be no place for these young men to go. The police may reminisce about their younger days in Little League Baseball, Hockey practice or the trips out of state over the summer with their family. But there is nothing like that in the ‘hood except the basketball court where bullets usually fly on a regular basis and where drugs can be purchased with ease as well as the companionship of a crack whore.
So what kind of wholesome teenage memories do you think these guys are creating?
So comparable to the clash of the hot and cold air of a gruesome thunderstorm, the low expectations of the police coupled with the deep rooted resentments for all forms of authority create a vortex of swirling animosities that can bring the parties involved in a deadly hit or miss game of Russian Roulette that will eventually manifest in a deadly confrontation. Maybe not always but the tensions are always building. Not all of the time but with so many factors involved, is it a wonder that it isn’t too hard for these young men to take out their frustrations on an authority figure with a gun?
We need more Officer Huntington’s in the world today don’t we?
Proactive police officers who reach out to the communities and help to vent the frustrations of those irritated residents would go above and beyond for making the streets a safer place both for it’s residents and the cops who police them. My words weren’t meant to excuse anyone for breaking the law of bringing harm to a law enforcement officer, which in my mind is an evil act that is totally unthinkable, just as it is for one abuses the power that is entrusted to them to protect the people of ALL communities with a fair and balanced judgment. It was shared to ponder the many factors that bring a person to the point where they do not care about pulling the trigger of a fun on another human being.
Until we see ourselves collectively as human beings no matter what the race, pedigree, political affiliations, lifestyle preferences, background or financial portfolio, look for it to happen time and time again!
Is this the type of world that we deserve to live in?