Thoughts on McKinney

I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. A lot, a lot.

So when the news of #McKinney pool party fiasco blew up a couple of days ago, I thought to myself: “I. CANNOT. DEAL. WITH. THIS. ISH.”

I mean what else can we write about police brutality, about the worth of human life, about the invisibility of privilege, about fear-mongering, about the expectation that black and brown folks just be quiet and conform, about how if only black and brown people weren’t actually black and brown…

I respect authority.

I and my family have quite many law enforcement folks in our friend circles.

Not all cops are bad.

But we black and brown folks apparently have a problem with cops.

We do. Or rather, they have a problem with us.

And the increasing scrutiny, protests, anger, body cams, calls for peace, law suits, indictments and prosecutions seems to not have stemmed what feels like a persistent assault on people who look like me.

Sure, it’s easy to say that I have attained a certain amount of privilege thanks to sacrifices (by of a lot of folks before me and around me) and education, and that I’m not like *those* people in the numerous videos showing black and brown bodies being slammed to the ground, begging for their very lives. It’s easy with a bit of privilege to ask, “Well, why didn’t they just comply and do what the officer asked before he asks it?” It’s easy to dismiss the validity of the brutality that we are seeing day in and day out by digging into backgrounds of victims as young as 12, and recasting them as low-life thugs worthy of harassment, of physical and emotional brutality, of neighborhood terrorism (#yeahIsaidthatish) and of death.

It’s easy to write them us off.

It’s also apparently easy to conclude that we provoke the well-meaning folks around us committed to protecting us to turn on us.

There is seemingly a very, very, very thin line between love and hate.

Weekly…weekly…I have to have a conversation with Hope about police brutality. It doesn’t matter that we might be fighting like cats and dogs about ish going on in our house, but we will stop the war momentarily to discuss the latest video, the latest funeral, the latest indictment or why there isn’t one handed down by a grand jury.

I have to remind Hope, and myself, that not all cops are bad. I have to defend the blue line even if I’m not so sure they would defend or protect us 100% of the time. I have to try to help regain and retain trust in a system my daughter came to me hating because of her previous interactions with it with her first family.

I managed to avoid watching the video of the McKinney pool party for a couple of days. I just couldn’t watch it. I read about what happened. I saw the calls for action all over my personal FB page and all over twitter. But I would not click that link.

I didn’t want to be angry. I didn’t want to be sad. I didn’t want to be fearful. I didn’t want to imagine being a victim.

But by Monday morning, I couldn’t avoid it anymore. So after I got to the office for the day I logged on to YouTube and watched it.

I cried.

There are lots of reasons my emotional response. The video starts off easy enough; a cool headed officer talking with kids, explaining why they shouldn’t run from the cops. Enter the offending officer whose yelling and attitude changed seemed to change everything about what happened next. I couldn’t believe the language being used around these kids. I couldn’t believe the ease with which white people in the video moved around at their own leisure, while black people were chased, yelled at, snatched up, forced to sit, weapons drawn upon. I couldn’t believe that a grown ass white woman spewing racial epithets fought a teenager setting off a series of events leading to this fiasco.

I couldn’t believe how much that teenaged girl, flung around and sat on, face down in the grass, looked like my daughter Hope.

Both tall with lanky limbs, long twists or braids swinging as they moseyed on the sidewalk, apparently too slow for the officer to be satisfied (Lawd does Hope walk slow!). And she may have said something snarky as teens do, I don’t know.

But seconds later, I heard her calling for her mother. I heard her begging for a reason for why this grown ass man was sitting on her. I saw two teenaged boys move towards her to help only to be chased off by a cop with a weapon drawn, suddenly chased at his behest by two other cops.

I know how easily Hope gets scared. I know how easily she reacts to uncomfortable situations. She might’ve run to try desperately to get away from the unfolding drama, but that might’ve got her sat upon as well. I see her in my mind’s eye, crying for me, begging for me to come see about her, to come save her.

And I see me rescuing her, and hugging her, smoothing her hair, wiping her tears and calling someone to come sit with her while I proceed to lose my ish and wreck shop. #rideordie

It would really be nice to live in world where I didn’t have to have this conversation with my daughter every week. It would be really nice to live in a space where my skin didn’t mark me as other in ways that people apparently find threatening.

I. CANNOT. DEAL. WITH. THIS. ISH.

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About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted tween a few years ago, and this blog chronicles our journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2016. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

16 responses to “Thoughts on McKinney

  • Belladonna Took

    Holy shit. Another one??? No, I wasn’t aware of it – I don’t have FB, and I check the news only a couple times a week. So this is the first time I’ve seen it.

    ABM, I feel sick. I grew up in South Africa during the apartheid years and I saw and heard about some very, very ugly stuff. There is scary ugly stuff happening (and, I fear, worse brewing) there right now, this time black on white.

    But these American cops … their arrogance, their fucking over-the-top testosterone-fueled aggression toward the people they are PAID to protect … this is something else. And it scares me, because how do we stop them? How do we make this stop? At what point do we the people engage in civil disobedience – and when we do, will be be shot too?

  • lyra211

    I’m so sorry. I have no words. Social media and the omnipresence of recording devices is such a double-edged sword — on the one hand, it shows truth in what would otherwise be the word of the police against the word of a bunch of black teenagers. A lot of clueless and complacent (mostly white) people are being forced to confront their/our privilege because of it, and I hope and feel that it’s helping to build momentum for real change. On the other hand, its incredibly painful — for us and for kids like Hope who you know are watching — to see the police brutality and racism in stark reality. It’s chilling. And I’m so sorry that you have to deal with it now on top of everything else.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      It is a tool, but it’s a powerful one as you say. I hope that other families are taking time to have the difficult kinds of conversations that I’m having with Hope. That’s where real change happens. If people who aren’t feeling affected don’t talk about this kind of stuff, don’t take it up and teach their kids, then the cycle will persist. 😦

  • My Perfect Breakdown

    I so struggle to understand this divide and all the complexities of it. And, I am so grateful for your voice and your interpretation of it as you work through it all with your daughter – we may be a multiracial family one day and I know my awareness of this is just the beginning of what this could mean to our lives – I don’t mean to say it doesn’t matter now and that all children of all colours should be learning about this in order to help prevent such racism in the future. Rather, what I’m saying is that if our child is directly impacted by these events it will hit a lot closer to home. (I hope you get what I’m saying).

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Totally get what you’re saying. I tell people that learning about race/color is like eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You learn so many beautiful things but you also learn about racism and all the crap that comes with it. It’s both-and, not either or. You’ll do fine. Just keep talking and thinking about it; even though it’s hard and painful. It is supposed to be.

  • AdoptiveNYMomma

    I have no words to share. Sending prayers your way.

  • Mimi

    I watched the original video on YouTube and read many of the comments. When regular teenage behaviors are wrapped in black bodies, there is a complete lack of empathy for how they are treated. It’s incredibly scary to Nana caught up in a situation that escalates out of control, not only because teenagers will be teenagers but because police officers are much more likely to treat black children as criminals.

  • Valarie Johnson

    I have been amazed at my Facebook feed during all these events – what white people say when they don’t think black people are listening/reading. “#AllLivesMatter” “I’m so sick of everybody making this about race,” etc. The video was so obvious; white teens walked idly by, while black teenagers walking on the sidewalk were screamed at to sit down, and if they protested and asked why, they were handcuffed. I didn’t think questioning a police officer was a crime. None of them seemed to be physically threatening anyone – perhaps they were “sassing back” (hard to hear) but that doesn’t need to be met with force. A white teenager videotaped everything and the officer didn’t address her at all. It’s clearly about race.

    I thought it was strange that the officer clearly knew he was being recorded and didn’t change his behavior. Does this mean bodycams would not be a deterrent?

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Pure conjecture, but I think he thought the white teenager’s film perspective would be bolstered with sympathetic commentary. Consider how he yelled at the girl’s friend who started recording him when he assaulted her friend. He *saw* her, but never reacted to the main recorder. smh.

  • Belladonna Took

    ABM, I’d be interested to know your take on this post… http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2015/06/09/holdin-out-for-a-nonwhite-funny-fictional-hero/

    First off, you may well be able to suggest some books. Secondly, however, my gut response was, “Where are the not-white authors who should be writing these books?” I’m going to post a comment on the story. It really got me thinking.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      I loved the post and put it on my FB and TWitter as a great read. Sadly I don’t have any book recommendations as I’m just getting into teen lit (probably will have some ideas later this summer). I do know that like in film, authors of color have a harder time getting this kind of lit published, frequently hearing the argument “Is there really a market for that?” I find that you really have to commit to finding small independent book shops (minority owned) to find these kinds of books as folks have to commit to self-publishing. You’re simply not going to find it in the big bookstores and the additional expense of having it available as an e-book sometimes is out of reach, though it makes it easier to get on a wholesaler site like Amazon.

      I guess what I’m saying is that these books likely exist but you have to know where to look for them; they are off the beaten path.

  • TheChroniclesofaNonBellyMama

    You know, I couldn’t even watch this whole thing. Mary caught a glimpse of it in our local news and wanted to know why the police were “sitting on the skinny girl”. What struck me at first was that she didn’t say, “the skinny BLACK girl”. My foster daughter, in a multiracial family, with two moms, didn’t see color. I was almost stunned but didn’t really know why, because we never categorize people by skin color. And then it became important for Callie and I to really explain to her why this scene was so much worse that she could have thought or that her 7 yr old mind could have processed. This ish is getting crazy, and becoming an every day occurrence. This country is really falling apart…it’s just super sad…

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