When you say it's not about race, it's about race
|Angry white males get to sleep it off...|
Moreover, when I wanna get mouthy to a cop (which I've done on lots of occasions) I do so in full realization, and, to some extent because of the realization, that here in the South, but probably in America generally, they're gonna let a tone from my obnoxious white mouth go that they would never accept from a black one.
I was arrested once, by a small black female officer for driving without a license (I was guilty. I got off because the black guy that tried to fight the charges before me took too long and everyone who came after him got "stetted.") I remember being nearly ecstatic that the black guy ahead of me had a lawyer who was going to actually try and get him off, and argued at length (unsuccessfully) about the search and seizure that resulted in his arrest.
And that's one thing crime stats just don't get at. The way the police tend to push people is, even in the case of black cops, a white way. When you read that someone was arrested for "resisting arrest" for example, that means that the police responded to a complaint, found no crime, and then bullied the person they were there to "investigate" into crossing a line.
In my most recent case, the cop indicated to me that he wasn't going to take my complaint seriously, shared a smile and a nod with my false accuser and dared me to give him a reason to arrest me. It's way more common than you might think, but because I'm a white person, I picked up on his tone and body language. I understood that I could say enough to feel like I got some good licks in, but that I was a loser. There is no question in my mind that, if I were a black man, I would have been arrested by the police at least twice in the last two years for resisting arrest.
It isn't quite a case of racism but more a case of a poor understanding of code switching. The horror for too many black people is that they are not able to code-switch fast enough and the police, being both armed and beyond any real scrutiny don't have to deal with code switching. So as a white, middle class guy, I can pick up on their boundaries and choose to push them if I like (or not, depending upon whether I'm willing to go to jail). It's an advantage I have by the luck of birth, like being able to speed next to a black guy in a Lexus. It isn't anything that we ever possibly could see in crime statistics, or train officers to begin to get a sense of. It very well could be the last of the primal and tribal evolution has cursed humanity with. But as people blessed with reason and self-reflection we owe it to ourselves not to be too naive about it.