Today America’s law enforcement officers offered up yet another tone-deaf response to the issue of state-sanctioned violence while continuing to uphold white supremacy by cooperating with the devaluing of our bodies and enabling of race soldiers to slaughter us.
The Boston Police Department tweeted an image of three, smiling youth of color with a police officer behind them. The image is captioned “The #BPD Ice Cream Truck gives kids a reason to run towards our officers and not away from them. And – you know what – we love that!!!”. The tweet was deleted quickly after a massive number of Twitter users pointed out how tasteless – to say the least – the tweet was. Thankfully, the Internet is forever and things we upload live on in screenshots and the written pieces they provoke.
As someone who was born, raised, and has resided in Massachusetts up until my college career, it is unsurprising that such a tone-deaf response would come from the Boston Police Department given the racism that so often goes unchecked in Massachusetts and the denial of Massachusetts residents that it exists. The most recent example is the incident at Fenway Park during which Adam Jones was the target of racial abuse and Bostonians were shocked at accusations of racism that followed and were apparently unaware of Boston’s racist history.
What truly got to me about this tweet is that while this was being tweeted, a little over 1,000 miles away the officer who murdered Philando Castile in cold blood in front of his significant other and his child walked free and will likely return to his job and receive back pay. What continues to make my blood boil is that while this was being tweeted, another black person was likely being racially profiled, harassed, beaten, handcuffed, and/or killed by a law enforcement officer somewhere in this country. What moves me to a point where all I can do is cry is that despite those two facts, everything is still about law enforcement officers. It’s about window dressing. It’s about “not all cops -“, “well, what if you were in their shoes and -“, “maybe Black Americans should teach their children to -“. It’s about humanizing the oppressor and dehumanizing the oppressed to such a point that our murder trials will result in our killers being cleared of any wrongdoing. The steps being taken to remedy the seemingly irreparable relationship between this nation’s police and Black America completely ignores law enforcement’s role in upholding white supremacy and enforcing laws intended to disproportionately harm populations of color and instead prioritize polishing the image of law enforcement and making people of color believe that we must change our perception of law enforcement. The only real steps being taken to address police brutality, much like the only really steps being taken to dismantle institutional racism in other facets of American society are being taken by Black people. And when Black people take those steps and garner support, those at the forefront are harassed by law enforcement, are targeted by the FBI, or are mysteriously found dead while police officers smile with black children in front of the cameras and to then fire six warning shots in their backs when they believe the cameras are no longer rolling.
Let me be clear. Black America does not want law enforcement to give us ice cream. Black America does not want to dab or to dougie with law enforcement officers. Black America does not want you to push us on the swings or to watch us do the monkey bars. Black America does not want to play one-on-one basketball games with law enforcement officers at our local YMCA. Black America does not want to here about how great being a police officer is on career days at school. Black America does not want to be featured in the photos you upload to your social media pages. Black America does not want to have any cool, secret handshakes with you. Black America does not want you to randomly show up at our cookouts or family events. Black America does not want you to wish us a “Happy Black History Month”.
Black America wants to see their dad in the audience at their kindergarten graduation. Black America wants to lose their first tooth. Black America wants to join their middle school basketball time. Black America wants to see high school prom and high school graduation.Black America wants eighteenth birthdays. Black America wants to get their Bachelor’s, then their Master’s, and maybe even their Ph.D. Black America wants to get their first apartment and to one day move in with the person that they love. Black America wants to raise their children. Black America wants to teach their children how to ride a bike. Black America wants to put their children through school and have the opportunity to watch them marry the love of their life and to meet their grandchildren. Black America wants our reparations and to be left the hell alone.
It would not matter if the Boston Police Department or any police department in the United States called in Olivia Pope herself. No public relations ploy can cover the black and brown blood spilled by this nation’s police force or fool Black America into believing our survival has ever been taken into consideration by any U.S. government entity.
What will unlikely be the last time I say this, we do not want ice cream; we want justice.