Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unfriended by a racist cop

I had a disturbing facebook conversation with two police officers (from outside the Hudson Valley) about seven weeks ago. I have pasted it below in its entirety. I was tempted as I prepared this post to provide a running commentary alongside it; perhaps I will another time. For now, the conversation is presented as it unfolded.

All the individuals participating in this discussion are white. I have masked the names of the two officers and that of a third participant to protect their identities. "Officer Pink" is was a facebook friend in Pennsylvania. I don't know where "Officer Gray" resides and works, and I was not sure when I entered the conversation that he is an officer. However, he is addressed as such by Officer Pink.

I don't believe their views are indicative of the views of a majority of white cops, or that there are more racists among white police officers than among white Americans in general. Nor do I think, as I attempted to make clear in the conversation, that the African-American man in the video should be excused for his actions. But I do believe that a startling number of white Americans, many of whom deem themselves enlightened on matters of race, do not understand why many African-Americans rightly fear the police. More generally, they do not understand that many African-Americans carry a minute-by-minute burden that white Americans do not carry. It is stunning and saddening that so many white people still don't get it.
[NOTE: During the conversation, I misunderstood Officer Pink's claim made above that her family is half minority. Officer Pink is white with, apparently, an Hispanic spouse.]


  1. I guess they just fail to comprehend that Liberia is not the United States of America, it's a whole different country and culture. I believe this is called "cognitive dissonance".

    Good article, Matthew. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Don, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on it. I was, in a sense, playing dumb on Officer Gray's Liberia comparison. I was trying to get him to directly state what he obviously wanted to say, but seemed afraid to. Imagine if I had said, "So you're telling me that black people screw things up and white people don't." I'm pretty sure he would have responded, "I didn't say that, those are your words. I just said look at Liberia." Cheers.