Media Madness / Political Fix / Real Talk, No Kevin Hart

The Cop and The Ghetto Kid


“Understanding the ghetto kids presents a special problem for the cop.  When a riot breaks out in a high school, the damage is already done and there is little the cop can do besides try to contain the violence.  But if the cop had been sensitive to the history of the problem, the riot might have been avoided…….. The need to learn to meet ghetto kids on their own level – the “ ‘cause why” level.  It is that basic, raw instinctive level of life which seeks honest and open answers to very basic questions.  …’Cause why is that the only time the cops are around? (when we have a party)’  ……When cops learn the conditions of the home environment in the ghetto, they will find out why kids act as they do.  How many cops on the beat have actually seen their mother have an affair with their own daddy, let alone another man?  Or how many cops have seen their mother take a needle and stick it in her arm and get high?  The ghetto kid has seen this.  He has looked at his own mother have an affair with a stranger. …..He has just seen his mother have an affair with a stranger and the cop is going to tell him to be good?  Naturally he will start swinging on the cope because he has to react against something.”  – Dick Gregory – The Shadow That Scares Me

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Its amazing that a book published in 1968 can still be so relevant today.  The proliferation of young people being killed by police or while in police custody is one of many pressing issues in our community.  No matter what side of the fence you fall on in the Kimani Gray situation, it highlights the larger issue of race and law enforcement.  From hoses and dogs being turned loose on protesters to Rodney King to multiple young men committing “suicide” in handcuffs via re-incarnations of Houdini, there has always been tension between black folks and the law man. There is an obvious rift between the black community and law enforcement and most of it is deserved, on both sides!  The violence and low regard for life in our communities erroneously validate the perception law enforcement has about black people.  The extensive history of brutality and excessive force used by cops erroneously validates our disdain for them.  Every incident that shows up in the media picks a scab on festering sore that never quite starts to heal.  Eventually the emotions reach an apex, tension gives and the result is a demonstration of violence and unrest that perpetuates the issues and adversely punishes our community.

The problem is a lack of understanding and training.  Earlier in his book, Dick Gregory goes into detail about the failure to properly train and equip law enforcement officer to adequately serve and protect communities that disproportionately affected by low socio-economic standards.  If law enforcement took a different approach to the way they interacted with our community, we can begin the healing process.  There are fundamental realities that must be accounted for when dealing with

community with whom they share an unfavorable history.  When you have been the face of oppression or at least its legal enforcer, for over 60 years, interactions require a certain amount of sensitivity.  There is no excuse for the egregious misappropriation of power of police officers towards our community nor is there any justification for the reign of terror young people are subjecting our community to either.  What I know is that we are dangerously close to another outburst.  We are growing infinitely closer to the breaking point of both sides, the tension grows thicker by the incident.  If we don’t start to take a proactive stance to address this issue get ready for us to have more in common with the 60’s than a quote from Dick Gregory.

What do you think the issue is between the black community and law enforcement?  Have you had a run in with the law?  how was that experience?  What do you think can be done to start the healing process between cops and the ghetto kid?

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8 thoughts on “The Cop and The Ghetto Kid

  1. I’m just going to give my general two cents on the issue. Personally, I have never had an outstanding bad experience with a police officer beyond a speeding ticket. Maybe because I didn’t grow up in the “hood” or whatever or maybe because I am female. Whatever the reason, I definitely know more black men and growing number of blck females who walk around with the “Fuck the Police” chip on their shoulder. Some may be justified in their feeings but I found that MOST are not. I have friends who have never had one run-in with the police who don’t like them and for what?? I think as a black community, our history has not been good with the police and also mix in the fact that everyone knows someone who has been arrested (innocent or not) we just seem to carry that cultural burden to not trust the cops, etc. What irks me is when a blck person does something wrong and then everyone gets pissed at a cop because of how that person is “handled”. My thing has been, you don’t want to deal with the police then don’t do sh*t to bring them to your door. Of course this excludes the people who have gotten randomly pulled over because they “looked suspicious” based on the car they were driving. Overall, I don’t know what should be done about our position with law enforcement. I just live my life, try to drive the speed limit, catch attitude within reason with officers when writing me a ticket and go on about my business. I hope I never had to have that “chip” on my shoulder that so many of my friends feel that must have.

    • That was a great two cents!! I like that you call out people that hate the police cause its just the cool thing to do. Having been on both the good and bad side of a police interaction, I can attest that right is right and wrong is wrong, it doesn’t matter who is wearing the badge.

      You need to watch that video so you don’t get jacked up having an attitude with the law man cause you were going 87 in 45! lol

  2. Great blog.

    I’ve been in several situations where I felt as if I was being “profiled” due to my skin color and where I happened to be located (driving). I can recall one instance where a state trooper followed me from Waco all the way to south Austin. Every lane change I made, he made. When I slowed down, he would slow down. When I sped up, he would speed up. He didn’t pull me over, but it really made me upset.

    Another time was the infamous “THERE WAS NO FIGHT” party. (If you attended Texas State between 2003 and 2005, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) San Marcos PD came about 20 cars deep to the student center following a party and tazed a few individuals. Although I didn’t get tazed, I was one of the first students taken outside when the “altercation” ensued. I had two lasers pointed at my chest for trying to pull a frat brother away from a possible fist fight. At the time, I couldn’t stand the sight of a police officer and I thought they were all crooked. But as the years progressed, and I matured, I couldn’t put all the blame on the cop for doing what he did. It was a dark and crowded area, and all he could see were several figures “fighting” (more like bear hugging). Since he had no idea who was involved or who started the “altercation” he had to think on his feet and subdue everyone involved in the “bear hugging.”

    Do I think SMPD could have handled the situation better? Sure. Do I think we brought it on ourselves though? Absolutely. When you present a certain attitude towards someone they’re going to meet you with that same attitude. So if you act like Billy badass at a greek party and say “F them *insert org*” well be prepared to meet certain repercussions. That goes for dealing with Police officers. If you act like you have an attitude, are tense, and talk shit to a cop…well guess what? He’s going to treat the situation as if you’re a threat.

  3. This is an excellent video to watch:

    It explains several different situations with police and how to properly deal with them.

    • thanks for the vid Ant. I watched it when i got to the crib and it was really informative. Some of it was common sense stuff that you just don’t think about in pressure situations. I like how my man with the ponytail was talking, lol.

      • No prob. It definitely is a great reminder of how to act in these given situations. And yeah, the puerto rican version of a Pimp Named Slick Back had that smooth delivery throughout the vid lol

  4. Pingback: Even Ghetto-Acting Knuckleheads Do Some Good | myCultural Conversations

  5. Pingback: Little Ghetto Boy: Remembering Robert “Yummy” Sandiford | From Ashy to Classy

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