#PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling Shooting: Why The Institution Of Fear Appears Natural To Black People

#PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling Shooting: Why The Institution Of Fear Appears Natural To Black People

In the wake of happenings with the recent friction between American police force and the Black community, the usual to and fro of contesting analysis

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In the wake of happenings with the recent friction between American police force and the Black community, the usual to and fro of contesting analysis have erupted from well-meaning social commentators to move the general discussion forward. Thus, major thesis on America’s longstanding reality of racial injustice have clouded our timelines.

One of the most shared pieces on the topic is a video in which Black country music artist, Coffey Anderson, with the help of another Black man, attempt a tutorial on how their fellow Black men should ‘behave’ and act so not to irk, scare or provoke White policemen during traffic stops.

My first instinct upon seeing the video was to re-share it on my timeline like I do when I chance on something worth sharing. But I paused for a minute or two and quite coincidentally one of my Whats App group pages brought the video up in a discussion. The general conclusion was a condemnation of the video while confirming its necessity, thus, creating an almost indifferent reception. Now here is why the particular video appears questionable:

First of all the video’s primary audience were Black males or Black people, thereby automatically confirming and affirming that Black males or Black people were actually the problem. Now I totally get the exigency of this video because as Coffey Anderson said, “We just need you to get home.” Considering how Black folks have been stopped for some of the most ridiculous reasons in traffic, this video tutorial still doesn’t address this default association of Black skin with everything negative.

Every society has deviants: White, Black, Brown, Yellow and everything in between, and law enforcers need to recognize and acknowledge that. So this is not a Black male thing, this a problem with Black-White socialization.

Therefore as the women on my forum concluded:

  • Teaching Black kids, teen and adults their normalized place in society is taking us back to the era of slavery where it was simply “Yes Sir,” “No Sir,” days when you couldn’t look straight in the face and eyes of a White man; When you couldn’t demand for proper humane treatment; When you couldn’t speak up for your rights; When you couldn’t ask questions but just obeyed; When you endured punishments without even knowing your crime and; When you had to show signs of fear and trembling in front of the White man.

I have thus far seen how White kids grow – So care free, privileged, provided for, loved and without a worry in their lives. It is unfair for Black kids to grow up in the direct opposite of these where they are constantly being reminded of the problem(s) with their skin. It is unfair for our children to live in fear, uncertainty and under threats especially, from the people supposed to protect them.

Therefore, this video doesn’t lead us to address the underlying issue which is far from the reality of social deviants, but closer to a deep sociological construction of the races. And as one lady simply put it,

It doesn’t address a system that is antagonistic towards Black and brown bodies. Statistically, White men kill cops at a higher rate of about 70%, therefore, it is not black men who are the real threat to cops. America is suffering from a psychosis where they inherently see Black people as a criminal element which is rooted in this country’s racial history. You can do everything right as a Black person and the risk to loosing your life here is still higher.

This video tutorial can also be likened to apologizing after being beaten for a crime you are not even aware of. It is tantamount to the excuses women in abusive relationships make for their abusers: “Maybe if I should have just done the dishes or cleaned the room right then he wouldn’t have had to beat me.” Which in essence is denying the real issues in an abusive partner and relationship.

While I tried to make meaning of the discussion, my thoughts led me to a very accepted system in Black families…

While White families tend to approach child rearing casually with a strong emphasis on Behavioral Correction, Black parents tend to apply a forceful combination of torture, pain, insults, humiliation, cruelty, and toughness in their kids. While this appears almost culturally, I beg to differ.

Slavery around the world lasted for over 250 years. People, these reflect several generations of our forefathers living their lives as objects of trade and commerce, and the relegation of everything inhumane, if historical facts are anything to go by. Now since we didn’t even have the privilege of documentation, life before this gory past is largely unknown. So how we used to discipline kids is long lost and gone with the remainder of our sanity.

The close to 500 years (I stand to be corrected) span of slavery, colonialism and imperialism created a new world order where our forefathers had to forcefully accept their second class citizenship. Isn’t it almost logical for our parents to reinforce the system at home for as we all know, “Charity begins at home.”

If we are not taught the basic principles of survival at home, we might never make it through the system alive because in those days, it really was a matter of life and death: Having the audacity to look at a White man in the eye; Stealing glances at White women; Talking back at your white master; Asking for changes in your people’s inhumane living conditions and so on; have all proven to be dangerous for Black lives throughout history. So for every concerned Black parent, this tends to become the reality and it only makes sense to teach our children this very crucial means of survival.

Realistically speaking, the White kid would never have to experience any of such realities and so it makes no sense for this approach to child rearing to be emphasized in their homes. This is what growing up in a privileged skin means: have birthday parties every single year of your life, being forgiven for your sins, receiving second and third chances for opportunities missed out on, and simply living life like it was meant to be lived.

Unfortunately for us on the other end of the color rule, we have no option than to continue the tradition of bringing up our children in this established system of fear, caution and to constantly be apologizing in advance for coming unto this earth in a color we did not ask for.

A video tutorial might honestly be an immediate exigency but it only sends us back in time to continue the assumptions constructed around our race and most importantly neglect the problem with the ‘system.’

Efe Plange

Efe Plange

Efe Plange is founder and editor of Sankofa Reviews. She holds a Master's degree in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University. She is passionate about the Arts and Cultural industry and her background in the field is fueled by a longstanding dream of seeing theory work together with practice. Connect with Efe on social media.
Efe Plange


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