(Todd A. Smith)
What happened to Ryan Coogler in January scares the you know what out of many Black people, male or female, young or old.
Although things did not escalate, simple misunderstandings or downright profiling can lead to catastrophe for Black people.
Police in Atlanta detained filmmaker Ryan Coogler of “Black Panther,” “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station” fame after a pregnant Black female teller at Bank of America mistook the film director for a bank robber.
Ryan Coogler entered the Bank of America in Atlanta, where he is currently in town filming “Black Panther 2” with sunglasses and a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
On the back of the bank withdrawal slip, he wrote that he wanted to withdraw $12,000 from his own bank account.
However, he wanted the teller to count the money in the back of the bank because he wanted to be discreet like many rich and famous people want.
After consulting with a branch bank superior, Bank of America alerted the authorities of a possible bank robbery.
The police detained Ryan Coogler and two individuals waiting for him in a nearby automobile.
While the incident ended as well as it could have, considering the misunderstanding and the fact that police officers drew guns on Ryan Coogler, Black people often fear being in a similar situation, and it not ending well.
I once told a White colleague on a Houston AM radio station that I did not want to participate in a prank at a Starbucks because if things went bad, which they would have, and police showed up, there would be a huge possibility that police would have acted more aggressively towards me than him.
The police might not have cared if it was just a joke, intended to go viral on social media.
The police might not have cared that my White colleague concocted the entire situation himself.
As a Black man, I fear that any encounter with a police officer could go deadly whether I comply, act professionally or act in a respectful manner.
To some, all they see is my skin color and whatever stereotype that they have about people with that stereotype.
Just last month, I appeared on “Isiah Factor Uncensored” on Fox 26 Houston and Fox Soul to talk about police officers getting aggressive and handcuffing a Black middle school student fighting a White-looking Latino high school student at a New Jersey mall.
The Latino student was ushered away from the fight and sat on a mall seat, while his Black counterpart got physically detained by the police officer, never mind the fact that the Latino boy seemed to be the aggressor and told the cops that he should get handcuffed too because he was just as guilty.
But unfortunately, it seems for many Black people, the benefit of the doubt is something as mythical as Big Foot.
It only exists in the minds of people willing to believe that nonsense.
While Ryan Coogler’s situation might not be summed up from a pure racial standpoint because the teller was Black, race still could have played a big factor.
Many Black people can attest to getting treated with more suspicion from Black people than from people of other races.
Because of self-hate, many Black people have bought into the lies and stereotypes that many White people have towards us.
Back in slavery, often another Black person would snitch to the slave master about possible escape or rebellion plans.
During the Civil Rights Movement, many Black organizations got infiltrated by Black people doing the work of the enemy, also known as law enforcement agencies like J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.
So, the fact that the teller was Black might not explain away prejudice and bigotry.
Let’s face facts, many Black people might not believe a young brother like Ryan Coogler could withdraw a sum like $12,000 legitimately.
Furthermore, what about her superiors at Bank of America?
Could they have asked for ID before alerting authorities?
Could they have asked Ryan Coogler to remove his mask while looking at that ID?
Could they have used reading comprehension skills taught in elementary school and discovered that the note specifically stated that he wanted the money from “my account.”
Thankfully, all is well that ended well.
But it is unconscionable to think what could have happened if things did not go well.
While I am always one to call out police brutality, racial profiling and the like, thank God that these police officers apparently did their job the correct way despite the guns involved.
That’s all many Black folks have asked for since the creation of modern-day policing.
But this incident involving Ryan Coogler should serve as a wakeup call for those naysayers who believe that once a Black person reaches wealth and fame, they do not have to put up with life and death situations because of skin color.
I truly believe that wealthy Black people endure more racism than poor Black people because bigots expect Black people to be poor and unsuccessful.
I do not believe that racists get upset by seeing Black people on welfare and living in the housing projects.
However, I truly believe that racists do become incensed to see Black people driving cars that they cannot afford, living in zip codes where they cannot afford to purchase a home, sending their children to expensive and elite private schools and vacationing in the most exotic locations.
That type of Black excellence would make any bigot upset.
And it might lead them to think that those brothers and sisters must be up to something nefarious and criminal.
That belief is scary as you know what.