Perception Becomes Reality
Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Sean Bell among others never had a chance.
Not because they actually did something wrong or something right but because of the fact that their color is often perceived as wrong, threatening, menacing or violent while the same actions by their counterparts of other races are not seen in the same light.
The stereotyping of Black men like Michael Brown is the cause of the senseless killings by overzealous police officers and citizens, riots and unfair sentencing that Black men face.
While voting, sitting on juries and peacefully protesting should be the way we handle miscarriages of justices, until America (Black, White, Red and Yellow) accepts our physical differences without resorting to stereotyping and downright racism, senseless killings will continue to be the norm in our society.
According to CNN.com, on July 20, 2012, James Holmes, a 24-year-old White man, allegedly opened fire in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.
CNN reported, “Police say he used an AR-15 rifle, a 12-guage shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns police recovered at the scene.”
Nevertheless, Homes was allowed to peacefully surrender outside of the theater with no violent exchange from police officers.
However, on Aug. 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black male from Ferguson, Mo. allegedly stole a box of Swisher Sweets cigars from a local convenient store.
On his way home, Officer Darren Wilson approached Brown and a friend for walking in the middle of the street.
Allegedly a tussle broke out between Brown and Wilson, resulting in Michael Brown being shot eight times and killed.
Although Brown could have handled the situation better if the allegations of him charging Wilson are true, he was only an 18-year-old young man, and unarmed Black males should not be perceived as more of a threat than an older White man who allegedly tried to kill over 60 people.
Likewise, in September, Omar J. Gonzales, 42 and Latino, scaled the fence of the White House mere minutes after President Barack Obama and his family left for Camp David.
Despite numerous attempts to get him to stop, Gonzales was able to make it into the White House before being arrested.
According to a Washington Post article on Sept. 19, “The official said that at least part of the reason that the man managed to get so far was that he did not appear to be armed or carrying anything. In addition, the official said, first family members were not inside.”
Nevertheless, a Washington Post article from Sept. 22 stated that Gonzales, who is suffering from post-traumatic stress, was carrying a deadly weapon when arrested.
Furthermore, family and friends said that he was known to keep a .45 on him at all times, among other weapons.
However, on Oct. 3, 2013, Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn. led Secret Service agents on a high speed chase by the White House.
During the chase, Carey, who is Black, rammed several law enforcement vehicles and even struck a Secret Service agent.
The unarmed mother suffering from post partum depression, who had her 1-year-old daughter in the car also tried to ram the gates of the White House with her Infiniti. As a result, she was shot and killed by Secret Service and Capitol Hill police.
Lastly, according to Syracuse.com, “A celebration in San Francisco’s streets over the Giants’ World Series victory turned raucous and violent in some areas with people injured by gunfire, officers hurt by bottles thrown by revelers, and police making arrests.”
Despite the danger of the San Francisco riots after the 2014 World Series, I recall very little coverage of it on cable news.
However, when the citizens of Ferguson rioted after Michael Brown’s death, some critics like infamous YouTube star Johnathan Gentry labeled the Black rioters as animals like monkeys.
The aforementioned facts prove one thing.
That people of all races do the same things often.
Unfortunately, the reaction to their actions and the consequences that follow are often different depending on race and other factors.
It is time America admits that it has a racism epidemic that is eating at the flesh of its very being.
Often, we stereotype others without realizing that we are doing it.
However, if we do not realize the danger of what we are doing, there will be many more Michael Browns, Trayvon Martins, Jordan Davises and Sean Bells. And if that happens, unfortunately, America will endure many more riotous nights like the night of Nov. 24 in Ferguson, Mo.