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An Open Letter to Young Black Men From a Black Cop
"On how to have a 'normal' interaction with the police. And by 'normal' I mean not ending in arrest, being shot, tasered, pepper-sprayed or killed."
So begins an open letter from a black cop who identifies himself as "Jack Handy Jr." over on the Sherdog MMA online forum. Jack Handy Jr. has a background in the military, six years in a police force, and a lifetime of being a black American. Safe to say he might know a thing or two about police interactions, both positive and deadly.
Handy begins with appearances, because anyone who's spent any time with their eyes open knows that perceptions are valuable. As humans we judge on what we see, and we judge others by how they're presenting themselves to us both in body language and dress. That's just life.
Not every young black man that has dreads, gold teeth, sagging pants and a bad attitude is a thug. But the problem with this outward projection of other ethnicities is the pre-conceived notion of what a "thug" looks like, and will, in many instances, get you treated like a thug.
Now am I advocating every young black guy start dressing and acting like Steve Urkel (I mean that would help). But that's not realistic. I'd advise any young black guy that'll take the time to read all this that PERCEPTION is REALITY to most of your fellow humans, and a HUGE part of how you are categorized by a stranger...or the police. So my advice is choose your style of dress and your public behavior (act like you got some damn home training and manners)....wisely.
This is, dare I say it, common sense. Outward appearance of style is relevant in how everyone is judged. A young white man with a shaved head, German tattoos, ear piercings and cut off flannel shirt: white supremacist. A man who powders his face white and wears a gray suit like Pee-Wee Herman? Total weird-o. Hillary Clinton wearing that Romulan-styled jacket thing to the Iowan fair...? We're judged on how we present ourselves (sorry Hillary). We all have that power.
Maybe she "accidentally" deleted the email about fashion advice... (image source).
So you young black guys reading this: you need to try and control the urge to cuss at, sass, fight, run from, or assault the police in general when stopped. I know in a perfect world you shouldn't get tazed or arrested for having a pissing contest referring to the poor body language, cursing, or being a smart ass with a cop. But it isn't a perfect world.
If you get into a situation with a cop and you're deemed what we as cops term "un compliant" it is our duty to make you compliant. Depending on the cop, his mood, his level of training, and what you're saying to him, the cop may:
1. De-escalate the situation by taking the "high road" or
2. Go into full alpha mode and make you respect him.
We could just delete the phrase "young black guys reading this" and replace it with "Hey you who got stopped by the cops." Because it's darn good, safe advice for everyone who encounters a police officer. Hey, don't be a smart ass with an officer who has a sworn duty to protect society and themselves and who also packs a 9mm or a .45 and will pull it on you if you threaten them. Just an idea.
Hardy's post is chalk full of this "obvious" advice. There's no question that young black men need to read it. But why? What's gone so wrong in the black community that young black men need to be told not to assault or be a general butthead to a police officer, and thus save him from the possibility of being tasered, pepper-sprayed or shot? Some theories:
- Single motherhood in black families means a lot of black children are growing up without their fathers. Married parents make a huge difference in a child's well-being and future success.
- Liberal policies have diminished the lives of black families.
- Race-baiters like Al Sharpton who've turned negative race-relations into a lucrative industry.
- A historic black president who, instead of seeking to heal, seeks to divide black and white communities.
- Staggering abortion rates. If black lives don't matter in the womb, what kind of message does it send to born black men and women?
Of course if you even hint that maybe, just maybe, any of the above might be a problem in the black community, you're automatically a racist. Progress.
Some great pull quotes from Handy's post:
And to hit on all the "Unarmed" furor of late. We're all MMA fans. That's what initially brought us to Sherdog. I'll assume most of at least train and many have probably jumped in the cage or the ring.
So if you're on these boards even as someone who doesn't train or fight, you know that someone can be knocked unconscious, or beat the f*ck down without needing a gun, bottle, knife, brass knuckles, whatever to do it.
One thing you guys don't know is that almost every police academy, on the first or second day, the instructors show students dash cams and prison video (never released to the public) of cops and corrections officers getting beat down and killed, physically assaulted, their duty weapons taken from them and then assassinated.