Tulsa and The United States of America’s Fear of Black People
Video footage showed Terrance Crutcher, an unarmed black man walking on a road with his hands in the air with police officers following closely behind him, suddenly falling to the ground after one officer pulls the trigger. He was also tased and the police in the helicopters said he looked like a “bad dude.” While the outrage might be real, this is nothing new. A. Moore documents why and how.
Since the days of slavery, the propagation of the myth of the predatory black man has been used to instill fear in all of society and to justify brutality and violence against blacks as individuals and the black community. This narrative has been passed down from generation to generation, and is still used to underwrite injustice against black people. As was said by the Tulsa Police, “he looked like a bad dude” in spite of the fact he was a churchgoing singer enrolled in community college.
This of course dates back to slavery. The enslavement of Africans resulted in a plethora of uprisings, from the Haitian Rebellion to Nat Turner’s rebellion. Since then, whites have developed a pathological fear that oppressed blacks will one day rise up and inflict vengeance upon their oppressors. This is where the idea of the dangerous, predatory black man comes from. Terrence Crutcher was big and black. In Tulsa, Ferguson, Baltimore, Staten Island and many other places in the US, that’s enough to label him dangerous and bad.
Of course most of this is just projection. White society accuses blacks of having traits they refuse to acknowledge in themselves – which may also explain why white people fear violence disproportionately from black people. Instead of acknowledging the past and present forms of violence black people have suffered at the hands of whites, it is projected onto the victims themselves.
Killing The Breeze is not big on blaming the media, but historically and presently, the media continues to broadcast daily imagery of black men as dangerously criminal, idle, and unemployable animals using and dealing drugs. This is true despite the reality that white people have, and do, participate in organized crime activities and domestic violence in higher numbers, and that whites comprise more than 70 percent of drug abusers and dealers in our country.
Black bodies remind many whites of terrible crimes from an ugly past that they are unable to own up to because of the belief in blacks as predators along with projection. It’s much easier to deny, shift blame, lie, twist facts and characterize black people as a people to be feared. This is where “What about black on black crime?” comes from as a response when we’re talking about the systematic elimination of black people by the state due to general fear of them.
There are also general societal repercussions for empathizing with minorities. Many whites fear becoming outcasts among white society at large by associating and sympathizing with black folks. Furthermore, as integration and miscegenation become ingrained in society, the very idea of whiteness takes on new meaning in a world that threatens its supremacy or superiority.
Finally, many whites directly benefit from the current plight of black people within our system. At this point in time, that is law enforcement and politicians. This is why it’s virtually impossible to indict police officers for shootings let alone having trials and convictions.
I hope there is justice for Terrence Crutcher’s family, but I seriously doubt it. Fear of black people and justification for what happens to them as a result of that fear is as American as apple pie. The best that can be expected is what happened when slaves were damaged or destroyed. Cash value is put on black lives, and the state will pay out.