At Least He Tells the Truth - The Blake Ashby Podcast

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The Fear of African American Parents

June 27, 2020

The truth is, African American parents do have reason to be more afraid when their children interact with the police. I know, I know, not a shocker, but something we need to say out loud once in a while to make sure everybody remembers.

I believe that our conversation around policing has become distorted and in many ways has painted an unfair portrait of cops.  However the fear of police interactions that African American parents and their children feel has a basis in fact, and our conversation must acknowledge that reality or we will have a hard time making progress on policing. 

As much progress as our society has made, there are still police officers that have different opinions of African Americans and Caucasians. With that difference of opinion as a starting point, it is possible for an officer to interpret the actions of an African American teenager based in part on the officer’s attitude towards African Americans. It is possible for an African American kid stopped by the police to behave perfectly and still have his or her actions interpreted as some kind of disrespect by the police officer. And if an African American kid who acts perfectly can have a bad outcome with the police, then it’s even more true of an African American kid who acts like a teenager.

And that’s what’s so terrifying to African American parents.  Because it means that no matter how good of a job they do in raising their children, no matter how polite and respectful they teach their children to be, if their child is stopped by a cop who distrusts African Americans their child is still at risk.