Pitts is no Chicken Little, and he’s often written about the need for the black community to stop making excuses and start taking responsibility. But in this column facts trump preaching to the choir. Just one tidbit:
“… blacks and whites use drugs at roughly equal rate in percentage terms. In terms of raw numbers, WHITES are far and away the biggest users – and dealers – of illegal drugs. So why aren’t cops kicking THEIR doors in? Why aren’t THEIR sons pulled over a dozen times in nine months?
While it is convenient to think that we are a post-racist society (we’ve got a bi-racial president, after all), it is also woefully ignorant of what happens out there on the mean streets on a daily bases. If you doubt that, just talk to any black mother about how she and her sons are followed by security guards when they go shopping at Dillard’s – and think back to if that ever happened to you or your whites sons.
I’m not black, so I can’t speak to this with as much street cred as Pitts can. I am, however, someone who raised four children in a paycheck-to-paycheck, no-extras existence for a number of years. From that experience I learned that people in the poor parts of town frequently get treated differently than people in the wealthier parts of town. Worse still, people who look poor but happen to live in upper middle class neighborhoods get treated differently than people who look like they “belong.”
The best example of this came when one of our sons, then a junior in college, was driving a small, black, not-in-the-best-shape car through Oro Valley. His hair was wild and long, and his face covered in a scraggly beard and, as I recall, he as wearing the uniform of many NAU students – baggy, raggedy jeans and a t-shirt. He was stopped for a minor driving offense (I think it was changing lanes without signaling), but when the cop got through with him, he was cited for five separate offenses.
He was none too happy about it, and I gave him the typical parental grilling to figure out why on earth a police officer would come up with a citation that had five moving offenses on it: Did you smart mouth the officer? Did you disrespect in any way? Did you look him in the eye? No, no, and yes. So we went to court and the judge took one look at the citation and said our son must have caught the cop on a really bad day. After talking to him, the judge dropped four of the five charges, chuckling about an equation like this: cranky cop + scraggly college kid in dirty car = someone getting pulled over in Oro Valley who would have been given a pass had he not looked like a hippie or had been driving a nicer car.
So, if a white kid can get stopped for little more than looking like he doesn’t belong in the neighborhood through whch he was driving, you can bet your next paycheck that black and hispanic kids are stopped all the more (and with SB 1070, this stopping of hispanic kids will get even greater). It is racist, it is unethical, it is immoral, it is sinful, it is flat out wrong. If you want to have proof of it happening, read “The New Jim Crow.” If you want to have proof that it is wrong, read the Constitution.