This writer doesn’t often agree with the Rev. Al Sharpton on anything, including the firebrand’s approach to solving the nation’s racial problems.
But in the case of the brutal, deadly beating of Tyre Nichols by five Black Memphis police officers, I agree with him when he said that these Black cops would not have assaulted a white man the way they attacked Nichols.
The police violence was aided and abetted by the Memphis Fire Department, whose responding team included two Blacks, one of whom was a Black female lieutenant.
They were also rightly fired.
I also believe that the muted response and relative lack of violence in major cities following the release of the beatings’ violent video were because the cops were Black and not white.
If five white policemen had done what these Black cops did to Nichols, all racial hell would have broken loose — not only in Memphis but in cities throughout the nation.
A muted reaction
We did not witness the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa-inspired violence that occurred around the country after the George Floyd death by a white police officer.
The reaction was muted.
This writer has often written in this space that the only Black outrage against the killing of Blacks is when the perpetrator is white, and the victim is Black.
The death of Tyre Nichols by the fists, feet, and batons of Black officers — and the firing of the Black paramedic and Black female fire lieutenant as noted above — should once and for all bury the myth that having Black cops, supervisors, or even a Black Chief, alone, is a panacea for providing equal treatment and ending racial insensitivities in law enforcement.
As Sharpton accurately stated in his eulogy at Nichols’ funeral services: “There’s nothing more insulting and offensive to those of us that fight to open doors that you walk through those doors and act like the folks we had to fight for to get you through them doors.”
He went on to say: “You didn’t get on the police department by yourself. The police chief didn’t get there by herself. People had to march and go to jail and some lost their lives to open the doors for you and how dare you act like that sacrifice was for nothing.”
The myth regarding police does not just apply to law enforcement.
It’s a pervasive illusion that comforts many in the Black and white political establishment— just put a Black in charge, and racial and other social issues will be addressed and resolved.
The truth is that having a Black in such positions often means that the white business and political leadership — like Pontius Pilot — can wash their hands and not be held accountable for poor conditions impacting Blacks in their communities.
Off the record, many say to their white colleagues:
“Hey, they can’t blame us for these problems — Blacks are running the show.”
Has having Blacks in critical positions as mayors, city and county commissioners, council members and prosecutors in major cities such as Chicago and New York led to a decrease in crime and brought better living conditions to Black residents in those cities?
Has having Black superintendents of schools in major cities led to improved reading, writing, and mathematics skills for Black students?
Will Sharpton expand his criticism and comments to include demanding accountability from Black leadership beyond law enforcement?
It’s time for Black voters and the Black and white media to start holding Black elected officials accountable as they would white officials in the same positions.
And it’s time for Black political leaders to stop insulting Black voters by blaming their failure to produce for their constituents on “systemic racism.”
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations and training consulting firm in Florida. He is the author of “How Obama Failed Black America and How Trump Is Helping It.”
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