Last week a long time patient and friend, a black man in the twilight of his years, shared with me that "it was about time someone popped some caps in a few of 'em". He was referring to the premeditated snipe killing by a black man of five white police officers in Dallas. I was appalled he had this opinion because, Mr. Alvin let's call him, is an educated, skilled tradesman, who once owned his own company and once hired white and black men. He and I have had frank engaging conversations in the past and I always took him as a man who measured his thoughts and emotions quite well.
In so sharing he expressly affirmed these premeditated killings, the apparent avenge killings of two black men by one white officer and one brown officer in two different states.
When I asked him if he or his wife had in recent years been treated unfairly by white folks he answered that they had not.
I wonder how pervasive Mr. Alvin's sentiment is within the black community. I would like to think that among level-headed reasonable thinking people, not very.
But one has to wonder if his sentiment might be a symptom of the media culture we're living in, both main and social, where as a black man, he feels a sort of obligation by way of kinship to sympathize, even though he personally is not experiencing personal racism. I think I can understand the empathy -- an empathy which I think should, and does, flow both ways.
But do we really have serious and pervasive racism in this country? Stokely Carmichael, the civil rights activist, allegedly coined the term "institutional racism" because he was frustrated over moderate whites and uncommitted liberals who felt that the primary purpose of the civil rights movement was white personal transformation. He, and others, were concerned mainly with societal transformation -- the institutional racism that kept black families "locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to daily prey by slumlords, merchants, loan sharks and discriminatory real estate agents." To him, it was this racism that mattered.
I think it's fair to say we don't have institutional racism since every aspect of our social and political institutions have been thoroughly integrated. With respect to individual racism, while this will never go completely away, even this has improved. No lynchings, no bombing of black churches, and no pervasive personal affronts on blacks by whites. In fact, the majority of killings of black men are not by white men, but by other black men.
So why the white-cops-killing-black-men narrative? Perhaps the vying for ratings by Media Elites has something to do with it. But it might just have something to do with attitudinal changes in blacks and whites since the last presidential elections. I've had a VA nurse tell me that since the election of our current president that black aides on her floor intentionally slack off, have an attitude, and she the nurse has no recourse to appeal at the risk of appearing racist. I've also had some white male patients tell me they'll be glad when that "black sonofagun gets out of office." I realize these are two caricatures by way of example but you get my point. Variations of these examples are around.
But where, other than isolated local police departments, do we see, predominately, examples of white people killing black people? Is it me who's living in a bubble? I think it's fair to say that it's primarily in law enforcement where black activists and pundits are saying reform is needed. But is this because of a pervasive display of racism by all local police departments -- by the majority of white cops? I don't think so. But how or why do a miniscule minority of cops of any color, when faced with acute threatening and stressful encounters with black men, most of whom are armed and resisting arrest, end up killing their perpetrator?
At the risk of raising ire, I offer perhaps a reason as to why only certain cops have at times a quick trigger when a quick trigger may not necessarily be needed. Not all black men breaking the law and resisting arrest, are shot and killed -- in the back while running away, or multiple times in the chest while restrained or penned. What marks the difference in the outcomes of these particular officers?
An organism's response to stress is one of the key strategies essential to its survival in dealing with environmental factors. Balanced emotional reaction is important. I suspect there may be an underlying biological factor responsible for these quick draws -- that happens to be benign in the absence of acute threatening stress, but turns malignant consequentially in the presence of it.
I suggest that there's a very small subpopulation of police officers who might have somehow acquired the biochemical ability of releasing too much of the anxiety-inducing hormone CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) and not enough of the fear-reducing hormone, dopamine, to balance it out, during such stressful encounters. Too much CRH and you become perhaps, as a gun-toting officer, Quick Draw McGraw. Whereas a balance of each, CRH and dopamine, and you become a cool, discerning, deliberate and effective man in blue, no matter the encounter. A McGraw so afflicted probably couldn't stop his physical reaction in such threatening circumstances any more than a man could stop his orgasm midway. I admit this is perhaps a cock-a-mamie theory, but one like it or akin to it I think is not too farfetched and deserves a look as an explanation of these very isolated cases.
But, nevertheless, the black community has a crisis. Especially in big cities. Drugs. Violence. The almost total collapse of the family. Poor education. And low participation in the labor force. While not all black communities across the country suffer from these things, neither are any of these things caused by the police. And if the truth be known, there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of black men now living or living longer because there were cops around to engage and remove killers off their streets. Mr. Alvin, a law-abiding and productive citizen, is probably not one of them. A good thing. But it's sad though that he holds the opinion he does -- an opinion he probably mulled over while sitting in the waiting room -- with other blacks and whites.
There's probably always a little room for everyone to improve their relationship with everyone else -- regardless of skin color. But to say we're swimming in an ocean of racism? As for me, I don't buy it.