On the one hand, I’m not going to exonerate the officer. It appears, in short, that he lied in his report. He had no business putting his finger in the young man’s chest. On the other hand, there’s a context: (1) “[M]anagers here at the McDonald’s called police asking for helping removing some disruptive people from inside the restaurant.” (2) Something prompted someone to start recording on his or her cell phone.
When we saw this in the day room at the shelter, much conversation rose among the black men around me. First, they complained that “the little hoodlums” have taken over that location. There was discussion about strategies to avoid meeting groups of black teens on the street, and how they’ll never take you one-on-one.
Behold the stereotypes about young black males, and also the reality.
On the one hand, many folk hold being “disruptive” as essential blackness. Does that have to be that way? Who has the power to define, or redefine, blackness?
Who but black folk themselves; albeit the politically correct define black folk as powerless and consequently irresponsible.
On the other hand, there is ample evidence that these activities have nothing to do with being black. Various youth gangs have terrorized England from time to time for centuries, as per these Wikipedia articles: Mohocks; Gangs in the United Kingdom; and Scuttlers. The last includes this passage that I did not expect, which provides food for thought:
By the turn of the century the gangs had all but died out owing to some of the worst slums having been cleared, the setting up of Working Lads’ Clubs (such as Salford Lads Club) to engage the working youths in more peaceful activities, the spread of street football and the advent of the cinema.
One initiative to provide an alternative to gang warfare resulted in the formation of St Marks (West Gorton) Football Club, which later became Manchester City FC. In 1997 the Manchester historian Gary James highlighted that scuttling was the number one unifying activity of young men, and that the creation of St Mark’s Football Club was a very serious attempt at diverting the young men of West Gorton into more worthwhile activities. Anna Connell, perceived by many as the founder of St Mark’s FC, also helped create men’s meetings, a library, and other society improving facilities and clubs.
As a teenager, Ringo Starr belonged to a gang.
[Link to a good obit/bio here.]
In 2005, I heard Leonard Nimoy interviewed on NPR in connection with the release of a volume of his photography, Shekhina. I was much impressed by his religious devotion. “Live long and prosper” is a quintessential Jewish expression, and the Vulcan hand salute gesture is taken from the synagogue service: at the close of worship, the kohenim come to the front of the assembly, face the congregation and extend their arms, making that gesture, while pronouncing the benediction. This event, in turn, is associated with an activity of the Shekhina.
I don’t care, as long as she stays in the headlines.
Originally posted 2015-04-06.