McKinney: Part Two

Today seems heavy and sad. I woke up to more news about McKinney.

Apparently the cops were called to respond to the physical attack against Tatiana Rose. However, when they showed up, they immediately went to work corralling and bullying the black kids who were at the pool. The pool apparently has a rule about how many guests that you can have at a given time. A rule that Tatiana’s mother says is never enforced, except, apparently, when black kids show up. The pool people are also saying now that they never approved the party in the first place. A claim that I find dubious in the extreme.

Brandon Brooks, 15, who shot the video, has since spoken out regarding events as he saw them unfold, saying:

When he pulled his gun my heart dropped. As soon as he pulled out his gun, I thought he was going to shoot that kid. That was very scary… I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening. You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.

I talked yesterday about the privilege of white bodies in a racially charged space. At the time I was under the mistaken impression that the person recording the video was the person speaking up about being related in some way to Adrian, the young man who was hauled into the shot toward the end of the video (and about whom I can find not a single news item or mention). Since Adrian is black, I assumed the videographer was as well. Which was, of course, a foolish assumption. Because I doubt Brooks would have been allowed to continue filming had he not been white.

People are talking about how Cpl Casebolt should have, logically, been on his best behavior since he knew he was being recorded. I don’t know which is the more terrifying conclusion of that train of thought: That Casebolt was on his best behavior during the events of Friday afternoon, or what might have happened if Brooks had not been there and shooting the entire time.

This whole horrible mess has brought up the painful history of segregation and, specifically, the role that pools have played in that segregation. As pointed out in an article in The Atlantic yesterday:

As African Americans fought for desegregation in the 1950s, public pools became frequent battlefields. In Marshall, Texas, for example, in 1957, a young man backed by the NAACP sued to force the integration of a brand-new swimming pool. When the judge made it clear the city would lose, citizens voted 1,758-89 to have the city sell all of its recreational facilities rather than integrate them. The pool was sold to a local Lions’ Club, which was able to operate it as a whites-only private facility.

People are trying to argue that what happened on Friday isn’t about race. There are even black people from McKinney making that argument, saying that their neighborhood is an integrated one and that they have never had trouble with their neighbors. Far be it for me to tell someone from a marginalized community that they are wrong about their experiences. I am glad beyond words that those people feel safe and comfortable within their communities.

That said, I want to challenge the assumption that a community that treats it’s black residents well can not suffer from the impact of racism. Just because a community is not putting on white hoods and trying to run you out of town with burning crosses does not mean that an isolated incident within that community is devoid of racism. I am so happy for residents of the Craig Ranch community that they do not experience racialized violence or aggression in their everyday life. But I do not believe that anyone could reasonably look at the reaction of those officers on Friday and say that it does not have something to do with race. Or at the actions of grown white women throwing racial slurs at a teenage girl. Or at the authorities of the pool who manage to overlook the guest rule until the population of the pool becomes too black for their comfort.

Increasingly, we live in a world of racism with no racists. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, who’s written a book by that title, says:

“The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits. The more we assume that the problem of racism is limited to the Klan, the birthers, the tea party or to the Republican Party, the less we understand that racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.”

We tend to think of racism as having something to do with the words that people say. But many people nowadays know that it’s not acceptable to say the “n-word” or to vocally discriminate based on the color of someone’s skin. Of course, actions speak louder than words, and in the case of racism the actions that are continually taken against people of color have not gone away entirely, they have merely gotten less obvious to white people.

Racism is by no means dead, it simply hides in microagressions and in discriminatory policies enacted every day while white people protest that they can’t be racist because they “can’t see race” – thus obliterating the heritage of the people around them – or that they “have black friends” – as if their friends are a trophy or a badge of honor that put them above such things as racial profiling.

When a bunch of black children are violently suppressed at an end of year pool party, when they have guns pulled on them merely for being in a place, when they are told to “go back to their section 8 housing,” there is no word for that type of behavior other than racist.