A Poor White Woman’s Perspective on Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO
I am here to tell you that cops are people. They read and watch the same news the rest of us read and watch. They hear and read the same media slams on poor people. We’re lazy. We all sell or do drugs. If we would have made better life choices, we wouldn’t be where we are. We’re unintelligent. Food Stamps are supposed to be a supplement to our income. If McDonald’s is the only job we could get, we shouldn’t expect to get living wages for a low skilled job.
And judging by the videos I’ve been watching lately of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, I get the feeling the calculated and purposeful put downs of poor people has been going on for at least decades or maybe even longer.
I have been a victim of being bullied by a cop. TWICE. In both incidents, I committed no crime. For fucks sakes, the only trouble I’ve ever been in was a detention in 11th grade for tardiness, a citation in an accident, and a speeding ticket. I am not anyone who is trying to hide illegal activity. But you better believe when the State Highway Patrol asked me where I was going, I told him it was none of his business. If I was black and said that, I know I would have been arrested, my car probably searched and a simple speeding ticket would have been blown up out of proportion because I gave the cop an “attitude”. The cops came and tested a shot spotter system at 10:30-11:00pm on a school night in our neighborhood last year by shooting bullets into a truck of sand and threatened residents with arrest for messing with official police business. I surveyed all residents in the area a few nights before I went to City Council and complained and only a handful on one particular street that is the one bright spot of middle classism were told they were about to conduct the test. The rest of us perceived by our housing to be poor weren’t told jack shit. So yes, as a person who has been poor for about 6 years now, I have directly observed how cops have a disdain for poor people in general.
However, if you think being poor and white is bad, it is NOTHING compared to being poor and black.
One night I called the cops because this black dude was yelling drunk in the street about “Just shoot me! Just shoot me! Fuck you, n****!” I had no idea what was going on, but obviously somebody ELSE had a gun. I knew it was out because somebody else was talking about not pointing the pistol at him. Even though he’s drunk, I’m fearing for his life. I don’t want somebody dying on the streets of my neighborhood. The cops come immediately since I mentioned a gun. The person who supposedly had a gun is white. Instead of the cops finding out who had a gun, they arrest the black guy. He was released within hours because he committed no crime. Even drunk, he knew exactly how to react to the cops to not get killed that night. When you live in inner city Canton, OH, you learn that shit.
When you are an intelligent poor person who is simply surviving a rough economy, you learn to observe everything. You see the world in a different light. No longer does everyone look at you with a respectful eye as a fellow upstanding citizen. And its even worse if you’re black. I’ve seen it in grocery stores, in my street, the way cops handle situations in this poor section of the city. And for all the opinions white people seem to have about Ferguson, MO and Michael Brown, all I know is that I see a place better than Canton, OH since they have a lower crime rate than us, and yet because they are 70% black with a poverty rate of over 20% now, those people face the discrimination of being black and poor every…..fucking….day…..of…..their…..lives.
Yes. Cops are people too. Its too bad their training does not include diffusing situations and psychology. Its too bad they don’t learn to treat all people as equals. Its too bad some of them get a hard on when they abuse their authority.
I understand this isn’t everyone’s experience or observation. I understand cops have a tough job. They are under high stress, the adrenal glands are always on high output… and quite frankly that’s not a healthy way to live.
But that does not excuse a teenager being shot 6 fucking times for jaywalking. Attitude or not – the cop escalated the situation. He is a person. An arm of authority. The way I see it, he didn’t like the attitude he was given. No, Darren Wilson did not start work that day intending to murder somebody. But he did. And all the messages he’s been given his whole life about poor people and black people played into his interaction with Michael Brown that day. Black people have known it their entire lives and for generations. Some poor white people are awake to what that means, but still not on the same level.
The protests are against a system that has been discriminating and bullying the people of color in that community for a very long time. Michael Brown was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.
You may have heard that respect is a two way street. You have to give it to get it. Cops have been demanding respect from all citizens while they get to treat us however the fuck they please.
I think its about time that changes.
In communities that require cops to have cameras, police complaints have gone down by 88%.
It’s time for all cops to have cameras and its time for people to shut off their TVs and stop believing what the media says about black people and poor people. And if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the media portrayal of the poor and minorities, then this blog will be lost on you. The propaganda machine is in full swing to keep us fighting amongst ourselves. Are you going to continue to defend the system? Or are you going to wake up and be a part of change?
About Jack LadouskasMy quest in life is to look back at the end of it and accomplish two things: 1) be happy with how I lived it and 2) make a positive impact in the world. This blog is a little slice of both. I hope you enjoy it.
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