THE BLOG

By The Color Of Their Skins

09/20/2007 02:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I had the local Fox affiliate's morning show on as I got ready for work this morning, and they made a brief mention of the Jena 6 rally in Louisiana today. They said participants were protesting "uneven" treatment by local police, saying it was racial.

"Uneven"? Yeah, I guess you could say that. There was no mention whatsoever of the fact that a black teenager was charged with attempted murder for beating someone with a sneaker in a schoolyard fight, and certainly nothing about the nooses hanging from a tree on school grounds after black kids asked why they couldn't sit there.

And I could just picture those all-American Fox viewers, turning to each other and saying, "There they go again."

You know who "they" are, don't you? Those colored folks. The ones who don't know how to behave.

I was shocked when a Taser incident involving a white college student was given so much attention this week with so little context: Namely, that minorities are unjustly submitted to indignities and even death for specious reasons all the time, and that they are quite familiar with Taser guns.

It's not so important when it happens to black people because of the unspoken assumption most white people are still privileged to hold: "They must have done something to deserve it."

I know better. I grew up in a working-class, blue collar Philadelphia neighborhood. The boys in my neighborhood (including my own brothers) were forever being beaten up by cops; it was a fact of life. I know that whatever rationale the cops claimed, they really beat them up for some variation on the same reason: Because I can and there's nothing you can do about it. "Deserved" it? Yeah, if you can call not being able to read a cop's mind and know just how quick of a hair-trigger he had that minute a crime. Excuse me, officer, but have you gotten laid recently? Any money troubles? Kids okay?

And so white people - people who never had to worry about real-life police brutality - just tune it out. It doesn't seem logical to them, that cops and elected officials would simply treat a black kid differently for no reason other than the color of their skin. After all, they're always so polite to them.

We're still so very far from a world where we're judged on the content of our character and not the color of our skins. But still, it gives me hope to see so many college students from all over the country (including Philadelphia's Temple University) headed to Jena to stand in peaceful protest at today's rally. Kudos to those kids for standing up for their civil rights!

As for me, well, I'm just embarrassed that all these years later, we're still here.