Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: King Anyi Howell
As someone who has been a target of racial profiling several times, and was even arrested in front of my home and held in jail over the weekend for fitting the description of a burglar, I'm paying close attention to the White House barley & hops invitational.
I've decided to do a little experiment in the spirit of the beer being downed today by the police officer, the professor, and the president.
It all started the day after my most recent detention, when I put out a Twitter blast expressing my frustration against cops...with language you can't use without a parental advisory sticker.
I didn't expect one of my respondents to be a cop.
We fired charges at each other - him alleging I probably had a rap sheet and didn't pay taxes, and me, saying he probably had a number of citizen complaints on his record.
After a certain point I was tired of the back and forth, and told him I was open to generating a real discussion on the issue, to try and gain mutual enlightenment.
And for me to put out an invitation to sit down with this cop was by some standards, socially unacceptable. Because for many have been racially profiled and consider it to be an institutionalized practice. But so is the "F the police attitude" that many people of color hold about the cops - neither side gives.
Once you've been unduly sidelined by police, you lose trust in them as a provider of enforcement and protection. In fact, if someone breaks into my house, I say, "Damn, what do I do now?"
Citizens don't like to feel like they can't call police, and I'm sure police don't like to feel like folks can't trust them.
No matter what happens over beer at the White House, and no matter the details of what actually happened on Henry Louis Gates' front porch, there's again an opportunity for acknowledgment of divisive problem.
All I can say for my own life is that it's led to a meeting with that cop I had the heated exchange with. I reached out to ask him whether he'd like to sit down for a beverage and he says he's game.
Reaching out to the cop from my Twitter conversation was more about getting over some type of fear - grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak. I want to move past my own insecurities with punk police and try to hear his insights on why police target folks the way they do. Maybe they do it to white people too, I don't know. I'm hoping to find out something I didn't know before.
It usually takes some terribly traumatic experience for people to embrace
change. People watching the Skip Gates incident, both citizens and law enforcement officials, should use this as that opportunity to embrace perspective changing dialogue, instead of waiting for the problem to meet them front porch.
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