5 fired Memphis police officers charged with murder in death of Black man following traffic stop | CBC News | Opinion

Five former Memphis, Tenn., police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in the arrest and death of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers, who are also Black, during a traffic stop.

Tyre Nichols, who died in a hospital on Jan. 10, 2023, is seen in this undated picture obtained from social media, via CBC | Pinterest
Tyre Nichols, who died in a hospital on Jan. 10, 2023, is seen in this undated picture obtained from social media, via CBC | Pinterest

Source: 5 fired Memphis police officers charged with murder in death of Black man following traffic stop | CBC News


If you saw the horrific footage of this beating on TV or online, you’ll probably ask why such a thing could happen.

Racism can be internalized

Van Jones at CNN suggests that racism can be internalized, so even blacks can feel inferior and tend to see other blacks as potential criminals instead of as human beings deserving dignity and respect. This is an American view coming from an American person of color.

Not all Americans would agree with Van Jones, however. Tucker Carlson at FOX glibly dismissed this idea last night, confirming my view that sometimes Carlson is on the money but other times a very narrow, simplistic thinker (unless his whole show is just another money-making ‘infotainment’ venture with a specific target audience, which would make him ‘smart’ at dumbing things down).

From a Canadian standpoint, it seems Jones has a valid perspective but the phenomenon of racism is usually a bit more complicated than that.

Racism can go in all directions

Racism tends to go in all directions. Not only so-called whites are racist. It seems people of any color can believe they are best. Whites arguably get most of the attention because, well, North American society was primarily engineered, managed, and dominated by whites for so long.

Today, it seems some persons of color around the globe are oblivious or won’t admit to their inherent racism. Others haven’t even developed the concept of racism.

It’s only whites who are racists, right?

Ha. Take a look at the scene in India, where lighter-skinned Indians are sometimes deemed superior to darker-skinned Indians. I could mention persons of other colors where I have experienced anti-white racism. But I don’t want to make this a rant. I just want to point out my observations and distinct impressions that racism indeed can go in all directions.

Racism can be mingled with sexism, ageism, elitism, and other perceived factors like “cool,” wealth, beauty, or style

Sometimes racism is mingled with sexism, ageism, and other visible attributes. So a young woman with Asian ancestry working behind the counter at a store, for example, might be unfriendly bordering on rude to a middle-aged white male but overtly pleasant with a young, stylish white woman who’s next in line. This actually happened last night while shopping. I didn’t like it but figured the sexism-ageism-racism-stylism complex was her problem, not mine, so I moved on.

Internalization and mental health

Van Jones’ idea of internalization can also be applied, I would argue, to the area of mental health. Instead of questioning psychiatric diagnoses, some people and patients just blindly accept that worldview. So a person might say “I am a [whatever label]” or “I suffer from {whatever label].” The sad part here is that some of these people never step back and transcend the limits of a psychiatric approach and may continue to play the role of “good patient” instead of “free person.” Meanwhile, their friends and families may persist in seeing them in terms of crude and degrading caricatures based on scientism instead of full and equal human beings.

Racism and the desire to return to one’s true self

Another possibility is that on some level the cops actually wanted to get caught. I mean, what kind of person would violently beat up a suspect when your colleague is wearing a body cam? And wouldn’t a street cop know about street cams?

Both body and street cams were present and give public evidence against the cops charged with murder.

The other day I talked about how some criminals trapped in Jean-Paul Sartres‘s concept of “bad faith” might actually want to get caught. Some folks shy away from this idea but I think it’s occasionally true. Sometimes demented or disturbed individuals want to go clean and get back to their real, authentic selves and the only way they can do this is to get caught committing a crime. However, they play this drama out unconsciously because their minds are so occluded by the compromises they’ve made, either willingly or through coercion (say, with children born with or adopted by criminal parents).

What do you think?

It’s a sad state of affairs but not talking about and repressing real problems won’t help to find solutions.



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