With so much turmoil going on in this country regarding police violence and the ensuing protests and now the ambush and murder of two NY police officers, I am compelled to comment on one aspect of this hightly controversial subject. I have heard many African American mothers and fathers stating that it is unfair that because they are African American that they have to have talks with their sons about how to behave around the police. “We have to tell our children to be afraid and do everything they say no matter what, we have to tell them what NOT to wear since they are racially profiled and many times, unjustly and unfairly treated. White police are tarteging and murdering our black children!”
In some cases, that is true. No one deserves to be unjustly assaulted, attacked or killed by an overzealous police officer. However, the other side of that coin is this. No police officer deserves to be killed or disrespected when giving direction on what it is they are requesting you do. If an officer asks you to get out of the middle of the road, maybe, just maybe, you should get the out of the middle of the road. These officer’s put their lives on the line EVERY SINGLE DAY. We need them as a society just as we need the judicial system, jail, prisons, rehabilitation and the basic need for consequences for our actions.
I am so sick of seeing the police in this country all being lumped into one category of abusive, aggressive, racist ‘pigs’ and the criminals now being showcased as upstanding, completely innocent, annointed angels! Don’t get your panties in a wad. I am in agreement that in some cases, the police were wrong and that the need for reform is there. But this is not always the case nor do I think it is the status quo. A lot of kids out there today are punks, punks of EVERY race and derserve exactly what they get, meaning, to be subdued, handcuffed and arrested. Oh, and perhaps all races should think twice about brandishing a firearm while standing only a few feet from an officer. WHERE IS COMMON SENSE??? WHY IS THIS OK? It is easy for us to sit back and say, “Why? Why did that officer shoot? The kid was putting the weapon down!” We are talking about split second decisions having to be made. An officer comes around a corner, a kid is brandishing a firearm, pointing it at random people in a public place and there is one second, maybe two for an officer to determine if this person is an imminent threat to his life and others and chances are pretty damn good that if you are waving a rifle around in the air when you come around a corner, you’re going to get shot.
When my boys were growing up and starting into the adolescent stage of rebellion, irresponsibility, disrespect and just being jack wagons in general, our house was graced one evening with a song, blaring at 1000 decibels called Cop Killer by a group called Body Count.
We were a house of many music genres. It wasn’t unusual to see someone hurling a school book or toy across the floor in total disagreement of the music selection for the night but we tried to teach our children to listen to many different kinds of music and to respect the rights of others in the house. My husband and I were from the hippie era and although we didn’t realize it at the time, had THE BEST of everything music!! Blues, rock, soul, Motown, funk, heavy metal and that is just the very tip of the iceberg so there was lots to choose from. My husband and I, (well, not so much the husband) in order to practice what we preached, tried to teach our children respect and tolerance for the choices others made and reminded them that their turn would come again to be the “chooser of music” for the night.
The night of “Cop Killer” was a game changer. Rap was one thing but “gangsta” rap was quite another and our children were definitely not old enough to understand the impact music can have on their attitude and behavior. My eldest son was becoming rebellious and insisted that Cop Killer was just as important as any other song. He argued that this music was by and for people who felt oppressed, unheard in society and were only seeking an outlet to tell their story and voice their opinions. “I hate ‘pigs’ and they can all get fucked!” he spat out venemously. My husband was no fan of the police either having had several run ins with them in his youth. He looked over at me as if to say, “Hey, this one is all yours, babycakes!” After supressing the urge to come across the table and knock this 13 year old punk on his ass, I remained calm and explained that as parents, it was our job to decide where the “line” had to be drawn. We were not going to tolerate the advocacy of violence toward other human beings, the degradation of women and advocate murdring the police or the disrespectful term ‘pigs’. I knew my son would, at some point, have interactions with the police, the writing was already on the wall…in dark, bold font!
Here’s a reminder of some of the lyrics of Cop Killer:
I got my black shirt on.
I got my black gloves on.
I got my ski mask on.
This shit’s been too long.
I got my twelve gauge sawed off.
I got my headlights turned off.
I’m ’bout to bust some shots off.
I’m ’bout to dust some cops off.
Cop killer, better you than me.
Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your family’s grievin’
Cop killer, but tonight we get even.
I got my brain on hype.
Tonight’ll be your night.
I got this long-assed knife,
and your neck looks just right.
My adrenaline’s pumpin’.
I got my stereo bumpin’.
I’m ’bout to kill me somethin’
A pig stopped me for nuthin’!
Cop killer, better you than me.
Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your mama’s grievin’
Cop killer, but tonight we get even.
I don’t agree with this song but we have a thing in this country called freedom of speech. I get that. Do I have the right and responsibility to make sure my children, after having heard it, understand what this song is about and why I will never allow it to be heard in our home? YES!! Damn, be a parent! Does this mean your child will never get in trouble, break a law or never be arrested? Of course not. But, I, as a parent, have to do all I can to listen to why my son thought this song was ok, why he thought this song was relevant and that he understood the other side of the subject. I asked him who he thought he would call in a situation that was life threatening? Ghost Busters? I don’t think so. Who would he call if he walked in the door of our home and saw his mother being assaulted by someone? Yeah, that’s what I thought, son. The fucking pigs! He had no comment.
I am here to tell you that my husband and I had the exact same conversation with our children as these African American parents protest they HAVE to have with theirs. We aren’t black, we are white. However, we had two boys that were in the teen years and you best believe we had that talk. “You will answer ‘yes sir, no sir’ and do what you are told. If an officer tells you to sit, you sit. If he tells you to stand still, stand still. Do what he says, he is in charge! You do as your told and if you feel you have been treated unfairly, you will have your chance to tell a judge that. We also advised them that were they ever to be thrown into an interrogation room that they were to say only four words …I want a lawyer. That’s it, no debate.
We also told them, “Pull your damn pants up because the next time I catch you with them sagging down below your ass, you won’t be sitting on that ass for quite a while without it being extremely painful. NO, you cannot wear a T-shirt that says, FUCK THE POLICE, NO, you are not playing Grand Theft Auto and NO, you cannot listen to gansta rap! What you wear reflects who you are whether that is right or wrong it’s a fact, learn it now, son, it’s one of the most valuable lessons you will ever learn!” Yeah, we are White! So what! Every parent of every race should teach these lessons to their children so why am I to be sympathetic for Black parents having to talk to their sons about respect, fear and what NOT to wear? Please.
When did it become ok to NOT do what the police tell you to do? Yes, I get that sometimes the police are wrong and that they overstep their bounds but I am talking about the tens of thousands of police officers that are out there doing their job and protecting our rights and defending our communities and keeping them safe. Why is this only a “black” conversation? ALL parents should be having this conversation with their sons and daughters. When did it become ok to completely disregard what an officer tells you? When did it become ok to be disrespectful and noncompliant when asked to get out of the road or to stop doing whatever illegal behavior has brought their attention to you in the first place?
Where are the ‘always at the ready camera loving’ civil rights leaders now in the face of the chants, “What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Now!” Why are they not front and center now? They are silent because if it isn’t a race issue, they shut their cowardly traps! If this situation of police being murdered and questionable and brutal police brutality isn’t a civil rights issue, I don’t know what is.
I do not condone excessive force by police on anyone, no matter what their race. Are there cops out there that are self aggrandized, overly aggressive idiots? Is there blatant disregard of human dignity and racial profiling? Of course. Do I think that’s ok? NO! But do I think that these police ONLY target black young men and are never overly aggressive and out of bounds with other races? NO. Trust me, my son had run ins with the police for three long years and except for a few occasions, my son got EXACTLY what he deserved. Were there a few times the police were unnecessarily forceful and overstepped their bounds? YES! However, had my son complied with what they asked him to do instead of taking off like the Road Runner perhaps he could have avoided those encounters!!
We need police in our society and I tire of seeing video after endless video of abusive policemen. Where are the videos of the millions of interactions between police and citizen’s that are non confrontational, respectful on both sides? You won’t see them, no matter what race the police are and no matter what race the alleged perpatrator is. There are no ratings in it for the news media. If it isn’t antagonistic and provocative, it doesn’t count. The coverage of Michael Brown and Treyvon Martin deserved media coverage, no doubt but so do many other controversial interactions that we will never see.
To twist and contort the facts to imply that either of these kids were nothing but law abiding little angels is ludicrous! I had pictures of my son that would make the angels cry they were so adorable and innocent, even at the age when he was stealing cars and running from police. At that time, he was no angel, he was a criminal deserving of the jail time he got! Again, no wadded panties, please, I am NOT saying police brutality is ok, I am saying it is wrong to portray these criminals as anything other than what they are or were at that particular time in their lives.
Sweeping changes are needed in this country with regard to police/citizen interaction. New training techniques need to be implemented, body cams are a definite necessity to protect the rights of both police and citizen. I agree with all of this. But change must be on both sides. Respect must be given from both sides. Children need to be taught from an early age that certain people are in authority roles in their lives such as teachers and police. Yet, sadly, teachers also struggle with rebellious, entitled and snarky little punks both male and female, Black, White, Latino, Asian, KIDS, because parents have not done their jobs and tolerate their children being disrespectful even to them. Teach your children well. Teach by talking to them. Teach by listening to them. Teach by being an example to them, for this is where they learn, at home from their first teachers, their parents.
There are always two sides to a story and Ferguson and Chicago, NY and any city you want to throw in the mix is no different. There are good and bad people, there are good and bad police, there are good and bad teachers and there are good and bad parents. This is not a race issue, at least it shouldn’t be. It is a human rights issue and keep in mind always that the police have rights as well. They have the right to protect themselves if they feel their life is in imminent danger. They have the right to be treated with respect. They are the only thing that stands between law abiding citizens and total chaos in our communities. The same people calling ALL police “killers” are the same people who will be calling 911 the minute they need help!
This discussion has got to stop being only about white police and black citizens . It is much bigger than that. It all starts at home and for us, the first red flag waved when the song Cop Killer rang through our home. I get it, I get rap, I even like a lot of it but children are easily influenced and some are exposed to things they are not possibly capable of understanding at certain ages and isn’t that what we as parents are supposed to do? Determine their level of understanding and do as much as we can to either remove the music, video game, movie or whatever medium it is that is inappropriate for that child’s age OR if they are at an age where a discussion can take place that they can understand and take part in, is it not our job to open that dialogue?
Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, it makes no difference the race. What makes the difference is the dialogue and teaching our children right from wrong, respect from disrespect and the proper way to voice their opinion and to take direction when necessary. Why is this no longer happening? Why are these complex subjects left to our children to figure out on their own? Why even bother feeding and clothing them or sending them to school if you are not even willing to listen to them? Why are they afraid? Why won’t they listen to a teacher or police officer? What happened to make them feel this way? Was it an actual interaction? Was it something they saw, read or heard about from a friend? Were they parroting what they hear their parents say and do? Perhaps it is the video games full of nothing but murder and mayhem they play every free moment of their time? Maybe the music they listen to or groups they belong to on social media. Who knows, right? YOU should know, YOU are their parent. If you do not monitor what your children are doing all those long hours they are in their room on their computers, who will? I’ll tell you who will. Terrorist groups, hate groups, predators and any person or group that realizes your child is unsupervised and allowed to surf the web for hours, day after day with no supervision. They will be the one’s giving your children the ear the are craving, they are the one’s who will provide your children with a sense of belonging and family! Why did you have children if you don’t want them involved in your lives? It’s like getting a dog and just leaving it outside, unattended, untrained and other than giving it food and water, leaving it abandoned to fall into the hands of fate.
I realize the media, liberal and conservative, is all about the ratings. Never a balanced newscast. They only show the negative, never the positive, they incite, they instill fear, they foster hate and it is all for the almighty dollar. Our children are exposed to so much more stimuli and information than we ever were when I was a young girl. However, the role of parent remains the same. Teach. Honor. Respect. Listen. Talk. If your children develop a respect for you as a parent, they will listen and they will listen because they know you will listen to them in return. They will take those lessons learned with them when they are out on their own or they are confronted by a teacher or the police. They will give respect and they will receive respect. Many times the best thing you can tell your child is NO!! NO!! NO!!
It’s YOUR job to teach them these lessons. It is NOT the job of the teacher nor is it the job of the police. Stop blaming everyone under the sun other than yourself. You are their first caregivers, nurturers, disciplinarians and story tellers. Do your job so others can do theirs when the time comes.
Teach your children well…..