However, Tatiana and many of her friends who showed up for the party where black. And her subdivision, in a community outside of Dallas called McKinney, is predominantly white. And apparently some of the other residents weren’t so keen on seeing the pool overtaken with teens who didn’t look like they “belong”, despite the fact that many of the teens DID live in the neighborhood. Two white adult females were not shy about verbalizing their discomfort. Witnesses say the women began confronting the teens, using racial slurs and telling them to go back to their Section 8 housing where they belong. The confrontation got physical when Tatiana told the adults they shouldn’t be speaking to children that way. She was attacked by one of the women . . . smacked in the face. Tatiana and her friends called the police for protection from the racist adults. Other adults called the police complaining about their pool being overrun with kids who didn’t belong and that some had jumped the fence. Simultaneously, a security guard begins kicking many of the teens out of the pool area.
Police arrived at the scene, and what happens next is mind-boggling. Rather than addressing the white adults who had both verbally and physically accosted a group of teenagers, or calmly ascertaining which kids had the right to be in the pool area, or consulting with the mother of the children throwing the party, the police began rounding up black children as if they were criminals . . . ordering them to the ground and hand-cuffing them. Many of the teens try explaining themselves. “We were just at a pool party.” Others try to run away – no doubt alarmed at the intensity of the cops who arrived, one of who did a barrel-roll and wielded his gun into a group of kids who appear to be simply walking. You can hear kids screaming “let’s go!” in terror as they run away. And for all of the people who hear this story and chide that it’s their own fault for running, watch the video again. And again. And keep watching it until it sinks in for you that for black people, angry police officers illicit valid and real fear.
If you are white, you have no idea what that feeling is like . . . to feel like the police may not have your best interest in mind.
There were three parts of this video that really struck me. First, was watching the adults have to stand by as they watched this police office take a young woman forcefully to the ground, shove her face repeatedly into the grass, and sit on her. There was nothing they could do . . . no way to protect her. My impulse in that situation would have been to call the police. But what do you do when the police are the ones being violent? I can’t imagine how demoralizing it felt for those adults to feel so much outrage and then to have to stand idly by as this scared girl pleads for someone to get her mom.
I was also struck by the privilege of the white people in the video. The young man who shot the video was white and he has been public in saying that people of color were targeted while white people were left alone. You can see a grown white man inserting himself into the situation. Why was he never asked to step aside? Why was he assumed a safe ally to the police, when young black men who approached the scene were chased off with a gun?
The point in the video that reduced me to wracking sobs, though, was seeing the other two police offices walking into frame with a black male teenager who is limping and appears to be bleeding from the mouth. He’s thrown on the ground as the girl is still being manhandled, and the scene of two black kids being roughed up in the middle of a residential neighborhood as other black teens are still laying on the ground or in handcuffs, when no real crime has been committed . . . It’s beyond disturbing.
I don’t care if kids were being mouthy or jumping a pool gate because they were too impatient to wait for someone to bring the key or if some kids who didn’t live in the neighborhood came to the party. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE ENDED THIS WAY.
And the fact that it ended with children on the ground instead of being talked to with the respect the police are demanding of them, and the fact that residents of the neighborhood are applauding the police, and that people on my facebook page are blaming the victims because kids these days need to learn respect . . . I see it for what it is. It’s a legacy of dehumanizing black people that began with slavery in this country, and continued with Jim Crow laws that our own grandparents lived under, and continues with scenes like this, and with a country that justifies and excuses it as being about respect and not about a pervasive racial bias against black bodies.