Less than a year after the killing of a black American, George Floyd, by a white policeman (May 2020), the canker of racial injustice has ignited outrage in the United States of America yet again.
As President Biden signs an astonishing welter of executive papers ~ to bin the legacy of Donald Trump ~ it is the frequent expression of racial hatred, violence and killing that ought to be accorded highest priority in the President’s systematic agenda to address his depleted legacy.
The colour of the skin and age are no deterrents for the nation’s predominantly white police. It thus comes about that a nine-year-ld black girl was handcuffed and made to sit in the rear seat of a police vehicle, with the white cops trying to wrangle her fully inside the car.
“This is your last chance,” was the remarkably insensitive warning of a police officer. “Otherwise we will target your eyeballs with pepper.” Before long, pepper was sprayed even as the girl cried, “Please wipe my eyes. Wipe my eyes please.”
The narrative in itself is astonishing. What started as a police report on family trouble in Rochester has ended with the police treating a fourth-grader worse than a criminal suspect.
What will a nine-year-old know of family discord who only games, studies and friends know? A parallel in America’s black-and-white equation is hard to find. Small wonder that the inhumane treatment has spurred outrage as the latest, horrifying incident of mistreatment of blacks by the law enforcement authorities of what is regarded as the fountainhead of democracy.
The inhuman treatment meted out to the girl exemplifies how even children are not exempt from police brutality and racial injustice. More basically, there has been little or no change in the attitude of the white establishment, and not even after the brutal death of Floyd after a policeman pressed his boot on his neck.
In one sequence of the video presentation, the police tells the girl, “You’re acting like a chid.” To which she retorts, “I am a child.” But as with the not wholly dissimilar outrages elsewhere in the United States, it is the colour of the skin ~ and not the tender age ~ that influences the persecution inflicted by whites, most particularly by those guntoting watchdogs in uniform.
The distressing fact of the matter must be that police, as often as not, treat them in ways they wouldn’t dream of treating white children. On occasion, the almost endemic racial hatred has led to fatalities like the killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was shot by a white police officer in Cleveland in 2014.
A study published in the journal, Paediatrics, revealed that black children and teenagers were “six times as likely to die from police gunfire as white children”. And that precisely is America in black and white.