Some years ago a blonde American girl disappeared on Aruba. The news was so full of it that some people finally got sick of it and came up with a new tv network: www = where are the White women? We laughed but it turned serious as some commentators began listing all the Black women who had disappeared in similar circumstances, not prostitutes or drug addicts surrounding themselves with danger but educated, substantial women. No uproar on the news at all. It was considered, and still is considered, a comment on how much the society values Black people.
Now we have Black Lives Matter, voicing the same concern. The police can shoot down Black man after Black man, unarmed, and suffer no consequences except those of their own conscience, which, to tell from some of the reports from the inside of police departments, is dulled by endemic racism.
When I trace things like this back into the past, some people deride me, saying it is just the nature of the media or of the police. No, it is exactly institutional racism. Here’s a story. A 13 year old Black girl was working in the home of a White family, as she had for some years, and had to go home by bus one night. At the bus stop, a man pulled up in a car, pointed a gun at her and ordered her into his car. She got in, but at the next red light, said “the hell with the gun” and jumped out. Fortunately he did not shoot her.
She got home and told her father and he called the police. They came out and when they saw she was Black, they offered to do nothing, despite the fact that she was savvy about cars and gave a good description of both the car and the man. Phoenix had a population of about 100,000, so keeping an eye out for such a car would not have been hard and having a witness who could identify the culprit would have made it a good arrest. But they ignored her.
Her father got angry and called again. This time they sent out the one Black policeman, but he couldn’t do anything without the support of the force.
This was in 1955.