In their mugshots, officers in mug shots, five Black officers who were dismissed out of Memphis police department following Tyre Nichols’s tragic death, and have been accused of murder in the second degree, are slack-jawed by the camera.
They’re dressed in civilian attire including crewnecks, hoodies — and don’t possess the authority their badges and police uniforms were once able to grant them. They’ve been stripped of their positions of authority that were weaponized. They’re five young men and brown-skinned who have been accused of inflicting an atrocity that was heinous against a Black man who they were able to refer to as “bro.”
How did they do it?
Systemic racism is a horrible, cruel issues to the hearts who fall into its web. It’s difficult to watch even a small portion of footage taken during the arrest of Nichols and not cry over the brutality and disrespect that he received. The body cameras for police as well as an overhead street camera give an uninvolved view of the events that transpired in the early days of January.
The public can clearly see that the tragedy starts with officers showing a rage hatred for Nichols as he is removed from his car while police throw curses at Nichols. Nichols is whipped by an avalanche of unattainable and confusing commands as well as a torrent of profanity, threats to speak, as well as numerous deadly hits from batons or fist, as well as feet.
As soon as the officers leave Nichols and put his limp body on the vehicle, they’re exhausted from the effort. It’s exhausting to beat another person down, crushing his spirit to ensure that someone is able to stand over him beating the life of an unarmed man before making it their livelihood.
“Sit up”bro,” one officer is recorded saying on the tape. He is using the same expression of a simple acquaintance with Nichols that the police use in their interactions in an attempt they were suggesting that this battle was fair, like Nichols would surely be in good shape. “Sit up you slacker,” an officer says in a tone that is both brutal and hollow. It would have been nice if these officers thought of him as a person as they beat him, rather than being a fictitious object or detritus.
The shortcomings of the nation’s police forces can’t be reduced to a question of race, particularly since race plays a significant role in the way that people are treated by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
Race determines whether someone has confidence to believe that law enforcement officers will view them as citizens deserving of respect, will feel empathy when they need assistance and act in a way that they can help. Police constitute a structure that keep the country’s social class system, and its strict definition of privilege and power that remains unabated to the power of money, education, and politics.
According to the writer Isabel Wilkerson stated, America’s caste system “is an act of subordinated caste’s dehumanization which allows nearly any crime to be committed against them by any member of any kind of group, even their own. This is to maintain the caste system and ensure one’s own position regardless of how marginal it.”
The past has long defined Whiteness as a valuable asset, allowing one to gain an opportunity to rise up the level in the hierarchy. One drip of Blackness was a definite burden. The sequence was established. In the course of time the system of caste has been a major driver of the practice of colorism. It has led to some Black immigrants, who are hoping to remain at least one step away from the lower rungs of the social ladder in order to differentiate them from Black Americans who’s ancestors were slaves.
It causes the Black taxi driver to ignore the Black man who is looking for an Uber to his home. It was the basis for the myth of only having to complete two things in this life: be Black and then die.