There is something malicious to this video of a Brooklyn bodega. Teresa Klein, 53, an adult Caucasian woman that accused a 9-year-old Black child of sexual assault. The worst part is when she claimed she was on the phone with the police (in the video she also claims to be a police officer), you see this child is terrified. He has his backpack on as he and his sister begin to cry.
I thought about Emmett Till. I thought about Tamir Rice. I thought about my brother. I thought about the young men I grew up with. I thought when this woman apologized to this child, who thought he was going to jail or worse, how he may have thought his life was over! I could not help but think she really doesn’t get what she just did. She doesn’t understand, she doesn’t understand what she just exposed this Black child to. She has no concept of what an apology is, what it would look like, or how hollow that looks, that it feels to the life of Black children.
She does not get it.
The wizened Tim Wise said this during a town hall with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in May 2018:
“White America has been raised to believe the police are always the good guys—and frankly, that black lives matter less than white comfort.”
I could not agree more. The key thing, I believe, most white people who practice catch-release relationships with law enforcement the ignorance of their own racism. You cannot erase that you called the police on a Black child whom you thought grabbed your butt. There is segment of the white population that still see young, Black and male as the standing description for those who commit sexual assault. It still stands to reason, and scrutiny, that the woman that accused Emmett Till of accosting her, still has not expressed what exactly happened during that exchange sixty-three years ago! The same encounter that resulted in Mamie and Louis Till’s son being murdered.
I am perplexed as to why she thought her motivation in calling the police was not racist. I am perplexed at why the majority of white people say they are not racist, but adopt this racist behavior? Why use the power structure of white supremacy to continue to perpetuate the harmful oppression of Black children? If you have been alive or relatively cognizant of what is going on, taking beliefs out of it, can one not see that the police have been an instrument of racism and oppression? A social crowd control as it were? This under the guise of the protection and as Tim Wise says, ‘white comfort’. While the 9-year-old mother was recording the incident, as a crowd gathered, she never hung up the phone. Ms. Klein kept on the phone with the police. Her emphatic quote to authorities was, “No, I want the cops here now. That’s right the son grabbed my ass!” He did no such thing; it was his backpack that brushed her butt.
What she fails to realize is she could have gotten someone killed because of what she thought. Don’t believe me, ask Tamir Rice’s mother. He was only three years older than this young man is. What is lost in this matter of false apologies is the displacing of common sense. Most white people who call law enforcement in these situations want a ‘problem’ removed. Most Black people, people of color, have no such relief when law enforcement shows up. Most of us think that we are going to be hurt, our lives will end, or the life of someone else we know will end!
This is not hyperbole. This is not imagination. This is not spinning of current politics. There are cases upon cases of police murder with the catalyst of call from ‘a concerned citizen’. This is the glaring portion of cognitive dissonance for those that participate in this catch-release relationship with police or other entities of law enforcement. In the age of Black Lives Matter, the chime of All Lives Matter drowns those pleas. Even when we scream for it all to stop, for the world to pay attention, someone will still say it doesn’t matter when the proof is in front of them.
#CornerStoreCaroline doesn’t get it. #BarbequeBecky doesn’t get it. #PermitPatty doesn’t get it. They don’t understand their ‘discomfort’ can lead to someone’s death! This is the thing that is lost. This is the monster under the bed or in the closet. Draping an ‘I’m sorry’ over this is not sufficient and is insulting! This week there is a campaign for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to investigate this matter and prosecute Teresa Klein. The fact she continued this charade while this child was in hysterics on a public street, shows how callous she was. His tears were of no consequence. The irate, righteous protection of his mother — who recorded this incident along with other witnesses — was irrelevant. This shows the mindset for people in this situation whom harness law enforcement for the sake of their personal, social comfort. Her apology means nothing, because she thought of this Black child as nothing.