One of the things I found irritating about the brotherhood of police that lined up in support of Officer Crowley and their attempts to chastise President Obama was how crass they all seemed. They seemed like the very kind of crude police officers that would indeed engage in racial profiling and the kind that I would be afraid of. When one of them referenced the President’s signaling the history of profiling and police brutality, he brushed it off as “whatever the history may be,” we’re not stupid. Probably not, but brushing aside the history of police brutality against black people, especially in Boston, is the height of insensitivity.
Despite what might be said about that, what is refreshing is the air of change that President Obama promised the nation and has delivered in so many small and large ways. Here was a fundamental shift in the imagery of power, transgression and forgiveness. Here is something we have never before witnessed in the entire history of the United States.
A white cop misbehaves himself and wrongfully arrests a black man then he has to go the Office of the President of the United States, who is also a brother, to explain himself and make nice. That’s seismic.
Consider the message that sends to our boys in blue all over the country. They are probably in their squad cars right now, driving slowly past a brother staring him down with contempt as they usually do, but they’re thinking, “What’s the world coming to? That nigger might be Obama’s cousin. Come on Vinnie, let’s go.”
Images matter. For a white cop to have to go the Oval Office and sit down with two brothers – one of whom is the President of the United States, the other of whom is one of the world’s leading scholars at the nation’s oldest university is an image that I will cherish.