McKinney, TX and the Myth of "Earning" Respect

6/9/15

The very idea of recapping this event for you before I begin what I have to say is exhausting.  I've decided instead to include some video footage of the event, as well as some links that describe what happened.  So if you don't know what #McKinney is all about, start here.  Otherwise scroll down.







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I currently live in North Texas, about 45 minutes from McKinney, which does not bestow upon me magical unicorn authority to speak on the details of this particular event (a fact which, judging from social media, not everyone concurs on).  However, it does cause everything to hit just a bit closer to home.  A home which, incidentally, includes a beloved black son.  So yes, I'm more emotionally invested in this case than the average white American.  BUT I SHOULDN'T BE MORE TROUBLED BY IT.

If I am a white American watching these videos and reading these accounts, and I am not deeply shaken and concerned for the state of my country, there is something very, very wrong.

I am appalled by comments made in my Facebook feed pointing out everything these teenagers did that was "wrong" or "disrespectful".  Can I just be the one to state the obvious here?  They are teenagers.  With still-developing prefrontal cortexes.  In a state of extreme stress, fear, confusion, and chaos.  Teenagers do stupid things and act in stupid ways, and that's why they have parents to ground them for a week and why the natural consequences that come from bad choices are an excellent part of the universe.  (In case this is unclear, having a gun pulled on you is NOT a natural consequence for lingering near your friends to make sure they're going to be okay.)

Let me ask you, white reader.  When you were a teenager, were you ever once pinned to the ground on your swimsuit-clad stomach with an armed police officer's knee in your back while you ate grass and cried for your mama?

No?  Me neither.  Because unless you'd posed a violent threat to another human being, this would be wildly inappropriate and unjust.  AND IT IS.


There were adult chaperones at this party.  They were not sought out.  Minors were.  We thought we'd come so far.  But we keep finding out it's been a lie, a mirage.  Just under the surface, there is still a rumbling.

We have work to do, my fellow Americans.  And it doesn't start with a Facebook rant or this silly blog post.  It starts with practicing the recognition of the God-given dignity in every human being in little ways, in little moments, throughout our day.  This goes deeper than race, even.  It sinks past that and goes into every single one of our prejudices, every single way that we see people for less than they are, every single time we let thoughts go through our minds without catching them and telling them to get the hell out.  

It's about the big fat bold faced lie that "you have to earn respect".  No I don't.  No you don't.  No we don't.  No they don't.  Every single human being deserves to be treated with a base level of respect, even when circumstances are necessarily tough.  Because each one of us has a piece of the Divine within us.  And what's more, if you claim to be a Christian, to disrespect that is to disrespect the Incarnated Christ Himself.

EDITED TO ADD: The backstory of what this police officer had endured earlier that day on duty is addressed here.  We simply must change a policing system that dehumanizes cops.


*I wrote more about the topic of the current race relations in America here.  It is not something I feel particularly drawn towards writing on, but I refuse to look back on my life and regret being silent in the face of injustice.*

#BLACKLIVESMATTER


12 comments:

  1. This is such an important take: Every single human being deserves to be treated with a base level of respect, even when circumstances are necessarily tough. Because each one of us has a piece of the Divine within us. And what's more, if you claim to be a Christian, to disrespect that is to disrespect the Incarnated Christ Himself.

    Thank you for writing this post -- I sincerely mean that.

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  2. Thank you Brigid, I'm really glad you're "here". :)

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  3. I can't even make it through the whole video, it's too awful. I can't find the words to describe how disheartening it is to see something like that happen; to see a grown up, one who should be trained to handle those kinds of situations, behave like that towards children, and to have his actions be so obviously racially motivated. And to have no one stop it.
    How do I even begin to warn my kids about something like this? And why is this even still happening?

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  4. I don't know Amber, but I am so deeply disturbed that I spent most of my life blind to the reality of white privilege. The fact that for generations mothers HAVE been having to warn and prepare their children for these types of situations... and I had never even known that until a few years ago.


    Many (many!) on FB are pointing out the discrepancies in the back story, and I understand that we're only getting a small picture on the video. But what is easy to see is just what you said- an officer of the law who should be trained to handle that situation escalated it completely out of control. I do feel sad for the way this reflects on the vast majority of police officers who are fair and level headed. It's not fair to them either, but... well, it is what it is.

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  5. I recently sat down with an acquaintance here and her boyfriend, both of whom are black, to have them tell me about their experiences and what I need to make sure my kids are aware of. The hardest one was hearing that they shouldn't run unless they're obviously dressed to exercise and then that they should only do it in fully public areas, not neighborhoods.
    I know it's selfish but right now I'm glad we live outside the US so that I can protect my kids from this just a little bit longer.

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  6. I don't think it's selfish at all, I totally get it. I'm scared too. I'm so glad you got to talk with someone about it.

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  7. I agree 100% there is a respect that ALL are worthy of and the police officers actions are WRONG! The article you added is fabulous and I pray God is developing me into someone with a mixed group of friends as well as my congregation. I can relate to seeing ourselves in both positions, my brother is a privileged white male about to enter the police academy, I love dearly and always will the inner city kids I taught and the wisdom my grandmother carries having taught back when schools were segregated - her story is awful and I can relate to it in inner city Waco teaching. I also was raised just above poverty line (not in the same house as my brother) and so many of my friends didn't look like me and I was profiled in some cases because I "didn't act like I was raised by a single Mom" and my closest friend in jr. high is black. I am blessed by that and wouldn't trade it. These things happening around us make my blood boil. However I also think there has to be more to this story - NOT to excuse this behavior that is awful but from what I've read there's another side to the creation of the party which sadly played a part in putting these teens in harms way. This article has interesting background though again doesn't make the lack of respect ok. the video makes me so mad. I just hate the media bullying that happens around things to. http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/06/08/the-full-story-of-the-mckinney-texas-pool-mob-inside-the-craig-ranch-subdivision/

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  8. Hey Mandy! I love your heart and the way I've seen you live your life, full of love and justice. And I honestly appreciate you bringing up the rest of the story, because much of it was still very unclear when I wrote this.

    Yes, it is my understanding that there is a lot of sketchy stuff that led up to this incident happening. It certainly seems appropriate that the police were called in the first place, as the HOA stipulations were significantly broken (not just fudged on, which I think most people have done when inviting guests to their neighborhood pool!) and the group seemed to be out of control. However, like you said, it does not in any way excuse the evidence of mishandling that is clearly seen in the video.

    I also want to add, while I appreciate sites like the one you linked to giving a fuller picture of the story, I very much take issue with using people's personal photos to paint pictures of them as "bad" or undeserving of respect and justice. (Which you probably do too, I just wanted to add for others who click the link to that site.)

    And you never need to ask permission to share, this is a public forum so share away :)

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  9. My kid was at a party once where the police were called and guess what? Half the kids there ran!! And guess what else? Not a single one got chased by a cop, let alone shoved to the ground or a gun pulled on them. And it never would have occurred to me that something like that ever even could or would happen! My white world is sooooo different from the black world. I feel so ashhappen! My white world is sooooo different from the black world. I feel so ashwhat else? Not a single one got chased by a cop, let alone shoved to the ground or a gun pulled on them. And it never would have occurred to me that something like that ever even could or would happen! My white world is sooooo different from the black world. I feel so ashamed to be a white American when I see things like this!! Men who are this frightened by kids in bathing suits should not be policemen!!They are too easily frightened to be trusted with guns!!!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your family's experience here, Hank. Really interesting. When I watch the video, it seems to me that two policemen were calm and level headed and one was out of control, which of course escalated the kids' reactions and the scene in general. Anyway, I have to agree with you- I also feel embarrassment about being white when I watch things like this. It's painful.

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  11. each one of us has a piece of the Divine within us. And what's more, if
    you claim to be a Christian, to disrespect that is to disrespect the
    Incarnated Christ Himself.

    Love this Shannon. So true. This is what it is all about, it is what our marriages, our families and communities are all about. The sacred is part of our everyday interactions. We choose whether to ignore or embrace Christ as we see Him in each person.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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  12. Yes, that's it!


    I guess I'm naive, but I didn't expect this post to be as controversial as it was. (On FB anyway.) But yes, THAT was the heart of what I was trying to say!

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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

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