Whether Fields was racist or not matters little to the millions who’ve seen the video, and somehow concluded this young girl got what she deserved. What they know and feel is that no black girl in the world should defy a police officer’s request and if she does, whatever in the world that cop does to her is fair game.”
My heart was shattered as I read these words, which appeared in a piece by New York Daily News Senior Justice reporter Shaun King, about the way people responded to the brutalization of an African-American teenage girl by Deputy Ben Fields last week at Spring Valley High School.
Having once been a little Black girl, presently being an aunt to little Black girls, and a mother to a little Black girl, I am, sadly, not shocked to discover that there are people who believe I hold no agency over my own body, and that any denial of White authority is automatically considered rebellion. But what disturbed me more than anything was seeing Black folks on social media and hearing them around the proverbial water cooler saying, “She was disrespectful” and “These kids don’t respect authority nowadays.”
I expect as much from ridiculous talking heads like Raven Symoné and Don Lemon, with all their “Well you gotta follow the rules in school” (Duh) and faux concern about “passing judgment.” They are paid to be provocative in the worst ways. But when seemingly humane “regular folk” co-sign that foolishness, it’s heartbreaking. Are folks really, even if unconsciously, colluding with the likes of Raven, Lemon, or Deputy Fields himself against this young girl? Never mind this child’s state of mind, that she was recently placed in foster care and transferred to Spring Valley high school. The takeaway seems to be, “Don’t you dare sass massa or you fo’ sho’ gon’ get a whippin’.”