To the editor:
At a Gloucester coffeeshop on a recent morning, a customer brought up the subject of police treatment of people of color, and the waitress, who might be the owner, said that “It starts at home.” The waitress’ premise was that people of color are not brought up correctly, don’t take care of their children, and people of color commit more crime. She proceeded to tell the story of the time she was robbed and kicked in the stomach by a Black man when she was eight months pregnant.
In my bag was “The Fire Next Time,” where James Baldwin tells his nephew, “They had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that Black men are inferior to white men … But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent ... those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe…” People perpetuate this myth that people of color are something to be afraid of with no basis, it is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness people do not even realize they are racist.
To the woman the waitress was speaking to who was in tears when I left, my silence is not complicity – well, now it’s not, but it was that morning in that coffeeshop. People of color do not commit more crime than white people, and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program has the data. People of color are statistically pulled over more by the police, imprisoned, killed, and somehow, at the same time – more feared.