By John Slade
“The world is stunned to discover that prehistoric creatures exist in the Twentieth Century.” That quote was uttered by a breathless news anchor in the American cut of the classic 1963 picture, King Kong Vs. Godzilla in the moments following Godzilla’s reappearance in the film. After what happened at the Starbucks in Philadelphia and to a 14-year-old Black child in Detroit over the past week this should not stun us. But it does. We as Black people are like the characters in a Japanese monster movie looking nervously at Tokyo Bay waiting for the next creature to rise up that we know is coming.
Two Black men minding their business were arrested because they were sitting while Black in a Starbucks. A Starbucks!! Starbucks, a company that likes to put on a progressive façade is now in the midst of a public relations nightmare and it will be interesting to see how they escape this debacle. Now it appears that an employee called the Police because the two Black men had sat down at a table and didn’t order anything. Of course, not ordering anything is an offense that demands Police intervention. Now the Police could not have just figured out what was going on and just as Frozen would suggest, let it go? The Philadelphia Police Commissioner defended his men by saying that “It is important to emphasize and underscore that these officers had legal standing to make this arrest.” Now let’s understand this, what the Commissioner said was not the point. A Police Officer has the legal standing to arrest Santa Clause for illegally entering a residence on Christmas Eve, but should he? I say no. The police didn’t have to arrest anyone seeing that White people were sitting in the coffee shop for a much longer time without being arrested. If a purchase was required where was the signage? Couldn’t a barista have simply gone to the table and asked nicely that you have to buy a cup of coffee to sit. Seems a better choice than having the men arrested.
In addition, we have the awful Detroit episode of Brennan Walker a teenager who missed a bus and was lost in a residential neighborhood. This Black child was looking for help to find his way to his school. Walker knocked on the wrong door and was met with gunfire as he was chased by a 53-year-old armed White man who thought his fear was worth a child’s life like George Zimmerman who didn’t have to do what he did also.
The election of Donald Trump has emboldened these folks who seem to think it’s open season on Black Americans. Add to that a national government that can’t and won’t protect Black people just like the ineffectual governments in those giant monster films who couldn’t protect the populace; because our humanity doesn’t seem to matter to it.
I understand the calls for a boycott but considering the intensity of the issue, what is the end game? Is it to make Starbucks better? Is it to get the employee who racially profiled the two men fired? Is it to get Black people to spend their money at Black owned coffee shops? Again, I’m not saying don’t boycott but what is the goal?
Where’s the Black political establishment? Out elected leadership should at least be irked, perturbed, and disconcerted.
Here’s one thing for sure as far as I’m concerned, I no longer want to hear from any White person friend or foe about what Black people are supposed to do to avoid trouble with the Police or regular White people. Black people can’t even sit quietly in a public establishment without some White person deciding to exert their Whiteness just because they can. It now appears to Black America there is nothing we can do to avoid trouble, so to White America could you just hush? Don’t need to hear your suggestions anymore, thanks. As for Black America and our would be allies, it’s time to be more than stunned that prehistoric people and attitudes exist in the Twenty First Century.