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Use of excessive force shows racism still exists

The recent brutalization of 22-year-old John Willet, while handcuffed and submissive, is repulsive. Like a boiling tea kettle, it spews into the air the hot steams of national outcry for karmic retribution for all law enforcement – not just Buffalo Police Officer John Cirulli, who was suspended without pay.

It is difficult for one who is not black and whose life has been protected by the glass house of white privilege to fathom something like a police officer using excessive force, or pre-emptively stopping people whom they suspect to be criminals – especially in the so-called age of colorblindness – that racism exists. However, all one needs to do is indulge oneself in the stories of Willet, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and Javon Dawson, and hopefully, one will come to the bewildering realization that the truth favors the latter.

If it was not for the kind act of an ordinary citizen videotaping the beating of Willet, pulling back the curtains of soft discrimination and exposing the dramatic theatrical displays of police brutality, then some people would continue to buy into the counterfactual rhetoric that racism does not exist, despite the prodigious social evidence saying that it does exist.

Just because we’ve gone from an overt lynching, water-hosing, police dog-attacking society to a subtle mass incarceration, stop-and-frisk and school-to-prison pipeline society, it does not mean that racism is nonexistent. Until we acknowledge our pluralistic ignorance of the social and economic disparities between whites and African-Americans, then unfortunately, we will continue to look the other way when another John Willet is domineered and brutalized by law enforcement.

Lewuga Benson

Tonawanda