"Being a police officer in America is just like being black", said Officer Johnson as I tightened up his fade. Every day in my chair at Freshly Faded Barbershop, I get the opportunity to converse with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Because of the tension with police departments all over the U.S., I leaped at the opportunity to ask a first time client "Officer Johnson" what it was like being a police officer in today's racially charged climate. "Being a police officer in America is just like being black" was his answer. Now before you go wringing Officer Johnson's neck let's hear how he came to this conclusion and perspective.
Johnson is a black male in his mid thirties. He was born in Houston, Texas and lived there until his mother and father moved to Los Angeles. There he went to high school and college, got married, and had a son who is now if my memory serves me correctly 9 years old.
Johnson told me that the reason being a police officer is just like being black is because of the stereotypes that he's had to deal with. He spoke about how as a police officer he has to cope with the fact that some people are intimidated by him, or they see him as a potential threat just because of the way he looks. How at any moment a crazy person can walk up on him and do something to him for no reason. He told me that while growing up in Houston and L.A. he had numerous negative encounters with cops. "I hated cops my whole life", he said. "I just wanted to make a positive impact and a positive change."
I personally only agree with Officer Johnson on the level of discrimination that police officers face. Yes, nowadays people hate them without even knowing them. Other than that ,being a police officer from my perspective is nothing like being black. Police officers are most often in a position of authority, so who cares if no one likes them. If someone is harassing them, the law is on their side to stop the harassment. Being a police officer is a choice, and when the uniform comes off things go back to normal.
There is no back to normal for black people. The normal is to be stereotyped and discriminated against. There is no magical uniform I can take off that says "hey guys, I'm just me, no more stereotypes". No matter what I accomplish, how I dress, how I speak, or what business I own, I'm still a black man in America, a country dealing with it's own racial prejudices. In my eyes nothing can compare with being black in America, it is what is, and at the end of the day I'm proud of being who I am, aren't you?
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