Some years ago, in the midst of the controversy over Professor Louis Gate’s arrest by officers who thought he was breaking into his own house, I wrote an article called Law Enforcement Etiquette for Black Folks: How to Act When You Encounter the Police. I received a fair amount of criticism for implying that Black folks, especially Black men and boys, needed to behave a certain way so as not to get unnecessarily beaten, arrested or killed. The Houston Chronicle ran the article and many folks, Black and White, were up in arms about my suggestion that Black folks have a unique need to be careful with the police. Some Black folks felt that I was suggesting we should be weak and submissive, which compromises our humanity.
I was amazed that so many missed the point, which was that sometimes we have to prioritize survival. We have to recognize that at the time of an encounter with the police, or any other person with a gun, we must behave in ways that will defuse the situation so as not to end up injured, arrested or dead.
The recent death of Trayvon Martin brings this reality crashing through our conciousness again, here is the link to what I have to say about this recent tragedy–