I am a Black man, and as much as I love everything about my Blackness, it can become tiring to remain acutely aware of it in many daily public situations. What’s funny about this previous sentence is that as simple as it appears, it will probably be interpreted in two different ways by most (not all) Black and white people. Many African-Americans will look at that sentence and understand that the comment is referring to the sometimes obvious, yet often covert nature of prejudice that we face, from needing to code-switch in our office to mentally preparing ourselves to be followed around and treated like we’re casing a joint for a robbery whenever we walk into a high end store.
Yet, many white people will read that first comment and think that the problem is inherently with how we CHOOSE to see the world, NOT with how things actually are. They will tell us to stop “playing the race card”, or they will instruct us to “not see skin color”, as if refusing to acknowledge and appreciate each others differences is a sign of post-racial unity. But this simple misunderstanding is proof of why minorities need to tell their own stories, and why ignorant white reporters like Sean Bergin need to keep their bullshit opinions to themselves.
Bergin, a News 12 New Jersey reporter, has recently made waves by going on air and collectively blasting Black males for having negative views about the police.
Police officer named Melvin Santiago, a 23 year old rookie on the force, was murdered in front of a Walgreens by a Black man who apparently planned the murder in advance. Lawrence Campbell allegedly stole a security officer’s gun and waited for police to arrive, reportedly telling a witness that he was ‘going to be famous.’ When Santiago arrived, Lawrence gunned him down and then was subsequently shot by other officers right after.
During News 12’s report, they covered the story with a familiar classlessness that marks many major media outlets – they focused on the shooter, more so than the officer. But not to tell a story of mental health, or to gain a look into the mind of a man who decided to murder an officer knowing that he would probably die in the process too, but rather to present his community’s sorrow as tacit approval of his actions and to use the statements of his wife, Angelique Campbell (“He should have taken more with him…If they were going to stand over my husband and shoot him like a f***ing dog, he should have taken all those motherf***ers out.”) as low hanging fruit to help further demonize the killer. But it doesn’t end there. As bad as reading the statement was, deciding to interview her in front of her late-husband’s make shift memorial shortly after his murder was far worse. She emphatically doubled-down on her wish that he murdered more officers and that is when shit went out of control.