Tuesday, June 16, 2015


"Money Magazine ranked McKinney as the #1 Best Place to Live in America! McKinney has been featured in the top 5 on the list since 2010. Money editors and writers look at data about employment, schools, crime and safety, and also evaluate each city’s overall quality of life to determine the rankings" - mckinneytexas.org

I live in North Texas, just 40 miles up the road from McKinney where earlier this month some white folks got crossways with some black folks. It happened in a nice neighborhood where teenagers were having an end of school year pool party. A black girl, who was a resident, was hosting the party and there was a mixed crowd in attendance. Apparently the DJ tweeted that it was an open party and pretty soon it was overflowing with kids and noise and the general mischief in which teenagers tend to engage. It was a neighborhood pool and apparently some white women who were not there for the party took offense to the shenanigans and pretty soon there were racial slurs followed by some hair-pulling and face-slapping. The police were called in and things escalated quickly. One policeman in particular was pretty riled up and aggressively started rounding up and cuffing black kids. A young black girl objected loudly and when given the chance to walk away objected even louder and ended up pinned, face-down on the ground with the police officer’s knees in her back. A couple of young black males moved toward the officer and he drew his gun. Other officers gained control of him and the situation. Thankfully, no one was shot.

McKinney is a nice place. A growing suburb on the northern edge of the DFW Metroplex with great schools, beautiful neighborhoods and a diverse citizenry. One does not expect a “racial incident” to occur in McKinney. Certainly not in one of their nicer neighborhoods. But it did. And now everyone wants action and answers. The police officer has resigned. There have been protests. But, for the most part the community has come together and handled it the right way. Black and white leaders, mostly ministers, have taken the lead. This is the Bible belt and, believe it or not, a lot of Christians see Christians and not color. McKinney will be alright.

The media has milked “the incident” for all it’s worth. It’s just what they do and who can blame them. As long as we pay attention and the story gets “views”, the story will be considered newsworthy. And, I am inclined to say that we should pay attention. The fact is that “the incident” was not in “the hood”, it was in “the neighborhood”. The kind of place that used to be all white. Twenty years ago, this doesn’t happen. The black girl doesn’t live in this neighborhood and therefore doesn’t host a party at the community pool. The music is probably still too loud and some of the teenagers are probably out-of-control. Twenty years ago or today, some might be drunk or high. Yesterday or today, if adults aren’t watching the boys and girls are doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing with each other. Twenty years ago, the party is probably just about as bad as it is today except that it’s all white kids. (And Twitter isn’t around to facilitate inviting a bunch of un-invited guests. ) Teenagers tend to do crazy stuff. Mix hormones with alcohol or drugs and it only gets crazier. Happened in my day and it hasn’t gotten better since then.

But now we have “kids of color” in the picture and it’s complicated. Everyone sees color, more so if you were born sometime in the last century. And if you are in law enforcement you notice color and a lot of other sights and sounds that through experience tell you to be on guard. Is it profiling? Duh...yeah. Is it fair? Nope. But it’s there and we must deal with it. And the good news is that, to a significant degree, we are dealing with it. A lot of other McKinney police officers were there at the pool party. All but one of them demonstrated levels of patience and restraint that were admirable. Most of our law enforcement officers “get it” and go out of their way to do it the right way.

But it only takes one to create an incident. Even in places like McKinney, Texas. Then it falls back on all police officers. And at some point, being in law enforcement just isn’t worth it. Especially, for the really good people who might make the best police officers. We’ve pretty much gutted the teaching profession and now we are well on our way with law enforcement. Yes we need to continue the conversation about police-race relations. But we better start a conversation about supporting and respecting those we hire to enforce our laws, the vast majority of whom are well-deserving of such.

No comments: