As an African American male who frequently drives in North Charleston, I can attest to being racially profiled by white North Charleston police. In addition, I’ve heard many local citizens complain about being harassed by these same officers.
For example, last year I was pulled over on Rivers Avenue and asked to step outside of my car and to put both hands on top of my hood, because one of my headlights was out.
However, while standing with both hands on the hood, I noticed that both of my headlights were working. By that time, at least four other officers pulled over to assist. While the cop who pulled me over was running my driver’s license through the system, other officers searched my car. Once they found materials that showed I was a professor at the College of Charleston, they retreated by saying that the officer who pulled me over “thought my headlights were out.”
To this extent, charging officer Michael Slager would provide minimal satisfaction. Simply arresting police officers is not enough. We must eradicate institutional racism and racial profiling, which continue to be embedded into the fabric of Charleston and throughout America.
Young black males are constantly fearful that their lives will be taken by the police. Instead of viewing police officers as people who will protect them, they view cops as people who can shoot and kill black males with little or no repercussions.
As fear continues to penetrate the hearts and minds of our black boys, it is imperative that black male educators and fathers become active role models for our boys.
Not only must we attempt to protect them from police brutality, we must educate them about institutional racism and systemic inequalities which cripple our society at large.
Antonio L. Ellis
Adjunct Professor and Clinical Practice Supervisor
Foundations of Education
College of Charleston