A different question came to mind for me as I watched; it's the same question asked by M, an swpd reader who wrote to me about this incident -- "Would he have punched that blonde white woman standing in the background like that?"
Again, would this police officer have punched that blonde white woman standing in the background like that?
We can never know for sure, of course. However, as M wrote to me in his email about this officer's "lack of hesitancy in striking that black woman in the face,"
The “ingrained” white truth is that black women aren't human enough to garner the same respect a white woman would in that situation. He didn't hesitate did he? I mean, he punched her right in the face like a man. We've seen it countless times -- he would have talked to the white woman -- he would have gone out of his way not to bring harm to her delicate features. I have never seen a white police officer punch a white woman in the face, now that I think about it.
I would bet that the question of whether this police officer, and most others, would punch a white woman (or man) like that, as readily as he did a black woman, is far less likely to occur to white viewers than non-white ones. The latter tend to have more direct or indirect experience with police brutality, and they also tend to know that perceptions of race have an awful lot to do with that difference.
And again, the question I'm interested in here is not whether either party did the right thing (so no comments about that, please); instead, it's whether a white police officer would be as likely to treat white citizens this way. Actually, to me, that's not an open question -- the general racial disparity in the treatment of suspects by police is widely known (among non-white people) and widely documented.
A further factor here is the supposed toughness of black women, and the supposed delicacy of white women. I suspect this white officer threw that punch so quickly -- more quickly than he would have had the receiving face been white -- because something in him said that black women can take it. And worse, that black people often "need" to be treated like that, because "that's the only way to get through to them."
The reader who wrote to me about this video also sent this tv-show clip for comparison (the show is identified at YouTube as "Smoking Gun's World's Dumbest Partiers"). Here, a white person, labeled "Bubba" by the show's writers, does something far worse than the above black jaywalker did, and yet the police officer practices amazing restraint. I doubt that's just because he's dazed by what happens.
White people clearly tend to believe that black people, both men and women (and children), are more able to withstand physical punishment. They also tend to fear black people -- because we've been trained to perceive them as dangerous and hyper-aggressive, but also, I think, because we suspect that in a confrontation, they'd take our hits better than we'd take theirs.
As M wrote,
White men do not fear other white males to the point of shooting first and asking questions later. Do you think this white police officer would be as patient and careful with his gun if that had been a black male? He was violently attacked from behind and Bubba just kept coming. He did not use his weapon even though he was at risk. He even went on to intervene on the man's behalf, sparing his life. . . .
I think this is why so many blacks males get shot down by white officers who hail from the suburbs, and white males don’t. It is a fear of the unknown. Most don’t know black males personally/intimately, so they have learned to fear the black male, based upon anecdotal information gleaned from friends and the mainstream media. Best to shoot first and ask questions later.
POC see this all the time.
I think a good research study would be to show these two videos to "subjects" from different racial backgrounds, and then analyze their expressed reactions. I can guess what the results would be. After all, as brain research shows, white people lack empathy for people who aren't white.