Tulsa officer Betty Shelby kills unarmed Black man; implicit and explicit bias
A Black man was unarmed and fatally shot by police. This isn’t a new news story. Yet, we are overwhelmed and confused by it. No matter how often we chant “Black lives matter” or retort “Blue lives matter,” the pain is real. This particular story hits home, yet again, because he was a father of four who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The same city where Eric Harris was murdered by a play cop who was funding the Sheriff’s department.
On the evening of Friday, September 16, 2016, when helicopters arrived on the scene and flew above the intersection where Terence Crutcher’s SUV was stalled, one of the men can be heard on the radio saying: “time for a Taser.” He then says: “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher’s public response to that comment, that is based on pure conjecture and bias, “The big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father,” she said. “That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”
This is her twin brother you are talking about. And he is now dead. During a discussion in Atlanta last evening, Monday, September 19, 2016, Lynell Cadray, associate vice provost of Equity and Inclusion at Emory University had this to say about unconscious bias during her presentation titled “Conscious of our Unconscious: Implicit Bias Exercise”: “[It’s] pervasive, subtle, association in the brain that operate outside of conscious awareness. [It’s] unconscious thoughts, acts and learned behaviors based on life experiences, media, images and learnings. The unconsciousness automatically connects two things or two ideas in your mind and when you think of one you think of the other.”
It’s a subject I also spoke about this summer during a technology and film conference. We can all agree this bias can be expressed implicitly or explicitly, unfortunately for Black America, it’s expressed in the unlawful shooting of unarmed Black men and women. And it’s ends in murder!