The killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown led to days of protests in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, and amplified a rift between the town’s African-American residents and the police in the region. But what about police officers who are also black?
The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool spoke with a black female police officer who works in the St Louis area.
She discussed her take on the controversy in Ferguson and the realities of race on the force. Out of consideration for her job, she asked not to be identified.
Before you joined the police force, what experiences did you have with the police in this area?
Experiences that made me feel disrespected, less of a human being. I have been stopped in my car and accused of doing some things I don’t think I’d done.
The tone was different. In some senses, it is almost as if the officers I had the interactions with could not care less about who I was, that I was beneath him so he didn’t have to extend a level of respect. I felt personally attacked.
I wanted to join the police to make a difference. I thought I could explain things from a citizen’s perspective, and explain things to the community from the law enforcement perspective.
Now do you feel like an outsider among your colleagues in the police force?
I do, very much so. I don’t relate with a lot of them, I haven’t lived similar lives to them.
It may be a combination of being African American and a woman, but there are certain events I am not included in, or even informed of.
Maybe in their growing up they didn’t have a lot of interactions with African-American females from the inner city – they’re uncomfortable with it, but instead of trying to address it, they avoid it, even fear it.
So when black people in Ferguson say the issue is not just about Michael Brown, but the way they have been treated as a community, do you agree?
I can completely agree with that. It [the killing of Michael Brown] should be a learning experience.
Source: BBC | Aleem Maqbool