My Struggle With ‘White Silence’

My Struggle With ‘White Silence’

I was watching the Oklahoma City Thunder game and messing around on Facebook last night when I saw a post made by a former co-worker. I realized pretty quickly that it was newly-released body-camera footage of an incident in Fort Worth, Texas, last month.

What happened that day is relatively well-known. But for the uninitiated, Jacqueline Craig, a 46-year-old black woman called police Dec. 21, 2016, to report that her white male neighbor had assaulted her 7-year-old son. Officer William Martin responded, and learned that the neighbor allegedly assaulted the child because he believed the child had littered.

From there, the interaction was broadcast to Facebook via the platform’s Facebook Live feature.

That video showed Craig telling Martin it didn’t matter if her child littered, because even if it had happened, that wouldn’t give the neighbor permission to touch her son.

“Why not?” Martin asked.

Craig appeared offended by the remark, and the conversation between her and Martin grew heated. Martin eventually threatened to arrest Craig, saying “if you keep yelling at me, you’re going to piss me off and I’m going to put you in jail.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Martin forcefully wrestled Craig to the ground and arrested her, as well as her 19-year-old daughter.

Fort Worth police later dropped the charges against the two women, and suspended Martin without pay during a review of the incident.

I watched that Facebook Live video exactly one time. Which is one time more than I watched the body-camera footage that was released by Craig’s attorneys on Thursday.

Why? When I saw the new recording had been released, I had zero interest in watching it. I’m always shocked and saddened at the inhumanity in some of these recordings, and this incident was no different. I’m fatigued by them. They’ve become the equivalent of sad dog commercials, my heartstrings have been tugged on so often that rather than watch I just change the channel.

So I scrolled past. But then I began to question myself. Is it wrong of me to do that? I’m extremely unlikely to ever face a similar situation, so by ignoring the video am I ignoring its reality? Am I ignoring the pain incidents like that cause and the people they hurt?