Under The Radar - Winners and Losers

By Francis White

How many of you ever watched that Dave Chappelle (Chappelle Show) skit where he switches the arrest scenarios of a black (African American) drug dealer and a typical white all American family? In the skit, the drug dealer is given a call before he is to be arrested. The cops are polite when they talk to him and treat him with respect. They even let the drug dealer choose the day and time for them to arrest him. On the other hand, the white family doesn’t receive such a humane and courteous treatment. The police don’t announce when they’re coming, they just show up and kick the door down. They treat the white family with disdain, disrespect, and yell obscenities at them while arresting the father. They even shoot the dog. If you've never seen it, you should when you get a chance because it’s hilarious.

It was probably so hilarious to me because there’s a lot of truth to it. In America, and in other places too even if we don’t realize it, or are in denial about it, we live in two different worlds – two completely different alternate realities that coexist on the same plane of existence. You can call it a tale of two cities.

This tale of two has its origins in the fact that America is separated unfortunately by class. It’s separated into the category of those who have access to varying levels of power, and those who don’t. Those that have this access can be largely characterized by having a certain level of wealth, disposable income, and/or perceived privilege. Because America was founded partly on capitalist principles, we’re born into a situation where by default we will have to compete with each other for basic survival. So just like professional sports, there will be a winner and a loser, but unlike professional sports, whoever loses will not be getting any of the gate receipts or the fight purse.

Visibly, the greatest element that characterizes who is winning and losing is race. It’s been documented extensively that people of color, black or brown people, or African Americans and Hispanics are on the losing side, while other groups of people are on the winning side. How can you tell if these groups of people losing? Well these groups of people statistically dominate all losing categories in this country. These groups make up the majority of the prison population, the majority of those unemployed, the majority of those not owning businesses therefore not creating jobs, the majority of those using public assistance, and the list goes on.

An old timer once told me that “son, you see when you’re a loser nobody cares about you, nobody’s going to listen to you, nobody’s going to come to your rescue, and nobody’s going to hear you scream – everybody loves a winner.” People of color in this country (and yes even in Buffalo NY) are the invisible ones, 5th dimensional beings, those living in a parallel loser universe.

I won’t go into a ton of detail, but a huge chunk of this current predicament can be traced to their (African Americans, people of African descent) history and origins in this country as slaves. As has been well documented, and which has been happening until this very day – people of color have been trying to get equality, freedom, or some form of economic and civil rights in this hemisphere for hundreds of years. Under these circumstances it’s understandable why they are far behind everyone else in the winning categories.

With all this being said, I chuckled in some conversations with folks I knew in Buffalo (who are both black and white), and from recent conversations on social media, at the difference in service that one group or the other receives from the law. The white people I talked to were telling me about their issues with neighborhood crime and how they got an immediate response from the police, they talked to a police chief, a detective, a Navy Seal, an investigation is happening, and this and that is happening. One guy had his bike stolen and it was on the news, and the police had video footage. Another couple had some items stolen from their yard, and after only one day the police had several suspects rounded up. The black people I talked to told me about the police showing up hours after the initial call, or not showing up at all. And, in some cases if they did show up, they treated the caller as though they were the criminal. They were generally uncaring of the victim’s circumstances. One business owner I know had his business burglarized a few years ago. There was something like $8,000 worth of equipment stolen. The police told him to stop calling them about it, and there was no thorough investigation conducted or suspects rounded up. Another fellow returned home from work one night to find his apartment door kicked in. He learned that this didn’t happen as a result of a burglary, but it was from the Buffalo Police who came to the wrong address for a drug raid. They put the gentleman’s sick mother face down on the floor at gun point and ransacked the house looking for drugs that were never there. They treated his mother very rudely when they were there and when they were leaving. There was never any apology issued from the police about the incident.

While talking to all these people, I got the sense that those on the winning side were used to getting winning results from the police, while those on the losing side were used to getting loser results from the police. This all happened in the same city, but in two very different dimensions.

One’s ability to win or lose in this country isn't entirely based on your savvy and talents. Or, by simply just “pulling up your boot straps”, you have to have some help, and you have to have some support from whoever is in government to make some real noise in the winners column. If you don’t really exist as a human, or as a person to the powers that make things happen, you will continue to be a loser, your children will be losers, and your children’s, children will be losers. We’ve instituted a perpetual class of losers. I’m not saying that you have to like what being the difference between a winner and a loser is, you should most certainly understand it though.