¨Latest census figures show black people make up the biggest single ethnic group in Oakland at 27.3%, with white people at 25.9% and Hispanics at 25.4%¨ (Paul Harris). If the number of black, white, and latino individuals in Oakland are the same then why is there a disproportionate amount of police violence towards people of color?
People of color are oppressed by police because they are misunderstood and therefore are unfairly treated by the system. In the article, “Oakland police: controversial history sets tone for city’s discord” by Paul Harris it reports, “The 17-year-old Black Panther party member was involved in a shootout with police, but surrendered and stripped down to his underwear to show he was unarmed. However, he died after being shot by police at least 12 times” (Harris). This quote indicates police automatically mistreated the black man even though they knew he was unarmed. He was poorly treated by the system which proves people of color are misunderstood and portrayed as bad people simply for their darker complection. If it was a white male at the crime scene possibly the police wouldn’t feel the need to enter the scene armed because they are the “good” people.
Secondly, People of color are being oppressed because they are portrayed as bad people for trying to keep a roof above their head. In an interview with Abraham Arredondo, who has lived in Oakland for 6 years, he stated, “Just like any other kid struggling I had to do what I had to do to eat everyday of my life n 5-O labeled me as a bad kid” (Arredondo). This quote proves some people of color have been living a hard life. For example, being abandoned by parents which means you have to find a way to survive. Not all people of color chose to live this way but for others it may seem easier to do anything for a little change. Therefore, they aren’t bad people or kids they’re just hurting and oppressing them even more won’t solve anything.
Finally, People of color are being dehumanized while white people have many privileges In an interview with Gloria Elizabeth Reyes, she explained, “I was in the car with a black woman… My good friends mom and she was going at the speed limit, she wasn’t using her phone. She didn’t do anything bad and she got pulled over. The police said she had ran a red light and there wasn’t any recent red lights” (Reyes). Based on this information I know this woman only got pulled over for looking “different” for her skin tone. It is well known if you have light skin, colored eyes and blonde hair you will live an easier life in public areas.
Some people may argue people of color are not being oppressed simply because in California there’s a variety of different ethnicities and are not being shut out like past times. However, people of color still experience oppression today with authorities. They are treated differently because of the way they look in comparison white people are the “normal” people. The people that don’t talk in slang with a good education. For this reason I believe arguing people of color are not being oppressed is completely inaccurate. The community of white people is privileged in some ways.
In conclusion, people of color are unfairly treated because of the way they look and it must stop because all people are equal in this world.
Photo by Elvert Barnes
Oakland: Police Relations by Katie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.