If you’re Black, have you ever heard about some awful crime and thought to yourself, “I hope they ain’t Black?”
But in your guts you know they probably are?
As I read this story today even as my blood boiled, my heart sank:
DENVER — A Denver police officer trying to break up a confrontation was shot and killed Sunday at a city park where hundreds of families had gathered for a free weekly jazz concert before gunfire erupted and sent hundreds fleeing.
The officer, who was shot in the head, was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said. The Denver Post reported that one person has been taken into custody but added they had not been confirmed as a suspect.
NBC News station KUSA reported that officers were seen searching a dumpster near a lake on Sunday night.
According to the newspaper, the slain officer was a single mother who was originally from Detroit. She was a seven-year veteran of the police force, the Post reported.
At least three shots were fired shortly after the jazz band playing on a lake-side pavilion stage finished, sending waves of people running through park grounds where some concert-goers who were initially unaware of the shooting remained seated on picnic blankets and lawn chairs.
That sick, sad feeling began to settle in. I’ve seen this movie before and it never has a happy ending.
(Goddammit, why do these gun-toting, mouth-breathing, loser assholes always have to mess up everything.)
That was my initial thought.
Then I read more through the story looking for hints of the race of the cop and the shooter. There were no names, but mentioning the slain officer was a single-mother from Detroit sent up red flares.
(Shit. I bet she’s Black.)
Nothing provided a hint of the suspect’s race until I found a follow-up story in the Denver Post:
A 21-year-old man with a clean criminal record in Colorado on Monday was advised he is being investigated for the murder of Denver Police Officer Celena Hollis.
Police believe Rollen Oliver, 21, shot Hollis in the head when she responded to a report that two groups were fighting during the City Park Jazz concert Sunday night.
Monday morning he appeared at an advisement hearing.
He was escorted into the courtroom by six Denver deputies, all of whom had black and blue bands of mourning over their badges.
Oliver wore a red jail jumpsuit and had chains around his waist that were held by a deputy. He was handcuffed and shackled.
He is being held in the Denver jail without bond, facing first-degree murder charges.
Rollen Oliver. Yeah, he’s probably Black.
You look for the signs to figure out if it’s a White guy or Black guy.
Pedophile ring with thousands of images of kiddie porn on their computers? White guys.
Shooting between two groups at a concert/in the park/in a club/on the block? Black guys.
Guy goes into work and kills everyone he sees then shoots himself after a stand-off with cops? White guy.
Man walks into a inner city liquor store and puts two bullets in the head of the clerk and escapes with $50 bucks? Black guy.
Serial killer? White guy.
Deadbeat baby daddy who won’t take care of his ten kids with five different women? Black guy.
I tell myself nobody is responsible for the bad actors who shame themselves and by extension shame their entire race. I know in my rational and logical mind there is no reason to think this way. No one, no matter how noble or evil or foolish represents or reflects on every other member of a racial or ethnic group.
The journalist Carl T. Rowan sagely observed, A minority group has “arrived” only when it has the right to produce some fools and scoundrels without the entire group paying for it.
Logically, sure, I know this to be true, but the failures of Black people are so often shoved under my nose, I find myself actively craving and seeking the success stories just to remind myself we’re ALL not thugs, criminals, psychos and human garbage.
The Black race has produced philosophers, healers, entertainers, scientists, politicians, athletes and other men and women of distinction that have made the world a better place.
It needs more like Celina Hollis and a lot less like Rollen Oliver because fools and scoundrels like him make us all look bad. We have to produce a hundred Martin Luther Kings to make up for one Rollen Oliver.
I shouldn’t feel embarrassed for every Black person, but when I know how this kind of tragedy will be seen (and spun) as Blacks killing, Blacks being violent, Blacks doing stupid shit, Blacks proving every horrible stereotype about us is true, I do feel embarrassed for every Black person who doesn’t kill, who isn’t violent, who do smart stuff and prove every horrible stereotype about us is false.
After all, do White people ever feel a sense of collective guilt that Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer and Lee Harvey Oswald and Jerry Sandusky are White? No such shame in their game.
W.E.B. DuBois said, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men (and women, I would amend).” DuBois was speaking of a “Talented Tenth” percent of the race that would rescue the rest of the race. It sounds a bit elitist, but DuBois was fundamentally correct it’s the exceptional people of a race that inspire and lead the rest of the race.
I don’t know if Celena Hollis was exceptional, but I’m certain Rollen Oliver was not.
I keep hoping they ain’t Black but I am seldom surprised and continually disappointed once I know they are.
- Denver Police officer killed at City Park identified, arrest made (kdvr.com)
- Former Detroit police officer killed at Denver City Park (clickondetroit.com)
- Slain Denver police officer Celena Hollis a respected crime fighter (denverpost.com)