CSUSB Conversations on Race and Policing
By Dianne Anderson
In the nearly two decades that Dr. Mary Texeira has taught at Cal State University, San Bernardino, she never ceases to be amazed at how so many students missed the grade school lesson on 250 years of slavery in America.
Once they learn the backstory, they seem perplexed, trying to process the new information.
They are struggling.
“They say to me ‘if this had happened I would have known about it before now. If people were enslaved for 250 years and it was a cruel system, my elders would not have kept that from me,’” she said.
That it has been kept quiet for so long is no surprise. From grade school through high school, she said the pages of slavery are sanitized, and kept to the bare minimum, or omitted.
“Go into any random history textbook and you can see about a half-page of 250 years of slavery,” said Dr. Texeira, who is teaching her very last sociology class this year on race and racism of 250 students before her retirement.
Since the police murder of George Floyd, she has hosted virtual weekly lectures on Conversations on Race and Policing. She and other educators meet each Wednesday and cover a wide range of topics and experts.
One event was on the push to close Rikers Island prison where Kalif Browder, a young Black youth languished three years without a trial for stealing a backpack, a crime he consistently denied. He committed suicide from mental illness after years of beatings from guards and inmates and extended solitary confinement.
In an ever-growing list of officer-involved killings of Black men, Amir Locke, 22 years, was killed this month by a SWAT raid on a no-knock warrant. Just a few weeks before, witnesses reported that Jason Walker, 37, was hit by an off-duty officer in an F-150 truck, and then shot.
By contrast, she said white teens like Kyle Rittenhouse were greeted and escorted by police as he walked down the street with an AR15 strapped to his shoulder after he shot and killed two people, and badly injured another.
“What if that was one of our kids walking down the street with an AR15?” she asks.
White supremacist Dylann Roof walked into a historically Black Charleston church and killed nine elders during a Bible study. Police bought him a cheeseburger after his arrest on the way to the station because he said he was hungry.
Last week, Kim Potter, a white seasoned officer of 24 years was sentenced to 24 months in the killing of Daunte Wright on a traffic stop.
“W. E. B. Du Bois wrote what does it feel like to always be seen as a problem?” she said. “Clearly statistically, we are not the problem, from the government’s own reports. The problem is white supremacy. A lot of them who are invading the police department.”
As horrible as the incidents are, Dr. Texeira is grateful that technology is providing indisputable evidence on camera of the kinds of countless killings that have been going on for hundreds of years.
The root of the issue, she said, is police still see Black people – not white people – as a crime.
White supremacy is also at the base of heavy criticism of critical race theory and the 1619 project, which is the reason why so many in her classes are shocked to learn the truth.
“They don’t want their children to know the truth of history, and that’s all that critical race theory is,” she said.
Dr. Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodríguez, said police killings of the Black, Brown and Indigenous community have been happening from the foundation of the colonized nation.
“It’s never changed,” said Rodriguez, project director of the Raza Killing Database at CSUSB, who initiated the project to collect accurate numbers.
He believes most of the police killings are in California, as opposed to other states, and the data will bear it out. Eventually, he wants to see those cases go before the United Nations, not just as a racist system, which he said they already know, but where the cases are heard and the statute of limitations never runs out.
“This society is sick. They do not see us as human beings,” he said. “Personally, I think the only way the killings will stop is that if the cops get a minimum of 30 years in prison.”
During the late ’70s, Rodriguez, a writer and photojournalist with Low Rider magazine, was trying to get a photograph one opening night. The man he was photographing was chased down and beaten by police.
Rodriguez was also beaten by police in the head, rendered unconscious in an incident that has caused him decades of PTSD. In a rare win, he won both of his trials.
“I was 24. It was a long time ago, but the trauma was heavy because I got arrested about 60 times afterward. The heavy trauma was bad,” he said.
He also expects the Raza Killing Database to show an undercount of killings in the Latino community, but it will track Black, Brown and Indigenous killing by police nationwide.
“Absolutely, the three communities. The reality is that we track every killing from 2000 to May 10 . We’ll release the final report when we have the data for the rest of ,” he said.
Much of what he sees by way of police abuse stems from the growing population of people of color in the nation, he said, and a fear that the tables could be turned in the not so distant future.
“I think they know, but they have fear that they’re going to be displaced. They can see how people of color have been treated in this country, always,” he said.
To join in the ongoing Conversations on Race and Policing, see https://www.csusb.edu/corp
To see the Raza Killing Database, see https://www.csusb.edu/lead/raza-database-project
To see the list of Black Americans killed by police, https://sayevery.name/