The officers who killed Freddie Gray have finally been formally charged with murder and manslaughter.
Three of the six officers are African-American. The most serious charges have been leveled against Caesar Goodson. He too is African-American.
The White Right, Fox News, and other Right-wing propaganda outlets are obsessing over the fact that three of the Baltimore police who have been charged with killing Freddie Gray are African-American. This obsession is part of the same paraphilia that has the White Right deflecting the role that racism and classism played in the killing of Freddie Gray because Baltimore is a city whose political leaders are African-American.
Because of how the White Right and movement conservatives are simplistic binary thinkers who live in an alternate reality where white people are victims of "racism", global warming is not real, Obama is a "Socialist", cutting taxes for the rich produces economic growth for the rest of society, Christians are "under siege" in America, and other conspiranoid delusions, they possess a pronounced inability to understand nuance or context.
Thus, movement conservatives and the White Right, to the degree they can be separated from one another, are unable to practice systems level thinking and analysis: concepts such as "institutional power" are lost on them.
Individuals navigate their relationship(s) with systems of power. Cultural institutions such as the police have a set of rules and norms that govern how they socialize their members. Those learned values influence how the police relate to those outside of their subculture.
The United States is a racist society. By implication, its dominant political, social, economic, and other cultural institutions will to varying degrees reflect those norms.
The origins of America's police are found in the slave patrol.
America's police have continued in that tradition by acting as agents of social control who harass and discriminate against black and brown Americans.
African-Americans and other people of color who join America's police departments are not immune or outside of that subculture's norms and values. Because they are the Other in a socio-cultural institution that has historically worked to oppress non-whites (and the poor, as well as the outgroup, more generally) black cops may actually have to perform those roles in a more exaggerated and gross way in order to prove their bonafides.
If White Supremacy and Whiteness were a religion or a cult (and they do share some of those traits) black American cops would most likely be the new converts, the overzealous, the great true believers, the most devout who are desperate to show their allegiance to the faith.
Human history is replete with examples of how members of an oppressed or marginalized group laid down with Power for personal gain, to make life easier for themselves, or other selfish reasons.
The black Baltimore cops who have been charged with murdering Freddie Gray can trace their political and social lineage back to the "slave drivers" of chattel slavery in the West:
The difference between the overseer and the DRIVER was simple: drivers were slaves themselves. A driver might be convinced by a master to manage the slaves for better privileges. Drivers were usually hated by the rest of the slaves. These feelings often led to violence.The black slave driver had a specialized role:
The position of a slave driver was very rare. Slave drivers were enslaved black men that directed the daily work of the slaves. They held the responsibility of overseeing the work of their fellow slaves as well as enforcing punishments for misbehaving. It is estimated that only 1 in 260 slaves was a driver. Plantations with fewer than 100 slaves rarely ever had a slave driver.The black slave driver's job was precarious:
Drivers were another story. They were slaves appointed by masters to positions of authority on the plantation. Where masters were resident, black drivers often replaced overseers. On larger plantations, especially in the Lower South, black drivers worked under the supervision of white overseers. The drivers' jobs were manifold, but they were expected above all to maintain discipline in the fields and order in the quarters.Black slave drivers could also have a great amount of power over a given plantation. Some white plantation owners would even allow their black drivers to manage and run the day-to-day operation of the plantation in their absence.
Like overseers, drivers were subjected to competing pressures that demanded both technical skill and a strong measure of self-confidence. But the pressures on drivers were different in important ways. Drivers were a part of the slave community, but they were especially favored by the master. To maintain the goodwill of the master without losing the respect of one's fellow slaves was no small achievement. Yet the evidence suggests that the drivers often succeeded where the overseers failed. They were chosen for their intelligence and abilities; they often understood how to manage a plantation more effectively than the overseers. Accordingly, drivers often held their positions for decades. The masters came to rely on the drivers for their competence; the slaves came to expect the drivers to moderate some of the harshness of the regime.
Because black drivers existed in a type of liminal space between the white masters and their fellow slaves, many black drivers could be especially violent and cruel--even by the standards of the horrific slave plantation labor system--in the conduct of their duties.
In the following section from a correspondence between George Skipwith, a black driver, and John Hopewell Cocke, his white owner, Skipwith details the whipping he gave to an "impudent" slave:
when I come to them at twelve o clocke, they had cut me nineteen roes, and it would not take them more than ten minits to cut one roe as Shedrack was the ruler among them, I spoke these words to him. you do not intend to cut these oats untill I whip every one of you. Shedrack did not say any thing to me, but Robert spoke these words saying that he knoed when he worked. I told him to shut his lips and if he spoke another worde I would whip him right of[f] but he spoke again the second time saying that he was not afraid of being whiped by no man. I then gave him a cut with the whip. he then flong down his cradle, and made a oath and said that he had as live die as to live and he said that he did not intend to stay here. he then tried to take the whip out of my hand, but I caught him fast by the collar and holed him. I then told the other boys to stripe him and they don so I then whiped untell I thought that he was pretty could but I was desieved for as soon as I leave him and went to the hoe hands, he come of to the house to our preacher15 and his family becaus he knoed that they would protect him in his Rascality for he had herd that they had said that they were worked to death, and that they were lowed no more chance for liveing than if they were dogs or hogs...
Cocke would eventual relieve Skipwith of his responsibilities as a slave driver because of the latter's "radical depravity", selling Skipwith and his family "down the river" to Mississippi.
The reaction by the White Right and their media to the killing of Freddie Gray by three black police officers has provided an interesting insight into their political worldview and cognitive schema.
Racism and conservatism are merged in the Age of Obama and the post civil rights era. Thus, anti-black animus colors the political decision-making and thinking of movement conservatives.
Will hostility to black people more generally trump their loyalty and authoritarian predisposition to police and police authority?
Or will anti-black animus be focused on Freddie Gray and the black young people who participated in the Baltimore uprising because White America's fantasies and fixation on "race riots" and "black crime" have such a powerful hold on the White racial imagination?
Consequently, the black cops who killed Freddie Gray will be valorized alongside their white thug compatriots by the White Right and Republicans because this freakish interracial union of police violence is somehow "proof" for white conservatives (and other colorblind racists) that white supremacy no longer exists in the post civil rights era.
America's much discussed and tired "national conversation" on race has been conducted at a first grade level for most of the post civil rights era. There is still some hope--however weak--that the election (twice) of Barack Obama, changing demographics, globalization, and the interracial coalition of young people who are mobilizing against police thuggery and the Culture of Cruelty, will elevate America's moribund and tedious "national conversation" on race to the third or fourth grade level.
Movement conservatives and the White Right are still stuck in remedial classes on matters of justice, the colorline, and the Common Good: if American conservatives do not improve their performance they will be flunked out of school and sent to find other means of educating themselves.
Generational replacement offers some hope for progress. Unfortunately, that solution is also proving to be a tenuous one.