Baby video a cycle of black ‘thuggery’ or police concern trolling?

Video still shot courtesy of
Video still shot courtesy of

There’s been some recent controversy surrounding a viral video uploaded by the caregivers of a child (and later posted to Facebook by the Omaha Police Officers Union). In the video, family members and others use profanities and teach obscene language to a sponge-like toddler.

The child is heard repeating the phrases “bitch n*gga” and “suck my d*ck.” The present caregivers are asking the child ridiculous questions like “show us what hood you from, blood?!” The child also flips off the camera person multiple times.

The video has drawn many critics. Some claim what the police did was right and others say their actions were racist. The Facebook post wrote,

“We here at viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in. Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly ‘illegal,’ we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint.”

However, according to CNN, Willie Hamilton of a local activist group said the actions by the police union “crossed a line by doing this.”

He added,

“For them to take a video out of context — a 2-year-old who doesn’t have the brain capacity to know what’s going on — and to say that this child, because two adults acted inappropriately, is going to end up in a life of crime is totally inappropriate.”

Not long after this story drew the attention of a nation still weening itself from the high from the George Zimmerman trial, the media talked to the 16-year-old mother of the child and said,

“He’s a smart little boy. All that cussing that he did, he doesn’t do that. Somebody told him to do that. My son doesn’t do that. I don’t allow it.”

Then the police removed the child and three other children from the home and placed them into child protective custody. An information request by KETV revealed that the family allowed gang members to enter the home after the state had offered to pay the family change locations due to gang activity.

Finally a juvenile court judge decided to hand the children back to the mother and ordered the family live in foster case.

First, let me start by saying that this is a sad case of poor parenting and children having children. It’s tough to watch this drama unfold, not just for blacks, but it should be difficult for everyone. However, I question whether or not the majority of people who watch this video will feel some form of sympathy or if this will justify the racist thoughts some Americans have about minorities — especially when they leave comments like this:

Comment left on KETV's comment section.
Comment left on KETV’s comment section.

Because the police in Nebraska haven’t treated minority communities equally in recent years (Nebraska police search minorities six to seven times more than whites and the police are in hot water after this video of what looks like excessive use of force went viral), the reposting of this controversial video by OPOU leaves me wondering what the real intent was by the police.

Though what the caregivers at the time this video shot were wrong to not only post the video online (and the mother is obviously wrong about not allowing this happen) but to encourage the toddler to partake in obscene language and gestures, does this excuse the behavior of the police union? The police union posted the same video their Facebook page without the face of the minor blurred out.  That move to link an innocent child to comments from police about “violence” and “thuggery” is not only unprofessional, but it’s inconsiderate.

For the people who think this video is helpful, I ask, who is this video helpful for? A police department should want to see a healthy image of all members of the community. I don’t think a black person would see this video and want to rally to support their local police department. Is this video going to lead to positive discussion about race? If anything, this video is helpful to the police because it makes it look like they’re dealing with violent blacks (I’ll get to the point about “violence” later). It gives them a sort of excuse for treating minorities unlawfully.

Choosing to put out a video highlighting community concerns is one thing, but choosing to push examples of black delinquency (which really highlights juvenile idiocy) over the delinquency of other races, however, can be easily taken for racist.

If anything, this demonstrates poor caregiving, not thuggery or a “cycle of violence.” There’s nothing violent about dumb teenager and young adults swearing around a child. But the police have chosen to label this behavior as potentially violent.

As Huffington Post and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill said in a discussion with CNN anchor Don Lemon: The example is always black.

Why is the Omaha PD focusing on thugs in the black community? For a midwestern state like Nebraska to be showing negative and stereotypical images of people that account for less than 5 percent of the total state population is lazy and highly selective. You mean to tell me that the other 95 percent of the races in the state don’t get a video posted to the union’s website either?

First off, the police have no right to tell any household how to raise their own children — they shouldn’t be involved in any person’s caregiving unless a child is consistently being abused (verbally or physically) or the caregivers ask for help. The actions by the older person in the video are reprehensible, but when an arm of the government has been known to treat minorities poorly, you don’t get to put out a hit-piece video and then call it community organizing. This seems more like an example of the police shaming a black child (and community) while labeling this behavior as thug as if there are no white families that treat their children just as bad — as if this child has no future to become something other than a thug.

What is happening in Nebraska with crime where the police think this is proper and necessary conduct on their behalf?

There has been a lot of tension between the treatment of minorities from the police department. According to CNN,

“But in a city where police officers’ treatment of minorities led to lawsuits, criminal charges against two officers and the firings and reassignments of several others in the past year, critics say the video is poking at raw wounds.”

I find it difficult to believe a police video that highlights the negative stereotypes of a community is being done out of genuine concern. Why not highlight the positives of a community? Police department are aware of repercussions of an image, which is why there’s tension among police when they are being video recorded. A video that appeared online from a Nebraska citizen a few days ago shows what can happen when a department’s image is tampered with. If anything, this video reminds me of a what the kids today call a concern troll, meaning that maybe the person who seems concerned is really trying to compensate for polar opposite stereotypes by displaying false sympathy.

What kind of discussion did we really think will arise from a video focused on a black baby in a household where a negative environment has been created? Do we really think people would want to help this family out or that it will reinforce negative stereotypes leading people to think, “Well, you know how those people are”?

Also, the union said that this shows the “terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in.” What violence did we see? I heard immoral and deplorable words, but didn’t see any violence. If you’re going to say that this represents the cycle of violence, you’d better show a video where there is some actual violence (unless at the time of posting, the police union assumed the child was beat or knew something we didn’t).

I find the quote by a union member to be the most interesting part of the story. He said he hopes it gives people a glance at what the department deals with on a daily basis. Going back to my point about percentages, blacks account for less than five percent of the state population. Either the police are focusing on a narrow scope of the community or the black community is inherently more violent than the other 95 percent of the state.

Maybe I’m looking too hard into this and the police union will also release videos of poor parenting and thuggery from other races.

However, make no mistake, police are necessary and there are those who do their job morally. In fact, I’m inclined to believe a majority do what’s right, but this example is an example of what’s wrong with our dialogue today. Blacks and minorities are automatically viewed by the police a troubled people. The police believe that either they have to get involved and save us from ourselves, or we’re bound to be destitute without their intervention.

This is why it is so important that we have black figures in prominent roles (movies, police departments, newspaper heads, etc.) so that we can create positive black images and reinforce positive black choices. We can teach ourselves that the only people that will save us from a decline in self are each one of us.


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