Athletics, especially football, emphasize strength. We who inhabit a normal range of physiques may find it difficult to imagine just how overwhelming it would be to encounter up close and personal a 300-pound man standing well over six feet and capable of running twice as fast as the Rest of Us. Watching such people perform extraordinary feats on the gridiron tends to inure us to the sheer magnitude of their physical attributes. Besides, they do their thing on a relatively tiny screen, pixels removed from our eyes.
But suppose you were walking down the street and you see such a specimen before you. Let’s modify his outward appearance, giving him ragged, dirty clothes, a large, unkempt beard, and behaviors we deem odd. Now, let’s place him in front of your local Starbucks. He sits there, perhaps even sleeps there overnight. He doesn’t belong, you say to yourself. He doesn’t fit in. Someone aims to do something about this awkward presence by calling the police, who approach and investigate. Finding no criminal activity, the police depart. No harm. No foul. But the man won’t leave.
Finally, another call to police, and this time the attending officers somehow lose control of the situation. A skittish officer pulls his gun and fires ten rounds into the man previously presumed harmless. Problem solved.
I am recounting a real-life event, via ginandtacos.com. The blogger writes:
…What interests me more is the fact that, once a cop reached the (questionable, but let’s accept it as valid for the sake of argument) conclusion that deadly force was not only justified but necessary, [Dontre] Hamilton was shot ten times in a matter of seconds. Ten bullets were necessary to neutralize the threat posed by one outnumbered homeless man.
The author suggests that the image of a superhuman black man capable of “tossing cars” and posing an existential threat to a bunch of armed policemen may have been the product of watching too much professional football. Ginandtacos:
Could Dontre Hamilton, armed with a stick, kill two armed police officers? Of course he can, if those police officers buy into the stereotypes of large black males as athletes who can toss other 300 pound men around like matchsticks.
But at least the path to our morning coffee will now be convenient. Until, of course, the next oversized black man finds nowhere else to rest his pathetic bones.