1.3 Miles With Clyde Bennett III - 007
The blog is going to look a bit different this time around. Let’s hop in.
A Day in the Life
I will preface this piece by giving you a little information about who I am. As you know, my name is Clyde Bennett III. I’m a 21-year-old African American male at The Ohio State University. I major in finance and minor in fashion and retail studies. Growing up, I went to a private grade school that consisted of 45% white students, 45% black students, and 10% other ethnicities.After grade school, I attended Cincinnati Country Day, a predominately white school in Indian Hill, Ohio. For most of my life I’ve lived in Mason, OH – a suburb north of downtown Cincinnati.
My parents worked hard to allow me to have such a diverse background. I can confidently say that I am well versed around the majority of people, because I have been around so many different kinds of people (race, religion, gender, etc.) My acquaintances and close friends have always been very diverse and still are to this day. I see others for who they are, no matter their outward countenance.
There have been three events over the past few months that have struck me personally. One, being the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, another being the death of George Floyd, and the last being the situation in Central Park involving a white woman and a black man.
Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was a 25-year-old African American male living in Georgia. He decided to go on a run. As he was running, Arbery was pursued and shot by two white men in a neighborhood street. A struggle ensued as Ahmaud Arbery realized he either had to fight for his life or die. Unfortunately, one of the men rattled off 3 shots into Arbery, leaving him to die in the street.
George Floyd was a 46-year-old African American male living in Minneapolis (the location of my now virtual internship). George didn’t live a rich or poor life. It seems he had an average current lifestyle and was happy with where he was at in life. During a routine arrest for allegedly forging a check, police claim that Floyd “resisted arrest”. The video that has come out shows otherwise. Once Floyd was taken to the ground, a white cop put his knee into the 46-year-old’s back and neck. George Floyd repeatedly stated that he “couldn’t breathe”, but his cries for help fell on deaf (racist) ears. He died in that Minneapolis street under the knee of an MPD officer. There were three other cops on the scene that did nothing to help George.
Christian Cooper is a 57-year-old African American male living in New York. Cooper is a prominent bird watcher in NYC, a Harvard graduate, and a board member of the New York City Audubon Society. While walking in Central Park around 8:00 am, Christian Cooper came across Amy Cooper (no relation), a woman walking her dog. In this particular part of Central Park, all dogs must be leashed. Mr. Cooper asked Amy Cooper to leash her dog, but she refused. Christian then decided to offer her dog a treat as he carries them for “such intransigence”. Mr. Cooper began recording the interaction on his iPhone. Amy Cooper asked him to stop filming her and then told him she will call the police and claim that she is being threatened by “an African American”. She is heard saying, “I am being threatened by an African America man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!” This woman even adds a shrill effect to her voice to make it sound like she is in massive danger. As this goes on, the camera keeps rolling. Christian Cooper’s sister posted the video afterwards, and it went viral.
What happened to George Floyd is what Amy Cooper hoped would happen to Christian Cooper. She used her white privilege as a weapon. She assured the police that she was being threatened by a black man specifically, when there was no threat at all. Ms. Cooper hoped that the cops would move quickly to detain and abuse a black man. Lucky for Mr. Cooper, he was filming. But what if he was not filming? What if his phone had died? Would he be under a police officer’s knee begging for his life?
These interactions scare me. I ask myself, “What can I do to assure that I do not become a victim of police brutality?” There is no answer. Ahmaud Arbery went for a jog. Something I have grown to enjoy during this quarantine. Am I not supposed to jog? George Floyd obeyed the police officers’ orders. I listen to police officers’ orders. Am I supposed to be pleading for my life? Christian Cooper is a college educated black man that enjoys walks in Central park. I personally love walking in Central Park. Is my life supposed to be threatened? It is a tough pill to swallow, but it has become apparent to me that you don’t have to do ANYTHING to die as an African American in this country. I may sound naïve for just realizing this after Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, etc. but that’s okay. I now see. What did these three black men do that I should avoid doing? Nothing. Am I next?
To be black in America is to be aware that your life is viewed as less valuable by some. It is very scary to think that we live next to the same people that hate and fear us. At times, it can feel like an unachievable battle. A month from now, people will forget about Ahmaud Arbery, but I won’t. I will remember him every time I see a police officer, every time I go for a jog, and every day I wake up. That’s a burden that some people just can’t understand, but us black men live with every day.
Why do people fear me? Because the color of my skin? I am a nice kid, from a great family, but the color of my skin throws that all out the window. Not every non-black person acts this way. I understand that and want to make that clear. I will not generalize a group of people for some’s actions, but I will acknowledge that racism is much more prevalent than many may believe. I love my country and I love human life, but we can all look into the mirror and ask ourselves what we can do to make the world a better place.
A message to people that are not African American: You should feel guilty if you agree with what occurred in these 3 interactions, or you don’t understand why those three situations are wrong. If you do not sympathize and are not outraged with what has been happening in our country to African Americans, then you are part of the problem. The shift from “I’m not racist” to “I Am anti-racist” must start now. You all should want to understand the African American perspective. We, African Americans, have had to understand other perspectives our whole lives. As an African American, the higher you go up in the world, the more you have to
understand other races ways of life and perspectives. So, is it really that tough to read up and ask your friends “Hey, what’s going on in the world and what can we do better?". Justice will not be served until those unaffected are as outraged as those who are! The proof is in the pudding. It’s time for a change and it will take all of us.
Malcolm X is quoted saying, “We believe that our problem is not one of civil rights but a violation of human rights. Not only are we denied the right to be a citizen in the United States – we are denied the right the be a human being.” Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. His quote remains relevant in 2020.
I’ll end this piece with something that I have thought about for a while. Will America/groups of people ever love black people as much as they love black culture? How can one be scared to stand next to a black man on the street, but have a Lebron James jersey in their closet? How can one listen to Drake every day, but cross the street when a black man walks towards them?
What are you scared of? If you are going to consume black culture when it’s ‘cool’ to do so, consume it when it’s ‘hard’ as well. Speak up.
This is not white versus black. It is the world versus racism. You don’t have to be black to feel outraged. It’s not the oppressors place, to tell the oppressed how to react. Silence, condones violence.
As always, I welcome questions, retorts, comments, and perspectives. You can reach me on Instagram @clydebennettiii and Twitter @Clyde_Bennett. Black is beautiful. White is beautiful.
Latino is beautiful. Asian is beautiful. And the list goes on. Let us love.
Photography: Devon Pitts