Black people have adopted a whole new method of self-defense in the form of cell phone videos, and apparently, that’s a problem for some people.
The set of The Daily Blast was recently the battleground for an odd and infuriating debate. The hosts of the show started talking about a CVS manager who called the cops on a Black woman for trying to use a coupon, but things took a hard left when Beau Davidson got upset that the victim filmed “Coupon Carl’s” antics. Beau and his lopsided shag cut were the physical embodiment of every online commenter who tries to advocate for obviously racist behavior using the logic “we don’t know all the facts.” Erica Cobb, his co-host, therefore, had no choice but to check Davidson for his ridiculous argument. He had already been defending Coupon Carl, but when he assumed the victim had actually been harassing him Cobb had enough. According to Davidson, the Black woman must have done something to provoke Carl. It couldn’t possibly be that the CVS manager overreacted.
It only got worse from there as Davidson got upset over the fact that victims of racism have gotten into the habit of filming these run-ins. We don’t have to explain how very telling it is that he would get more upset about that documentation than the acts of racism themselves. But the short of it is the host is perfectly fine with bigotry, and uncomfortable with the idea of people being held accountable for their prejudice behavior.
Unlike in the past, racism and bigotry now come with consequences — usually. Racists can’t just get away with attacking people of color. But, often times, the only way victims ever see justice is to get video of their incident. Getting caught on camera harassing or threatening people in a racially charged manner could cost perpetrators dearly. Aside from well-deserved public ridicule, bigots have lost jobs because of their racist behavior. Just ask the former owner of Papa John’s Pizza.
But video is not only a form of self-defense, it’s also an act of peaceful protest. We’ve done sit-ins. We’ve boycotted. We’ve put our hands up and asked that cops don’t shoot. We’ve taken knees. Now, we’re capturing video and taking it to social media in droves. Nearly every week there is a new video chronicling a confrontation involving a white person verbally attacking or attempting to police a person of color in some way. Cops have been called on Black people for the most innocuous reasons. Not even children are safe mowing lawns, selling water, or running a hot dog stand.
As Cobb pointed out to her co-host in the video above, Black skin has been weaponized. No matter what act a Black person is engaged in, it is seen as a threat. This concept, of course, was difficult for Davidson to comprehend as he suggested Black folks should simply “take race out of it,” which is white privilege at it’s finest. Black people would love to take race out of a lot of things, but we don’t have that luxury. It is stressful to realize that the moment I step out of my home I need to be on guard because I might have the cops called on me for no good reason. And if that happens, what defense do I have but my word? While the truth should be enough to protect me, we know that it may not even be considered in determining my guilt or innocence on the spot. Video of an incident, however, is indisputable evidence, despite rulings from many courts that have concluded otherwise.
In a social climate where Black people seemingly have fewer options for acceptable self-defense, getting footage of what happened in a given confrontation is invaluable. It supports our claims in an unbiased way. Like many of his ignorant and privileged ilk, Davidson argues all we need to do is be calm and respectful and compliant to survive an encounter with authorities. Apparently, he hasn’t heard of Philando Castile or Charles Kinsey? The only way we knew that these men were innocent is because there was video of their police encounter. Sadly, that’s the only defense many of us have in a world that always presumes us guilty until footage proves us innocent.