May 20, 2022

Deputy Matt & Others Who Serve

The individual voices and opinions of some first responders

Racism or Excuses?

I will be 51 years old here in another month.  I used to be a cop.

I grew up in a racially diverse neighborhood in a middle class neighborhood in Sacramento, CA during the ‘70s and ‘80s.  I played sports in the street and the nearby park with my friends from the neighborhood, which included whites, blacks, Mexicans (from Mexico), Filipinos, Japanese, and one kid whose parents were an inter-racial couple. None of us treated the others as different.  None of us ever called one another racist names.  Yes, we got into fights over stupid crap, but we shook hands when it was over and continued being friends.

None of us thought the others were racist.

I went to a high school where there were very few black students.  Two of the four black guys in my class were in my group of friends, and one of them introduced me to biscuits and gravy (Thank you Marty!).  In fact, the only guy I heard during those four years use the N word was the guy who introduced me to biscuits and gravy, and it was as he complimented me on my MacGuyver like skills by calling me “the best n****r rigger he ever met.”

I was never once accused of being racist.

After high school, I attended college and worked a large number of jobs.  During two summers while I was out of school, I worked for the Sacramento County Highways and Bridges department doing road work.  I worked with a bunch of rough guys from rough backgrounds, about half of whom were minorities of varying skin darkness.  They all knew I was going to school as a criminal justice major and wanted to be a cop.  My nickname was “5-0.”

Not a single one of them ever thought I was racist.

I worked as a bank teller for a bank on which all of the Sacramento County welfare checks were drawn, and the branch I worked at was in the ghetto in an area predominantly made up of blacks and Hispanics.  In the time I worked there, I cashed millions of dollars of welfare checks for people of color.

I was never once accused of racism.

After graduating from college, I entered the Sacramento Sheriff’s Academy.  At the time, I lived in some crappy apartments near Fulton and El Camino.  For those familiar with the area, I lived in the apartments at 2807 Elvyra Way.   My former coworkers who work District 4 will know that address well.  The residents of that complex were a large mix of ethnicities, but about half of them were black.

No one ever called me racist.

After completing the academy, I got hired as an on-call deputy.  The picture above is my 96 year old grandfather pinning my badge on me at my swearing in.  I started work at the Sacramento County Main Jail the following Sunday.

Suddenly, I was being accused of being a racist because I was enforcing the jail rules.

Throughout my 22 career, on my weekends, I would interact with peoples of all skin colors, religions, political affiliations, sexual orientations, etc.  My three sons (who are minorities themselves, as is my wife) had the usual collection of school activities, sporting events, boy scouts, and so on.

Never once, at any of those activities, in 18 years of raising kids, did anyone think to accuse me of being a racist.

Back at work, as soon as I put on that uniform and dared to stop a reckless driver, who happened to be black, suddenly I was a racist.

When I showed up to the grocery store to take the black parolee who got caught by store security shoplifting, all captured on surveillance camera, suddenly I was a racist honky pig.

Odd how I suddenly become racist depending on the clothing I wear…

But then, not one of my black, Hispanic, Indian, middle eastern or other non-white coworkers ever thought I was racist.

Then again, they were probably too busy worrying about the people accusing them of being either racists or traitors to their own race to worry about me.

In fact, a couple of my black co-workers came up to me and thanked me for writing a rebuttal to Sacramento’s mayor (at the time), Kevin Johnson, after he went on a tirade complaining about the racist cops.

Now that I am retired, I guess I get to go back to not being a racist anymore?

So I am curious what the readers think.  Is it racism, or is racism just an easy go-to accusation to try and deflect personal responsibility?