Despite what some may assume, celebrity, money, and popularity do not shield anyone from learned, ingrained, systemic racism. Michael Bennett, defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, found this out firsthand when he was physically accosted, threatened and traumatized by Las Vegas Police a couple of weeks ago.
Like many, Bennett was in Las Vegas during the much anticipated Conner McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fight when he was rushed by police, violently apprehended with excessive force and threatened with a drawn weapon. There was an apparent crime that had been committed nearby and Bennett matched the description of the assailant.
In his open letter to the world below, Bennett describes what happened to him that night. Racial profiling is widespread, this particular victim just so happened to have a platform to condemn and shed light on this atrocity. Contrarians seem to think that the path to justice is linear and fair. People of color, namely black people, know this isn’t the case. We are victims of “wrong place, wrong time” scenarios relentlessly.
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
What’s so chilling about these situations is their ability to traumatize the victim and entire communities who struggle to conceptualize the danger and unfair targeting of those who look like us, regardless of status and bank account. Economic privilege does not protect black people from being shamed, abused or fearing for their life. Some of the most prolific and recognizable black faces like Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L Jackson, and Morgan Freeman have experienced overt racism despite incredible fame.
Now, Michael Bennett can speak from a first-hand perspective about the racial injustices in this country that Colin Kaepernick has been highlighting and protesting for quite some time. Ironically, Bennett was one of the NFL players that regularly sit down during the national anthem before games; he now has a cruel, firsthand experience of why such protests are so vital.
The trauma sustained when someone is racially profiled, abused, threatened or beaten because of their race permeates and affects them deeply. Sometimes for their entire lives. The post traumatic stress incurred by the victims, the shock and horror that bystanders and witnesses endure is unending and often insurmountable. The issue is vast and multifaceted, the solution may seem complicated, but the lasting effects on the psyche are something we need to discuss more thoroughly.
Fearing for your life and safety as a black person in America drained mental wellness in a way that needs to be addressed and rectified.