The Talk About a New BET Show Illustrate How Blacks and Whites Live in a Different America

June 28th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

The first episode of a new BET show is causing a lot of controversy because of its commentary on racial double standards in the U.S. The premiere of the show, "F*** the Police," made by music producer Irv Gotti, has created what some people are calling a "racial switch," with white people on the receiving end of racial discrimination—and black people in positions of power. 

Without spoiling the episode, it starts with a crime that police are investigating, and results in the death of a white character. Many of the cops are black, while the main character, Brody, is one of many white residents of a housing project. In the opening scenes, a group of black cops approach a teenage white boy and start harassing him, eventually pulling a gun on him.

There are also lines in the show like, "I can't breathe," a reference to the choking death of Eric Garner in New York in 2014 at the hands of police. 

A scene from BET's "Tales."

People are calling the show a lesson in the reality of black life for white people. 

The episode also featured the song "How Does It Feel?" by R&B artist D'angelo, which some are interpreting as a message to white America. 

Gotti spoke about the controversial episode with Reggie "Combat Jack" Osseé on an interview on BET's website. Gotti said the decision to script a role reversal was inspired by the courtroom drama, "A Time to Kill," starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey. In the closing arguments of the movie, McConaughey's character gives a speech about a black rape victim and then asks the jury to imagine that she was white, in order to garner more sympathy from them.

"That's what I'm doing," said Gotti. "I'm going to do a complete race reversal and everything that black people go through, I'm going to show white people going through it. And that's what I did, and it's weird." 

Black and white people live in different Americas. 

A Pew Research survey conducted in 2016 found that black people have a dimmer view of race relations in the U.S., with 61 percent saying those relations are generally bad; 45 percent of whites agreed. A majority of blacks (88 percent) and a majority of Latinos (70 percent) said that more changes are needed for racial equality. However, only 33 percent of whites thought the same.

A policewoman.

Black people are more likely to be shot by the police, more likely to be searched, more frequently arrested, and more likely to be wrongfully convicted. Black men are also seen as larger and more threatening, even when they're the same size as white men, according to a study by researchers at Montclair State University. 

“Unarmed black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” lead author John Paul Wilson, PhD, of Montclair State University, said in a press release. “Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of black males that do not seem to comport with reality.”

By using this fictional story, Gotti hopes to connect people with the racial inequality black Americans face in the U.S. In the interview, Gotti, who is a black man, said that the race reversal could also shock black people, who have become desensitized to images of black people dying.

"When you see black kids die, it doesn't hit me," he said. "What's hard, is when I seen this little white boy die—and I'm black—because you don't see it. Black people, we're even desensitized to ourselves."

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