April 4, 2012
In the “Southern Cop”, Sterling Brown tells the story of Ty Hendricks: a cop stricken by racism and discrimination. Immediately beginning this poem Ty is identified and Brown foreshadows to his audience that Ty has done some wrong doings. Essentially, this poem is the epitome of certain Americans today. Being a young African American male, the actions in this poem really didn’t strike as a surprise to me. Sadly, I’ve been stereotyped plenty of times. Whether it may have been from a teacher, a sales associate or a peer, I’ve been stereotyped. It’s something I have to deal with almost every day. My question to America is: what makes me different? Is it my hair? Is it the color of my eyes? Is it because of what my ancestors have done? Or is it simply because my skin is a darker shade of brown? On the other hand, we haven’t exactly been the perfect race. Yes, we’re known for being enslaved for 400 odd years. Yes, we’re known for our ebonic vernacular. Yes, we’re known for wearing ridiculous weave or going au natural. Yes, we’re known for sagging our pants to our ankles, blaring loud music, and loving chicken. But, even still, not every African American fits those descriptions. I could easily stereotype Caucasians and say they all like mayonnaise or they all have long noses. I could easily stereotype Asians and say they all squint and eat cats and dogs. I could very easily stereotype Mexicans and say they’ve all crossed the border and are very, very hard workers. But that wouldn’t be fair, at all. Inevitably, this poem reminds me of the Trayvon Martin incident. A young African American male was shot and killed because he looked like a “threat” to an adult male bearing a firearm. This uncanny event was a result of extreme stereotyping. Race, to me, is the equivalent to the color of food. It may look different, but it all tastes the same.