The Swedish police & the myth of the non-existent ‘violent black man’

By: Edinah Masanga

Between running a company; presiding over a non-profit; mothering my three gorgeous kids; and trying to decide if I should get a boyfriend, it would really help if the Swedish society were not openly biased so that I do not have to write about this shit again: BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT AN EXISTENT THREAT TO ANYBODY. They are just people.

Of course, by this, I do not mean that black people are perfect, I simply mean that like other races, black people are unique, each with his or her own qualities. Exactly. Just. Like. Other. People (insert rolling eyes here).

Bundling a whole race into one basket and blanketing it with a stereotype of the ‘angry black person’ is just pure madness rooted in colonial era mentalities where white people posited themselves as the pure, just, civilised, reasonable and of course superior race.

Why am I so angry you might wonder, it is the treatment of the black American rapper Rocky by the Swedish police and by extension the justice system, which prior to this incident has been criticised of being heavily biased towards black people as either violent or criminal.

It is clear that the Swedish police see black people via a biased and stereotyped prism where the black person, particularly the black man, is “violent and savage”. And as such should be approached with a heightened sense of force.

The Swedish policing system (including security guards) have already been found wanting for unfairly stopping black people in the streets, and using disproportionate force towards them, in other words racially profiling them, for no other reason other than the colour of their skin.

I for one have always been a law-abiding citizen and not only do I have a great amount of respect for the men and women who risk their lives in order to protect ours, I also salute them but I am sitting here with a chip on my shoulder, wondering why is it in a case where there is a video which shows Rocky being repeatedly provoked and ends up responding accordingly, only he – the black man – was arrested, treated like a hardened criminal and made to lose out on a huge amount of money while the other parties to a crime that was captured on camera were left to go scot free?

I have a few theories, based on my own personal experiences, in Sweden, I have noticed that where there is an altercation between a black person and another person, the intervening parties especially if native, always confront the black person. Yes, this is true, this is not even me saying things from the air. Or making stuff up. This is me being real. You really can’t make this shit up.

I would like to see the day when black people are treated like full beings who can make logical conclusions, sound and reasonable deductions including reacting like a human when someone repeatedly harasses you in a public place and thus infringing on your civil liberties. I do not encourage nor do I condone violence, but different people react differently in situations based on their personal circumstances, not their race.

It’s the person – it’s always the person – not the skin colour, stupid.

And in the case of Rocky, he was clearly being harassed on the streets of Sweden but he is the one who sat in a holding cell with a whole prosecutor appearing on TV defending the perpetrators indirectly by defending her decision to hold the musician. I feel grossly violated and angered!

I’m sure there are people who would love to call me the angry black woman, oh here we go again, look how angry she is. Honestly, how can I not be angry? I want people to judge me by the content of my character and not the colour of my skin. And when you treat one person who looks like me unfairly you are capable of treating me the same.

A black icon and civil rights activist Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was right when he said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

His dream we still hold dearly in our hearts for over half a decade later and hope to realise one day. As the young people say, the struggle is real.

Edinah Masanga is a Zimbabwean journalist and author of an upcoming book A Black Conundrum: Right Place Wrong Time, Arriving In Sweden At The Height Of Populism.



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