Issues & Insights
Five former Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols (Screenshot)

Watch As The Left Tries To Make Memphis Killing About Racism

On Monday, the Washington Post sent an update to its email subscribers with the subject line: “The police officers charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols are black. Does it matter?”

The short answer is: Yes, but only to race hustlers on the left.

Which is why the Post enlisted three reporters who spent nearly 1,400 words twisting themselves into pretzels to explain how black police officers beating a black man to death was further proof of “systemic racism.”

Here’s how the Post puts it:

“The race of the five officers charged in the Nichols killing has prompted a complex grappling among black activists and advocates for police reform about the pervasiveness of institutional racism in policing.

“The widely viewed videos of the Nichols … spawned nuanced conversations among black activists about how systemic racism can manifest in the actions of non-white people.”

If you’re confused, join the club.

In trying to make the country view the Memphis death through a racial prism, the left not only manages to defy common sense but undermines everything it has been claiming about racist police officers. Namely, that systemic racism manifested itself in whites disproportionately targeting blacks, and the solution was more racial balance in police forces. Or to defund them altogether.

Not only were the officers involved in Nichols’ death black, the Memphis police force is 58% black, as is the police chief. And, as the Post admits, this was “the result of a decades-long effort to field a police force that resembles the city’s 64% black population.”

No matter. The reporters quote Samuel Sinyangwe, president of a group called Mapping Police Violence, saying that “diversifying law enforcement is certainly not going to solve this problem.”

And it quotes Nikki Owens, who is with the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, bemoaning how “In America, we’re taught that racism is black and white. And we are not taught about institutional or systemic racism, even though we see it everywhere. We are taught that if a black person kills another black person, it can’t be racist. It’s ‘black-on-black crime.’”

And Jason Sole, a community organizer in Minneapolis and former head of the local NAACP, who told the Post that he’s never felt a sense of relief when encountering black officers.

“I never had that feeling of ‘Oh great, it’s a black cop, yay.’ No. I was born in ’78 and I never had that feeling, not once,” Sole said. “All your skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

And Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state legislator, civil rights attorney, and CNN contributor, who said “For many black folks, the race of a cop is cop.”

So why, exactly, have we spent the past several decades being browbeaten into believing that diversifying law enforcement was critical to dismantling police racism?

But what’s really despicable is how the left, as evidenced by the Post reporting. It seems disappointed that the officers weren’t white. For example:

Systemic racism can be more difficult for the general public to grasp than explicitly visible white-on-black crimes, said Craig Futterman, a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School who studies policing and civil rights.

‘We’d like to think in the binary — the good guys and the bad guys,’ he said. ‘It’s far easier to consume the story in an uncomplicated way seeing a white officer shoot 14 shots at a young black boy laying on the ground,’ he added, referencing the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald.

And there’s this:

Ayanna Robinson drove 6 1/2 hours from Indianapolis to Memphis to join demonstrations she thought would include thousands of protesters angered by his recorded beating by officers. She arrived to find dozens, not thousands, of protesters and they seemed calm …

Robinson said one of the major reasons she thought many people seemed more subdued in response to the Nichols death was that the five officers charged in beating him are black. If the officers had been white, ‘All hell would have broken loose. The city would have been in war.’

What a lost opportunity. All of this reminds us of when Morpheus explains the Matrix to Neo:

“It is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work … when you go to church … when you pay your taxes.”

We say it’s time to unplug ourselves from the race hustlers who so desperately want to view everything and everyone as racist and say “welcome to the real world.”

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • “And we are not taught about institutional or systemic racism, even though we see it everywhere.”

    If you see racism everywhere, you are the racist.

  • “All your skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

    Really? Or does this apply only when the evidence says “systemic racism” doesn’t exist?

    “Systemic racism can be more difficult for the general public to grasp…”

    Yes, fiction isn’t for everybody.

  • The anti-police campaign by the left has 1, made it harder to maintain adequate staffing without lowering standards, and 2, encouraged individuals to believe they can defy the police with impunity.
    So, new laws and/or federal micro-managing aren’t likely to improve the situation.

  • It’s not “Race”, it’s “Culture.”
    American Blacks, almost universally, have adopted a “FTW (eff the world) and think any interaction with an authority figure is a sign of disrespect and their immediate response in one of belligerence. Black police officers, by and large, are steeped in the same culture and feel any resistance to their authority is seen as disrespect and deserves an elevated response. So you can see how these situations quickly get out of control.

  • Why don’t we talk about black crime. Less than 2% of the population cause over 50% of the violent crime

  • First of all, you have to fear the police. All white people do. If you don’t, they serve no purpose. You may say hello to them on the street, but you don’t want them to know you. If they do, it’s for a reason you don’t want. Claiming there’s something noteworthy about black people being afraid of the police is more of that nauseating liberal self dramatizing. Second, it certainly is possible for a person of any race to be ashamed of his race, just as it is possible for any person to have the unfortunate psychological problem of self-loathing, for any reason, or even a not yet understood reason. The most prevalent example of this phenomenon today might well be the widespread white liberal loathing of something they call ‘whiteness.’

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