New York police union asserts that ‘blue racism’ is worse than actual racism

Screengrab via sbanypd/Vimeo EmilyGorcenski/Twitter

The union president is having second thoughts about using the term ‘racism’ in the video.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association, a police union that reportedly represents 13,000 current and former New York Police Department sergeants, is asserting in a new video that “blue racism” affects police officers and is an “even more racist lens” than racism itself—and the internet is not having it.

In the video, a narrator asserts that despite police officers being human, they’re discriminated against through “blue racism,” waxing that they’re attacked, generalized, and unable to discuss their profession in their private life, but are still required to protect communities that generalize them.

“The average person doesn’t see those things that make me human. They don’t even label me based on being African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian and so on. They tend to see an even broader stereotype through an even more racist lens,” the narrator says. “When they look at me, they see blue.”

The video ends by condemning “the Nazi, white supremacist actions and rhetoric” witnessed during white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, and sharing thoughts and prayers for the victims of violence and the two officers killed in a related helicopter crash.

Shared on Sunday night, the video appears to be part of the union’s video series titled “There is NO WE in Barry.” Upon closer inspection of the union’s Vimeo and YouTube accounts, it seems the series denounces the comments of NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill upon the fatal police shooting of Deborah Danner in October.

The union rejects O’Neill’s assertion that “we failed” in training Sgt. Hugh Barry how to work with New Yorkers with mental illness, going so far as to deconstruct and mock the comments in several videos. In May, Barry was charged with second-degree murder in Danner’s death, as well as first- and second-degree manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.

The video does draw upon examples of targeted violence against police—such as the intentional shooting of police during a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas last year, and more recently the death of two officers who were ambushed while responding to a call in Kissimmee, Florida. Working in law enforcement can be dangerous, without a doubt.

However, while calls to end racial profiling and police brutality have placed a brighter spotlight on the actions of police, particularly white officers, many Twitter users swiftly rejected the assertion that police suffer from racism due to their profession.

Unlike police affected by so-called “blue racism,” Black people and non-Black people of color are unable to go home at the end of the day and “take off” their race to avoid prejudiced interactions, much like a cop would their uniform. They did not choose their race, nor do they automatically derive systemic power from being a person of color, much like a cop has systemic authority as a law enforcer.

That’s not to say that choosing to be in law enforcement should ever be a death sentence, but it’s an explanation for why the prejudice police experience cannot be compared to de facto racism.

Other critics have pointed to the “real” victims of blue racism—animated characters who have blue skin, obviously.

In an interview with the New York Times, union president Edward D. Mullins admitted that the “negative component” of the video has been “using the word ‘racism.'”

“From the law-enforcement perspective, everyone understands the message—the message being, we’ve been pretty much under attack,” Mullins said. “I guess we could have not used the word ‘racism,’ but something like ‘bias.’ But regardless of race, the country has been upside-down with protests and battles.”

However, despite the union’s misunderstanding of what racism really entails, he wants to bring people from across the divide together for an “amicable” conversation.

“We’re not the bad guys,” Mullins said.

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.