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The reaction to ‘walking while black’

The reaction to ‘walking while black’

Image from the dash camera footage of the incident released by the Corinth Police Department. Courtesy | Corinth Police Department

The reaction to ‘walking while black’
October 30
13:04 2015

Dalton LaFerney | News Editor

@daltonlaferney

Since Mayborn dean Dorothy Bland wrote a guest column detailing her encounter with two Corinth police officers, people online have been divided.

Some say Bland exaggerated, and there are those who have come to her defense and many praise the officers for their work, but one thing is certain: the Internet is talking about it.

Thousands online have written and commented about Bland’s column across all platforms, reported internationally by the news media. The dash camera footage that was posted to YouTube had more than 90,000 views. Because of her role as a dean of a journalism school, some say she has set a poor example to the students.

UNT has written two Facebook posts, urging the campus community to form its own opinion on Bland’s claims. The university said she “attached her title to her personal column,” however, Bland did not mentioned her affiliation with the university in her own writing. It was tagged as an author’s note by The Dallas Morning News. UNT moved to separate itself from Bland’s column, although UNT spokeswoman Margarita Venegas said Bland has not violated university policy with her column.

But some people want her to be fired. As of Wednesday, a petition calling for the dean’s removal had nearly 3,700 endorsers, the authors saying Bland embarrassment the UNT community, particularly the student body.

In response to Bland’s column, the chief of the Corinth Police Department, Debra Walthall, wrote that her officers acted as they were supposed to in the encounter with Bland. A dozen columnists have written about it, too. And so has Mayborn professor Samra Bufkins.

“It’s easy for us whites to claim somebody is playing the race card or trying to get attention when there are unpleasant encounters between black citizens and white law enforcement officers,” she wrote, “but none of us have multi-generational experience with the suspicion and discrimination targeted at many blacks and other people of color in our society.”

Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, revealed his frustration that Bland would write the column, because he said the police encounter “had nothing to do with” her skin color.

“They stopped her for a very legitimate reason, to tell her to try to be a little smarter,” he said in a Q&A with The Dallas Morning News. “Nothing frustrates police more than women with headphones on, texting away. So much of what makes you unsafe is not using all of your senses regarding your surroundings.”

Facebook user Matt Lollar wrote, “Teaching students to act like this is exactly why CNN and others are so bad at what they do now.”

User Anthony V Lombardi, who said he’s embarrassed to be a UNT alumnus, wrote, “It is a fabricated story where she tries to ruin the reputation of the police offers doing their job.”

Brian Key Guan said he acknowledges both sides of the argument, on whether the police acted correctly, or if Bland should’ve written the column.

“Nevertheless, can we please take a moment to understand and acknowledge the potential societal factors that may have led to her reaction?” he wrote on Facebook. “Let’s not underestimate the influence of past and present racism in our country.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to include new information and comments.

Featured Image: Image from the dash camera footage of the incident released by the Corinth Police Department. Courtesy | Corinth Police Department

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