News & Politics

A Black Man Wants You to Know Something Before You Call the Cops on Him

The stories over the last few weeks about white people calling the cops on black people for doing everyday, normal things are bizarre to me. And sad. I mean, there’s a level of racism that’s so blatantly obvious that it should befuddle people when it happens. Unfortunately, racism is not dead in this country and black people have to worry about frightened white people calling the cops on them. As a proactive measure, a young, black man has recorded a video containing some information about himself that he wants people to be aware of before dialing 911 to report him.

His video is in response to the spate of 911 calls from white people scared because black people are doing things like renting an Airbnb, taking a nap on a couch, and having a bbq in a public park. All of those instances are shameful and highlight that society does, indeed, still see color, often in stereotypically negative ways.

Tyler Merritt, who is an actor based out of Nashville, Tenn., wrote and recorded a monologue about himself in hopes of bringing attention to the problem.

The video opens with Merritt telling the viewer, “Before you call the cops, I want you to know that the first thing that I did when I woke up this morning was yell at my alarm clock.”

Intentionally humorous, that opening line was delivered with a deadpan expression and delivery with the goal to humanize Merritt. And it works. Immediately, before hearing anything else Merritt had to say, I knew that this was a dude that I’d like to grab a beer with. Except, as I learned later in the video, he likes hockey so there’s a good chance we’d just argue about the hierarchy of sports.

What makes the video sad is that Merritt even needs to humanize himself. It should be a given; he shouldn’t have to worry about people being afraid of him or making negative assumptions about him just because of the color of his skin. The reality is, though, that hundreds of years ago our society decided to dehumanize people of color, and we have yet to completely rid society of the effects.

I am not a fan, to put it lightly, of identity politics. But rejecting neo-Marxist identity politics doesn’t require me to ignore the fact that racism still exists.  Based on the video, Jonathan Merritt appears to be a wonderfully self-deprecating, interesting, and kind-hearted man who likes to enjoy himself. Hopefully his video will go a long way toward helping put an end to the racism that continues to exist in this country.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member