If you’re a celebrity about to pull the race card and accuse the LAPD of harassment, you might want to make sure TMZ doesn’t have any contradictory evidence first. It seems that Djano Unchained actress Danièle Watts’ story about the LAPD unjustly harassing her just because she was kissing her white boyfriend in a car may be falling apart. Quickly.
TMZ released photos on Wednesday, showing the couple in very compromising positions. An alleged eyewitness told TMZ that Lucas was seated in the passenger seat of the car, with the door open, with his feet on the curb of the sidewalk, while Watts straddled him, her shirt pulled up and her breast exposed. According to the police report someone from the building went outside and told Watts they could be seen and yet the couple continued. The police were then called by an eyewitness in the same building.
When Watts’ story first emerged, she and her boyfriend alleged that the police officer had insinuated she was a prostitute and singled her out because she was a Black woman who was kissing a white man. The story and the corresponding picture of Watts crying and in handcuffs made the usual rounds through traditional and social media and garnered the usual collective outrage. However, it seems that Watts could have prevented the situation from even escalating to this point if she had admitted to the officer and to the press that she had a part in the reason they were called on the scene in the first place.
Audio recordings from the police encounter hear Watts repeatedly refusing to show her identification to the arresting officer, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jim Parker, who maintained he was responding to a complaint about a lewd scene.
“I figured I could take care of this call and go get coffee and that was it,” Parker told the Los Angeles Times. “I was trying to ID them and leave — nobody wanted them arrested for having sex in public. But then she went into her tirade.”
These past few months numerous racially charged stories surrounding brutality and racial profiling from police departments around the country have emerged and many of them have been heartbreaking and tragic. But they have also shone a necessary light on what minority populations, especially those in urban communities, tend to experience when dealing with the police.
As awareness is raised and the reality of these situations are put on America’s front street, emotions are running high as a nation that continually likes to declare itself to be post racial must deal with its very real and current racial issues. Watts’ accusation seems to have wrongly capitalized on this critical moment our nation finds itself in, all while making a mockery of people who have truly experienced racial discrimination and/or brutality at the hands of the police.
With new details about what really happened to Watts slowly coming to light, it would appear that she can’t claim to be a victim of LAPD’s racist tendencies. And let’s not play ourselves, the LAPD still has racist tendencies. But in this instance it seems like she (and her boyfriend) should have to take some of the heat and admit their responsibility in all of this.
It’s already hard enough that Black folks are often accused of being quick to “play the race card” as if life is one big Bid Whist game and we’re throwing it around like it’s a trump card so we can make all of our books and run a Boston on these fools. Real racist mess happens to so many of us on a regular basis on both a small and large-scale and we have got to be able to call it out without having our feelings invalidated. But we have also got to be honest about the encounters we have with whites or else any potential for progress will be thwarted. When a Black person casually puts down the race card and then has to take it back, it can make it harder for the rest of us to tell our truths and share our stories all the while being taken seriously.
Watts brought the issue of race into the situation and the public outrage soon followed because too many times we have been there and felt victimized simply because of the color of our skin. But was the race card pulled wrongly by Watts? Should we have collectively jumped to Watts’ defense with only having her version of being racially profiled by the LAPD? Are we so battered and bruised (literally and figuratively) by the daily racist encounters that we would never have given a white police officer the benefit of the doubt anyway?
Pulling out the race card and accusing someone of racism can bring very serious consequences for the accused, especially since no one likes to be called racist or discriminatory when they felt like they were just doing their job. Maybe Watts should have been wiser about using the race card, especially knowing how quickly things can go viral now. Maybe next time she’ll be more careful with her accusations and save the race card for actual racially charged moments. In the words of the great hip hop duo Outkast, “Don’t pull the thang out unless you plan to bang.”