‘Bad And Good?’ Seattle’s Black Men And Boys Respond To The Word ‘Police’

one word police

What would be your first response to the word “police”? A handful of Seattle’s black boys and men were asked to respond in word association fashion.

When 45 boys and men aged from 5 to 50 were asked to respond to the word “police,” the wide-ranging responses were documented on video. They spanned from “bad and good,” to “brutal,” “evil,” “scary,” “slime,” and “detached.” Many don’t hold back in giving full explanations for their responses to the word “police.”

In the new video, produced by Cut Video to coincide with Black History Month, there’s a marked transition from cheerful positive responses to police at the beginning of the video, like “helpful” and “hero” amongst children, to “evil” and “slime” towards the end.

The black men aged 5 to 50 recruited from the Seattle area responded to the word “police” in the following ways.

5* Bad and good
6 Officer
7 Job
8 Helpful
9 People
10 Brave
11 Men and women who are making sure everyone’s doing the right things
12 Po po
13 Justice
14 They fight crime like superheroes
15 Conceited
16 Officer
17 Corrupt
18 Justice
19 Helpful
20 Safe
21 Brutality, abusive
22 Friendly
23 Brutality
24 Change
25 Help
26 Beat down
27 Victims of a generation
28 Self-opposed protectors
29 Brutality
30 Authority
31 I look for them like they’re looking for me
32 Doing their jobs
33 Insane
34 Detached
35 Scary
36 Crisis
37 Untrained
38 Evil
39 Law enforcement
40 Fear
41 Power
42 Stay away from them
43 Brutality
44 Gang
45 Protection
46 Hands up
47 Slime
48 Unjust
49 Violent
50 Force

*Participant’s age

One word, however, appears to be the most common response when posed with the word “police.” Brutal and brutality appear to be common associations. How much of this was due to their location, or indeed the selection process? It’s difficult to know, although Cut Media has said it recruited volunteers through friends and by posting adverts.

You might also pose the question why this response to police is entirely given by males. There is no female voice for the video coinciding with Black History Month.

But the police force doesn’t receive an entirely bad response among the participants. Children’s views are entirely mixed while another young man appears openly positive.

“My times that I’ve dealt with the police I’ve actually received a lot of help.”

A more senior man, however, is forcefully candid.

“The only way we can get the police to stop chokeholding black people to death is if the police start pretending that black people are really people.”

It was reported by the Daily Mail that a spokesperson for the video producer commented as follows.

“As you watch you can see people have a lot of different experiences. For us, we wanted to explore how the concept of “the police” changes in black men as they get older. I think the most constructive approach to this video is to ask why the word police begins so positively and then gets progressively more negative.”

The video makers also said that relatives of some of the men are police officers, and it wasn’t the intention of the piece ‘to pass judgement on police.’

A controversial, inflammatory subject across America, the views of U.S. citizens about its police force, and their actions towards black people, is a subject that will forever remain ripe for discussion.