The Black Cop

The police and Blacks, homophobia, and systematic racism are all subjects that appear in the news of late. Not that they ever really left, unfortunately. But it seems like, though they are not disappearing, there is a willingness by enough of the population to at least discuss these subjects. I don’t know whether the focus on shining a light on the mistreatment of and the discrimination against a portion of the population has made me more hopeful or more depressed/angry than before.

Bottom line is that this happens just because of who they love or how much melanin a person has in their skin. Seems crazy that they are under constant racial profiling, racism, or threat of violence or death as a result. But there is no way to deny it. And it is so ingrained in our society that we either don’t see it or, even worse, acknowledge it. A place or job where this really comes into play is in the police force. I suspect all over the world, but here director Cherish Oteka uses London to illustrate the point.

The docu-drama uses the story of one black homosexual officer to shine a light on the problem. Gamal Turawa is now an openly gay black man. That wasn’t always the case. Oh no! Self-hatred was instilled in him at such a young age that he repressed who he truly was. So much so that when he became a London Metropolitan police officer he engaged himself in racial profiling and harassing of black people so he could fit in with his largely white fellow officers.

Gamal was traumatized by a racial incident with a cop when he was younger. However, not equipped or encouraged to address it, the incident and damage it caused to his young psyche was pressed way down. Never spoken of. So much so that when he was older he became a police officer and engaged in that same type of behaviour. The cycle was continuing.

At first glance, Gamal is a man we should all hate because of the way he perpetrated the racism and homophobia he endured as a young person, but life is rarely this black and white. We understand why he did it as it was learned behaviour and a method of survival. Once he became a cop and was one of only a handful of black cops, Gamal had to work extra hard to fit in. Going to extreme lengths.

The short film uses interviews, archival footage along with some dramatic recreation, Gamal’s story is told. He demonstrates himself to be a victim and a perpetrator of racism within the British Police Force. From his time as a young boy from Nigeria who was adopted by a white family to his career with the police, a nuanced story is developed. At a certain point, Gamal’s eyes were opened and he had to acknowledge his skin colour and what that meant and the fact that he was a gay man.

Hope comes out of the film as Gamal has an awakening and towards the end of the now retired policeman’s career, he gave training programs in diversity, personal development and inclusion. Redemption eventually comes for the UK’s first openly gay black police officer before he retired from the force in 2018.

A quiet but riveting (as you hang on all of Gamal’s words in his interviews) film which has been nominated for a BAFTA this year in the British Short category

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*