A Hispanic police captain in Miami who has been accused of racist behavior against the city’s Black community in the past, showed up to a recent Miami City Commission meeting to inform concerned citizens that he now considers himself to be a Black man.
According to The Washington Post, when Capt. Javier Ortiz filled out an application to become a police officer, he proudly identified himself as a white Hispanic man. Since then the union representing Black police officers has accused the Miami Police Department of enabling racism and discrimination and many noted that during that controversy Ortiz decided to check a box claiming to be Black while applying for a promotion.
In November, the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association voiced their belief the crafty officer is doing this in an effort to not only protect himself but also make a mockery of initiatives to hire more Black officers.
During Friday’s commission meeting, the union informed city officials that several Black officers in the department found Ortiz’s new race designation offensive, to which the captain responded, “I’m a Black male. Yes, I am. And I am not Hispanic. I was born in this country. That’s how I feel.”
When asked to explain his stance further, he then invoked the “one-drop rule.” One of the commissioners grilled Ortiz about how he self-identified on the application he said that there were people in his family who are Black. But then expounded on that, he used the term to elaborate.
“And if you know anything about the one-drop rule, which started in the 20th Century,” he explained. “Which is what identifies and defines what a black male is, or a Negro, you would know that if you have one drop of black in you, you’re considered black.”
But the “one-drop” rule wasn’t designed as an entry pass into Blackness. Its very roots are in racism.
The rule was actually first started as a segregationist mandate, first used as law by Tennessee in 1910 and later Virginia in 1924 under the state’s Racial Integrity Act. Other states had passed similar measures. It meant that anyone whose ancestry had any Black lineage could be considered Black and thus discriminated against, regardless of their outer appearance. In anthropology, the concept is referred to as hypodescent, which delineates anyone found to be of a particular marginalized social class as relegated to that lower social status.
The Post reports that Ortiz has previously ruffled feathers for what appeared to be racially biased stances, citing that he, “has also drawn heat for defending police involved in controversial shootings and insulting Black boys and men killed by police.”
In 2016 he even boycotted Beyoncé because he was offended by her references to the Black Panthers during her Super Bowl halftime show performance.
After the video clip of Ortiz claiming to be Black went viral, the Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP posted a message on Instagram expressing their outrage.
“This is video of an active City of Miami cop at a commission meeting where the topic of discussion is on Racial Equity within the police department,” the NAACP wrote Saturday. “His comments are disturbing. And in the manner of how he used them, downright disturbing to say the least.”
However, Ortiz tweeted that the situation is being overhyped and that people are making more out of it than necessary.
This isn’t news. People love making stereotypes. It’s actually refreshing to be who you are, like an American. https://t.co/Ul1qh5GYtd
— Javier Ortiz, FOP (@OrtizFop) January 18, 2020