Death in Black and White

 A combination of images show the dying moments of Philando Castile, a black man shot by Minnesota police after he was pulled over while driving. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend broadcast the scene on her Facebook page. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A combination of images show the dying moments of Philando Castile, a black man shot by Minnesota police after he was pulled over while driving. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend broadcast the scene on her Facebook page. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Michael Eric Dyson

We, black America, are a nation of nearly 40 million souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people. And I fear now that it is clearer than ever that you, white America, will always struggle to understand us.

Like you, we don’t all think the same, feel the same, love, learn, live or even die the same.

But there’s one thing most of us agree on: We don’t want cops to be executed at a peaceful protest. We also don’t want cops to kill us without fear that they will ever face a jury, much less go to jail, even as the world watches our death on a homemade video recording. This is a difficult point to make as a racial crisis flares around us.

We close a week of violence that witnessed the tragic deaths of two black men — Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile — at the hands of the police with a terrible attack in Dallas against police officers, whose names we’re just beginning to learn. It feels as though it has been death leading to more death, nothing anyone would ever hope for.

A nonviolent protest was hijacked by violence and so, too, was the debate about the legitimate grievances that black Americans face. The acts of the gunman in Dallas must be condemned. However, he has nothing to do with the difficult truths we must address if we are to make real racial progress, and the reckoning includes being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed or discounted.

In the wake of these deaths and the protests surrounding them, you, white America, say that black folks kill each other every day without a mumbling word while we thunderously protest a few cops, usually but not always white, who shoot to death black people who you deem to be mostly “thugs.”

That such an accusation is nonsense is nearly beside the point. Black people protest, to one another, to a world that largely refuses to listen, that what goes on in black communities across this nation is horrid, as it would be in any neighborhood depleted of dollars and hope — emptied of good schools, and deprived of social and economic buffers against brutality. People usually murder where they nest; they aim their rage at easy targets.

The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know. Your knowledge of black life, of the hardships we face, yes, those we sometimes create, those we most often endure, don’t concern you much. You think we have been handed everything because we have fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it — all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace — should be yours first, and foremost, and if there’s anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.

So you demand the Supreme Court give you back what was taken from you: more space in college classrooms that you dominate; better access to jobs in fire departments and police forces that you control. All the while your resentment builds, and your slow hate gathers steam. Your whiteness has become a burden too heavy for you to carry, so you outsource it to a vile political figure who amplifies your most detestable private thoughts.

Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.

If you do not know us, you also refuse to hear us because you do not believe what we say. You have decided that enough is enough. If the cops must kill us for no good reason, then so be it because most of us are guilty anyway. If the black person that they kill turns out to be innocent, it is an acceptable death, a sacrificial one.

The New York Times

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Categories: History, Human rights, Opinion/Editorial, Racial discrimination, Racial profiling, Social commentary, Top stories, U.S. history, US News

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4 replies

  1. After Obama was elected as a black President for the United States I found myself interesting in recalling and meditating over the long History of racial violence against African-American people in USA before and after the civil war
    Reading the detals collectively let me believe that the possitive social changes that,ve happended in USA after the successive African-American Civil Rights Movements allover the fifties and the sixties were fast and great to be true.
    The ember of racism is still there beneath the ashes and fire will rise every now and then

    Liked by 2 people

    • The election of an African-American man as President of the United States was remarkable both because I think most Americans didn’t believe it was even possible, and because when it did happen, it taught us how much work we still had to do as a society.

      America is a work in progress. Our country was founded on radical ideas about human rights and the rights of individuals over the state. Never before had any society in human history elevated the individual to such an important status.

      We still have a very long way to go to realize our ideals of universal rights and equality for all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or national origin. Women are still second class citizens in America in many respects.

      American Christian fundamentalists hold many of the same beliefs as the Wahhabi and Taliban. Women should be silent and beaten like dogs when they misbehave. Lol. For this reason alone, every American should celebrate the election of Hillary Clinton. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good analysis for the current situation but, I won’t miss the bad changes in many of mankind’s late achievements that people must work at seriously, not only in Ameriaca but in most of world countries.
        I mean the disrespect of civil rights and the decline of ethnic and religious tolerance.
        Even wars have become worse, people watch massive killing as it is an ordinary daily incident

        The impact of Christian fundamentalists in a big country like America is much more dangerous than in any other country because USA’s society comprises a unigue diversity of all cultures and ethnics and religions

        Liked by 2 people

  2. One of the more contentious methods of stopping motorists is the ticketing for revenue one. Back in the day, a police officer would stop someone that had a vehicle light out and give them a warning ticket, though many still do give warning tickets, some smaller townships have changed it to a source of revenue. That and ‘probationary’ costs that go to people ‘friendly’ with the local councils.

    The Main problem is the ability for the general public to Fix (or have the time to fix) a vehicle’s lights etc. Too many don’t know how because the cars are harder to fix (for some-heh) The cost for a mechanic to replace a car lightbulb? Avg $75 and that’s generous. heh. Wait time for customer, down time from their job, etc etc.

    And the result is: a traffic stop, ticket cost, court cost etc etc. which is a lot more. More people need to watch YouTube for DIY car fixes and they’d have less stops.

    Another thing I’ve noticed about traffic is that when one car speeds up to pass others, at least two more get behind that one and than all three are going over the posted limit but only One is going to get stopped by a cop. heh

    Overall though, police do need to be trained in ‘deescalating’ a situation, instead of escalating a situation, regardless of the race of the person they are interacting with at any given time.

    Liked by 2 people

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