Friday, July 8, 2016

Shooting Black, Shooting Back

Trayvon Martin, while far from the first, is probably the one who woke up the nation to the dangers of being a black male in this country. Even after he was pursued, stalked, and threatened, provoked to the point where he turned on his vigilante stalker, all his killer had to claim to get away with it was that he feared for his life.

Just that. Nevermind Trayvon was "armed" with Skittles and a soda can and his killer had a gun. Nevermind that Trayvon tried to get away from his attacker before finally himself feeling threatened enough to stand his own ground, he committed the very severe crime of BWB, Breathing While Black, and his killer got off.

Put this in another context. Suppose you approach a beehive, full of little buzzers just going about their own business, gathering pollen and nectar, raising the next generation, cleaning the hive. Sure, each one has a stinger, but if you just stand a bit back and keep still, you will be perfectly safe. However, keep poking the hive with a stick and there will be consequences. Whose fault is it? Yours, you idiot. But the bees will be blamed.

Trayvon was the first most publicized victim. Unfortunately there has never been a stop in the parade of black men shot by white cops who have egregiously killed them, even when they are down on the ground, disarmed, and surrounded by cops. Bless the ubiquity of cell phone videos to show us just how threatening those men weren't when they were shot.

The cops in question have found a get-out-of-jail-free card. "Ohh, me, I feared for my life!" You're one of multiple cops, you have the gun out and pointed, he's down, and you're the one who's scared?

What kind of a coward are you, anyway? We certainly see what kind of a bully you are.

I was brought up to respect cops. They are helpers, they keep you safe. I still believe that of the vast majority of them. But then, I'm white. Blue eyed, fair skinned, blonde before it turned white. I'm not worried every time I see a cop, beyond a reflexive glance at my speedometer. Even if I was a bit fast, I'm not going to get grilled, made to leave my car to get frisked, have my car searched for presumed guns and drugs, get roughed up, get shot if I move a bit. Heck, I might even just get a verbal warning and sent on my way. It has happened.

I admit to a concern if I'm pulled over in a random sobriety checkpoint and they want to make me walk a straight line or stand, eyes closed, on just one leg. After years of osteoarthritis and now double knee replacements, I can't walk a straight line and my balance still sucks. But I could probably just ask for a breathalyzer in case the cop hasn't nose enough to smell I'm sober. I'm still not concerned that my actions will be taken as threatening and likely to get me shot.

But the American black community has to worry about that. They have to teach their kids how unfair the world is. They have to hope their kids survive growing up black. And they have to stand by and watch the police shootings happen over and over and over.

Last night in Dallas 11 police officers were shot. At this point 5 have died. One shooter has been killed, but early reports were that two snipers were involved. It was a terrible tragedy for both sides. Yes, both.

But can anybody really say that it wasn't completely predictable?

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