WASHINGTON – I have observed in a previous piece how in America a single episode of “White on Black” violence gets saturation coverage, while the daily killings of young Blacks by other young Blacks are essentially ignored.
The simple fact is that any instance of “White on Black violence”, especially when the violence comes from a White police officer who kills an unarmed Black man, (this is the Ferguson, Missouri, case that is receiving major coverage), is used to reassert the larger point that “America is still essentially a racist country”.
Indeed, the plight of African Americans is the result of discrimination, intimidation, and much worse, as the gratuitous Ferguson killing illustrates.
Blacks are perennial victims
My point is that to use the rare instances of police or other White violence against Blacks to make the larger point that all Blacks are the perennial victims amounts to an enormous historical misrepresentation. This assertion is false and truly unhelpful, as it allows Black communities not to look into the root causes of poverty and marginalization. Much easier to say: “We are poor because we are all victims”.
Let’s be clear.There is still residual racism in america. It would be disingenuous or worse to deny this fact. However, today we do not live in a country that is pretty much like segregated America circa 1959 or 1960. The idea that now, just as before, innocent Blacks are the routine targets of police brutality is just nonsense.
Discrimination is illegal
Landmark civil rights legislation was passed in 1964, that’s 50 years ago. Any type of discrimination on the basis of race is illegal in America.
This of course does not mean that discrimination vanished. But it is no longer the accepted, (indeed in many states it was legally endorsed), daily practice. It is the exception, and not the norm. And when it does occur, the authorities must intervene, in order to uphold the law.
Indifference when Blacks kill Blacks
At the same time, I also note a complete disconnect between the saturation coverage (and related national outrage) of instances of “White on Black” violence, even though such episodes are few and far between, and the total indifference regarding the daily carnage in which scores of Blacks are killed by other Blacks. (More than 450 killings a year, just in Chicago).
Somehow, only homicides in which White people killed (defenseless) Blacks matter. This selective focus is the result of denial. Black communities simply ignore the facts, however overwhelming, that would contradict their preferred and totally false interpretation of history that portray them as perennial victims.
The killing of Michael Brown
Be that as it may, the killing of young Michael Brown by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is now “the case” that has energized Black communities. This sad killing has caused daily demonstrations that often turned violent. The African American community demands “justice”. Why was an innocent, unarmed Black 18-year-old killed by the police?
The facts may contradict the narrative
Well, it would appear that Black leaders and other community activists were a bit hasty in making up their minds as to the actual facts of the case. Michael Brown, the alleged victim, according to witnesses and surveillance video, had just robbed a convenience store with an accomplice. His physical description was given to the police. According to the police, Brown was stopped in the street by an officer.
Now here vital details have not been established with absolute clarity. Black witnesses affirm that Brown did not resist arrest. The police say that Brown tried to get hold of the officer’s gun and that’s why he was shot.
These are diametrically opposed accounts about what preceded the fatal shooting. I do hope that the facts will be established, as soon as possible, by an impartial and credible investigation. There should be no doubt as to what actually happened.
Needless to say, even if we assume that Brown was a petty criminal who had just stolen some cigars from a convenience store, this is no justification for using excessive force against him, let alone shooting him. If he did indeed resist arrest, and indeed tried to get hold of the gun of the officer, then what happened was a tragedy; but not a homicide motivated by racial prejudice.
The story we were told may not be true
Still, while we wait for the results of the official investigation, the official narrative of the innocent young Black man just passing by, minding his own business, when a vicious White policeman, for no apparent reason, kills him, turns out to be at least incorrect, most probably a fantasy.
It would appear that Michal Brown, (the victim, we are told), had just committed a crime. A petty crime, but a crime nonetheless and the police, doing their job, where looking for him.
While all this and more is sorted out, it may be wise to tone down all the protests and the marches. Whatever Black leaders and their followers want to believe about racism and discrimination, it may very well be that this time they picked the wrong example to make their case.