Here’s what happens: A black teenager or young adult is killed, sometimes it’s by law enforcement and sometimes it’s just some guy with a gun who’s pretending to be law enforcement, and a faction of white people feel it is their duty to justify the killing.
Regardless of whether it’s politically or racially driven, it’s certainly disturbing.
First, they’ll dig up as much dirt on the young victim as they can, and then use it to defend the cold-blooded killing.
“See, he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt or stealing cigars or, gasp, walking down the street in broad daylight!”
Then they’ll start circulating photos of the victim that may paint him negatively. Because only black teens take photos of themselves flipping the bird and trying to look bad-ass.
Once this inevitably fails – because even most white people know an unarmed black teen shouldn’t face the death penalty for acting like a teenager – they move on to the strategy of finding as many possible instances of white people being killed by black people.
“See, it happens to white people, too. Why doesn’t the media cover those stories?”
And then, when they stop pretending to care about facts or justice, they start raising money or having rallies for the guy who killed the unarmed teen. Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown, may just be able to retire early after all the donations he’s received – nearly half a million smackers – since gunning down Brown with six bullets.
To my fellow whiteys: stop.
The stats are alarming, and they overwhelmingly contradict the argument that this isn’t about race.
African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white people, and one third of black males will see prison time in their lives (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Black and white people use drugs at similar rates, yet black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for drugs (Human Rights Watch). African Americans serve about as much time in prison for a drug offense as white people do for a violent offense (Sentencing Project). For black men ages 20-24, the top cause of death is gun violence; they are four times more likely to be shot and killed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
And, in this month alone, five unarmed black men, including Michael Brown, have been killed by a police officer. One of those men was killed for the terrible offense of picking up a toy gun at a Walmart.
Just imagine if these numbers were reversed. Good God, if that were the case we might actually try to change them.
But, we continue to live in two different Americas when it comes to law enforcement, and instead of wanting to change this reality, a sizable number of white people either deny the disparities or try to justify them.
Yes, white people are unnecessarily killed too, and sometimes those killings don’t get as much national media attention. But that’s because, by and large, justice is served in those cases. Kill an unarmed white teenager, especially if you’re black, and you’re probably going to prison. There are hardly ever two sides to those stories. Heck, people actually mourn the victim instead of rationalize the killing.
But when someone like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown is killed, the goal of too many white people is not to seek justice, but instead to find justification.
And that is something we need to change if we want to call ourselves the United States of America.