Names and personal details omitted.
J is a white man in his early 30s, I’m a white woman in her late 20s
Content has been greatly shortened from the original for the sake of avoiding repetition, and deleting misunderstandings that were cleared up. I’ve added ellipses for deleted content. Bold added by me. Minor edits for spelling and grammar are unmarked.
A black man holding a store air rifle pointed down is considered so threatening that police can shoot and kill him without discussion or repercussions. This is injustice on every level.
[link to the walmart security video of John Crawford III’s death]
If it were a white man shot in the same circumstances, would it be any less of an injustice? Why the need to inject race into it?
Z [a white man]
There really needs to be a law on the book to arrest those who call in lies to 911. Even if this was a real rifle, Ohio has open carry laws which allow him to carry it in public legally. However, the person who called 911 said that he was loading the rifle and pointing it at people. Both of which were lies.
J, this isn't happening to white men. It's happening to black men. Over and over and over. I'm not interjecting race; I'm observing a pattern.
It is happening to white people also. It's just that no one seems to care if a black cop shoots a white person. [link to article about Dillon Taylor]
If you're basing your observance of a pattern based on incidents that receive any media attention at all, then sure, it looks like it's open season on blacks. If you look at the actual statistics, more white guys are killed by black guys than the reverse, it just doesn't fit the narrative.
In any case, the fix for this is not hand-wringing about race politics, but mandatory chest-cams for all officers on the beat such that there's no room for "interpretation" of the facts, when the camera will clearly show when an officer shoots an unarmed/nonthreatening suspect. Race is just further muddying up of the waters.
Sorry Z, I don't mean to phrase it like no white people are unjustly killed by police. But I wouldn't argue that no one cares about that- your link shows that people care. And J, yes, it's an injustice no matter what the race is. But there is a narrative against black people.
The problem is that everyone just assumes that Michael Brown was killed unjustly. Despite what the witnesses said right after the shooting. And there were huge riots and tons of media coverage about it. Here is a case [Dillon Taylor] where a black cop shoots an unarmed white man AND the cop was also wearing a body camera, yet the police department is refusing to release the video. Unlike the Michael Brown case, we can literally find out exactly what happened, but the police are trying to cover it up. This is what people should be really mad about.
Just to clarify- the "narrative" to which I refer is the story - not the reality - that racism is as systemic and epidemic as would be needed to justify ongoing special legal treatment being handed out to minorities in order to "make up" for the racism. The reality is that racism still exists, but there are far bigger issues with the way that our economic model is set up to create cycles that help keep the rich rich and help keep the poor poor, and economic classis the biggest predictor of violence, particularly law-enforcement-involving violence… Most of thetime, race is just a red herring being thrown out by ideologues to whip their followers into a frenzy for financial and/or political gain by that ideologue, which (in my opinion) is worse (or at least less honest) than just ignoring the problem in the first place.
Y [a woman of color]
Plain and simple, it's sad that a life is gone.
S [a black woman]
J, I agree that our economic model is deeply unjust, but to say that that is abigger issue than racism is flawed. The vast majority of poor people in our country are black and brown people. To say that racial injustice is separate from (and a smaller issue than) economic injustice is to completely ignore the ethnic make up of most of the people you're talking about and the history of injustice (economic and otherwise ) they have suffered because of their race. Unfortunately, economic and racial injustice have been linked for a long time in our country. You can't solve economic issues without solving the racial ones too. I know this can be hard to swallow for white people who haven't experienced what it's like to be in the minority, but it doesn't make it any less true.
I'm pretty sure that the people in whom racism is a distinctly separate issue from economics are a generation or two at most from simply dying out, and the rest of us don't really care. The race issues ultimately feed on the economic issue, which is obviously a bigger issue… Fundamentally, there are only two ways to read the "racism" debate. One way is to assume, at all odds with reality, that it's all the white man keeping minorities down, and therefore we need an ever-increasing body of law to correct the effects of this supposed systemic racism. The other is to recognize that economics is the major problem, and racism contributes somewhat to the over-representation of minorities stuck in the cycle, but doesn't explain the cycle itself.
[I declined to comment more on this post since J likes to have the last word. We continued the conversation in private.]
[link to my note, an incomplete systemic racism list]
I can't take that list seriously when the 2nd item on it (the Trayvon Martin incident) has been so thoroughly debunked… painting it as "white on black aggression" is a gross oversimplification at best, and basically flat-out wrong at worst.
I wouldn't [and didn’t] phrase it that way (white on black aggression). But I don't understand why you want to justify the killing of an unarmed teenager.
When you simplify it down to "killing an unarmed teenager" it sounds great.
The evidence suggests that he was a big muscular dude with a history of violence, who when confronted by Zimmerman (no two ways about it, this was a stupid thing for Zimmerman to do) attacked him. And Zimmerman, after getting knocked around a bit, was able to get to his gun and shot Trayvon.
Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. But he didn't. When he didn't stay in his car, Trayvon should have minded his own. But he didn't. So there was wrong on both sides here.
Given that Martin attacked Zimmerman, Zimmerman was justified (legally and, in my opinion, ethically) in protecting himself from an… attacker using whatever force was necessary…
If that's what you believe, I'm sure I can't talk you out of it… Zimmerman says it was self defense. Maybe Trayvon would have said the same thing if he'd survived.
…What we do have are a few facts that strongly suggest self defense outside of a need to rely on peoples' words... so it's not as simple as "the survivor wrote the history"
I hope you don't think I am grasping at straws to excuse whites killing unarmed blacks
The incident described by the link you posted [John Crawford III] is inexcusable.The victim's race, however, doesn't somehow make it more inexcusable. Perhaps it explains the police officer's actions (if they were, in fact, motivated by race), but the part that should be offensive is the willful disregard for human life displayed by an officer of the law…
Your last comment on my post sounds to me like you think racism is almost gone, that after the old people die it won't exist. I disagree. If you want to work at justifying or explaining away every incident of racism, I'm sure you could make some arguments. It sounds like a lot of work to cover up a simple truth to me. And it's not something I can listen to. It would involve ignoring too many people's stories, telling them they are imagining things or that they don't matter. I can't tell my friend, "That person wasn't being racist toward you. You're interpreting it wrong. I don't care if it happens all the time. I'm the expert. I know what they were really doing." I'm choosing to listen to voices of people who have been disempowered.
I think you're getting caught up in the trees, and missing the forest. Individual acts of evil of any type are easy to find, but when you're talking about changing society the relevant scale to look at is the macro. I'm not unsympathetic to individual accounts, when and where they're actually valid, but using the Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown cases to prove that racism is real is a farce. If those are the anecdotes you're building a case upon... Then it's likely to be an unsupported case.
Anyway, that's my opinion. While I do enjoy a hearty debate every now and then, I didn't mean to start a fight, and I'm sorry if I did.
[several days later]
So,I've been mulling over what you said about Zimmerman, and I can't get anywhere with it. It keeps coming back to Stand Your Ground. Z initiated a confrontation. Maybe Trayvon could have run away, but he stood his ground. Maybe it didn't need to get physical, but according to Stand Your Ground, you can initiate violence when you feel in danger. You say Trayvon was winning the fight, but … it seems like Z could have run away at this point. But he decided to stand his ground. He felt threatened, so he increased the violence and ended a life. Both men stood their ground. Trayvon got the "death penalty" for it, Z was not punished. I see no justice.
…I feel like you're missing my point about that whole situation... yes, Zimmerman "initiated conflict" (in the sense of starting an argument, not necessarily an actual fight), but the evidence suggests that Trayvon… actually threw the first punch.
And, per Florida Law, one can be the "aggressor" in one stage of anincident, and become the "defender" in another… Trayvon didn't "stand his ground." He "counterattacked" and escalated the situation from an uncomfortable discussion into physical violence
If he had simply stood there and said "I have a right to be in this neighborhood, the same as you," then, if Zimmerman had shot him, Zimmerman would have unambiguously been guilty of murder.
…Maybe Trayvon said exactly those words; we'll never know because he's dead.
…morally and ethically, Zimmerman shares a great deal of the blame for the whole thing.
…So no, it's not "right" that Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman didn't even serve jail time.
…The only reason the case even got national attention was because of media coverage of race-baiting ideologues who could misrepresent the facts enough to fit the narrative of white-on-black racism.
…It is, however, a story with a very high media profile (none of which it deserves), so it doesn't surprise me that it would find a place in a list purporting to "prove" a narrative of recent violent racism against blacks from whites. But its inclusion on such a list doesn't speak well for the other incidents on the list...
…I just don't think there's any ambiguity in this case, despite the desperate attempts of race ideologues to present the situation as such. And while I understand and applaud your compassion forTrayvon, I think it's important not to be blinded by compassion to the actual facts of the case…
…from my perspective, you are making every effort to give Z the benefit of the doubt, and every effort to give no doubt of guilt to T.
You suggest that a calm, deferential attitude on Trayvon's part would have defused this situation, and that is was his responsibility to do so. After being chased by a strange man...
… To summarize, I think there's every reason to declare Zimmerman guilty of poor judgment on a number of levels, from getting out of his car in the first place to putting himself in arm's reach of Trayvon at all, much less without having his weapon at the ready.
…And nothing in the entire story has anything to do with racism, systemic or otherwise, between a dominant white culture and an oppressed minority black culture…
I appreciate that you are self-aware that you are using too many words in a discussion. … [shared a humorous memory of J]
Since you are already aware, can I encourage you to take action on it? One practical way to do this would be by taking more time to reflect rather than immediately responding to a comment or question. (And personally, it would help me feel respected and my words valued.)
Hope you are well.
I wouldn't really say that I use too many words... just that the volume of words has been lopsided in this conversation, and that while I realize it I want to be clear that I wasn't trying to "talk you into submission", as my wife might say.
But regardless, I hope that you're well also.
[several days later]
Your wife sounds like a wise woman. Maybe she has other suggestions about this? I do think it's too many words for a conversation... Also, I still feel like you aren't truly listening to me, since I asked for a reflection time, and you still immediately responded... Does that make sense?
While I can understand how you might get the mistaken impression that I haven't been listening to you, I don't see where you actually 'asked' for time to reflect. I'm not saying that to place blame, but to explain that I truly didn't mean to overwhelm you through volume of words or rapidity of response, so I'm sorry for not picking up on that.