Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Jesus, this is ugly.

Note I don't say this has become ugly. It was ugly from the first moment this all started.  From the first bullet.  From before the first bullet, when a police officer saw two black kids walking in the middle of the road and decided "That shit has got to stop!".

It's clear that there can be no justice for murdered people of colour in a society where a sizable number of people - perhaps even a majority, depending upon where you're standing - simply will not accept that the loss of a life requires answering for if the person who took the life was white and the person who gave their life - had their life stolen from them - wasn't.

Note that I don't say it has become clear.  It has been clear for hundreds of years, and there's no sign of it changing, not really, not completely. I remember what they did to Rodney King in '91.  I remember what they failed to do in '92 to those who did what they did to Rodney King in '91. I remember the Spitting Image sketch of twelve men in klan robes insisting the video be played in reverse to demonstrate how quickly the cops helped King to his feet after making sure all those dangerous batons were removed from nearby. That was the first moment I realised just how terrifyingly horrible the world is. It's not a feeling that goes away.

Too many people want to believe this is about a tragic misunderstanding and a cop that was in fear for his life. Bullshit. At best, at the absolute limit of my capacity for empathy, I can believe the problem lay not just in Darren Wilson's attitude - you don't get to claim self-defence when shooting someone in the back unless you're watching him run towards a Sherman tank, and Wilson's own testimony that he only used the gun because he finds carrying a taser uncomfortable means that at best Michael Brown is dead because Wilson didn't like a non-lethal weapon pressing into his hip - but in his training. Perhaps it genuinely hasn't occurred to Missouri (and I'll not be able to watch Defiance ever again without thinking the show is a desperately naïve image of racial harmony compared to the actual Show Me State) that its police officers should consider that a job in which you get to carry a gun isn't a job where you get to start shooting because you're a little panicked?  Cops in the US are pulling their guns in situations soldiers are trained to keep their weapons down.  Cops in the US are pulling guns in a job which results in a lower rate of homicides than fast food workers. That results in a lower rate of homicides than in the general population.

Think about that. You're less likely to be murdered in the US if you become a cop, and that's before we add in all the civilians the cops themselves murder and we're told it was all just an accident. @mightygodking has pointed all this out. @ShaunKing has pointed out vastly worse. You simply cannot believe this was a tragic accident, as free of antagonists and guilt as a sudden earthquake, unless you desperately, completely want to.

Unless you want to sleep better, because you get to sleep better. Unless you want to tell yourselves everything is fine, because you get to tell yourself everything is fine. An unsourced quote is barrelling through Twitter right now: "White privilege is the ability to be outraged by the Ferguson decision, rather than terrified by it". Which is true, of course, but even so I can't help wishing a lot more of those who share my skin colour could even be stirred to be outraged here. Not least because the UK has its own horrors to atone for on this subject.

I still believe a future lies ahead of us where military-minded all-but unaccountable thugs kill just as many white people as black ones.  I just no longer believe we're necessarily walking towards that future.  Instead, here we all are, one half of us treading water and the other half drowning, slowly, one by one, as the water turns ever more obviously the colour of spilt blood.


Dan Edmunds said...

They have published pretty much the entire transcript from the Grand Jury hearings together with some of the supporting documents:


Only about 15% through it all, but is interesting reading.

SpaceSquid said...

Appreciate the link. I've seen plenty of excerpts, but the whole thing is a useful resource.