#USA #POLICE #SHOOTINGS #RACE RELATIONS: if we keep calling them “accidents”, nothing will change.
Hearing about black men dying is never exactly a surprise. Every day, you see the news stories: On the news, black men die while getting Skittles. On the news, black men die in choke-holds. On the news, black men die for playing their music too loud. It seems black men die on the news more than they do almost anything else on the news, even with a black president in office. Every 28 hours, a black man is killed by a police officer in America.
[…] the police spokesman talked about how my brother was just doing his job, that he followed protocol and that this was just a tragic accident for everyone involved. After the press conference, one of the local news stations in Nashville aired a more in-depth look at the case and reported that the victim had a family member who had been shot by someone on the same police force years earlier – also, apparently, “by accident”.
Accident seemed like an odd word to me for this situation. When I hear the word “accident”, I usually think about spilled milk or the dog urinating on the carpet or even bumper scratch. Accidents were things that you respond to with, “Whoops, sorry!” But with this accident, I wondered: to whom could we even say “sorry” now that a man lay dead?
While I watched, I kept thinking about why these accidents always seemed to happen to black people. And why they were called accidents, when it seemed so clearly to be much more than an accident – when it seemed to be a flaw in a system that called things accidents.
My white brother isn’t a racist – and he didn’t intentionally kill that man because he was black – but that’s not the point. In his case – in Ferguson and in so many other cases – we see the deaths of unarmed black men as “accidents”. And until the day we all recognize them as casualties of something much bigger, we will continue to see black men dead on the news.
We will continue to see brothers killing brothers.