Sarah Grace Goolden
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer after an unnecessary altercation. As with every race-fueled murder by the police, the internet errupted in disagreement. Many argued he should not have been walking away. It’s eerily similar to past tragedies. People screamed that Eric Garner shouldn’t have been selling cigarettes, as if the appropriate response to that is to choke him while he said “I can’t breathe.” People argue Philandro Castille should not have had a legal firearm. There is a huge problem with this sentiment. It suggests that police should abandon their actual duties as law enforcement and serve as the jury, judge and executioner.
Those with misdemeanors and felonies do not deserve to die during any argument with the police.
Should Breonna Taylor not have been sleeping in her home? Should Trayvon Martin not have been walking through his neighborhood? This argument especially doesn’t hold up in situations where Black lives have been taken with no prompting, which happens far too often in America.
However, there is a rhetoric which demands Black people, especially men, to be perfect, as if any movement or any past run-in with the law is grounds to be murdered in cold blood. It is unrealistic and more than that, it is not fair. Selling cigarettes does not result in the death penalty. Castille legally was allowed to own a gun and calmly informed the officer, as he should have. Those with misdemeanors and felonies do not deserve to die during any argument with the police.
We hold Black people up to unreachable expectations that white people are objectively not held to. This argument basically says “Black people always deserve to be murdered and have to constantly strive to avoid that. It is not the fault of the officer but rather the man or woman for being Black.”
As soon as we start justifying murder, it’s time to take a look at what we’re assuming from people of color.
There is a pretty common debate which says that officers were worried about their life and reacted out of their own safety. To that I say, why are they so disproportionally terrified of Black men than their white counterparts? Black men walk into situations already at a disadvantage for something they cannot and, more importantly, should not change.
As soon as we start justifying murder, it’s time to take a look at what we’re assuming from people of color. This is not normal. Our country should not be murdering Black men and women and we should definitely not be defending it.