2020 has been a reckoning for many of us — in several ways. Sometimes it looks like we’re inching toward systemic change in America. Then yet again, we take a few steps back. It is anything but a straight line.
Jacob Blake, a Black American and Wisconsin resident, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer who tried to detain him last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The officer shot Blake seven times while his children watched in terror, those memories now seared into their young minds. Seven times, and there was no deescalation.
What purpose did shooting him serve? What threat did he pose? Shoot first, not last? It happens so often that one event often runs into the next.
If you’re white, you likely won’t be next.
Take Kyle Rittenhouse for example. During a night of protest and unrest in Kenosha amid Blake’s shooting, Rittenhouse killed two people and injured a third. Before the shooting, while armed with a long gun, the police gave him water. After the shooting, he walked away from the scene of his crime with the murder weapon in his hands. He was allowed to go about his business until the next day when he was arrested — safely. No harm came to him.
We don’t wish anyone harm, but this juxtaposition is stark — very stark and very telling. Take a minute to think about it, and ask yourself: How is it possible that Rittenhouse was not questioned or arrested on the spot for shooting others?
In this country, to whom do we give the benefit of the doubt? Why is it that when a Black American is either a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime, we ask about their criminal record, but when a white person commits a violent act, we seek to justify it by talking about something in their past, their mental health or their lost potential?
For whom is the right to arm yourself a Constitutional right or a threat? Who is it that gets consistently targeted by law enforcement? Who is enabled by law enforcement? What is justice in America?
We cannot look away from this. We cannot be silent. We cannot be still.
Courtesy of @denny_ow on Instagram
Sometimes I feel the need to explain or offer words. This illustration above by Denny Ow says it all.
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