A Stanford study conducted earlier this year about Black over representation in the nation’s prisons (Af-Am’s make up 12% of the national population but 40% of the prison population) found that “When white people were told about these racial disparities, they reported being more afraid of crime and more likely to support the kinds of punitive policies that exacerbate the racial disparities”.
I posit that the recent spate of media coverage regarding the proportionately high killing of Black people by the police will have the same affect, that instead of highlighting a problem of epidemic proportion it will instead reaffirm, justify and validate the necessity of these killings of Black people in the minds of White people, non-Black people of color and Black people of color who adhere to white supremacy and anti-Black racism and it ain’t about the evidence.
This is because the cultural perceptions of policing and the police as ‘good, moral upstanding officers of the law’ vs that of Black males: extremely dangerous thugs prone to criminality, is sitting in the background of those rooms and in the forefront of the minds of those jurors overriding all that “evidence”.
This is the reason why the grand jury in the case of Eric Garner can return a verdict of no fault on the behalf of the police after watching video footage of him unarmed, being attacked by three police officers and then choked to death. It’s why people believe that Mike Brown, an unarmed 18 year old boy was a threat so dangerous to an armed and trained police officer that he needed to be summarily executed because he was a genuine threat to Darren Wilson’s life and why people believe that a 12 year old boy in the form of Tamir Rice was potentially so dangerous that the police had to also summarily execute him… holding a toy gun.
The video footage of John Crawford being executed in Wal-mart holding a toy gun or Eric Garner being choked to death were not enough to return a decision to indict. No amount of additional evidence would have been able to indict Darren Wilson in that grand jury. The jury would have been unmoved by additional testimony and cross examination as it was unmoved by the imagery in those videos because it’s ain’t about the evidence.
This is the power imbalance that exists for Black people dealing with a White created, White dominated corrupt justice system where Black people are left in the vulnerable and unenviable position of having to trust that White people are able to put aside all that history, all those racist acculturated ideas about who Black people are and just focus. on. the. evidence.
Black people are left having to trust that White people are who they believe they are: just, fair and equal. To believe that evidence alone is the sole determinant in cases involving black bodies in killings by whites, in particular white “officers of the law” is to ascribe an ahistorical view to the history of a country with such a violent racial past and present.
It ain’t about the evidence and contrary to logic and using the Stanford research on White attitudes regarding Black over representation in the nation’s prisons as precedence, the now ubiquitous reporting (in comparison to years past) of Black murders by the police will not galvanise national support on the issue but rather it will have the opposite affect of reifying national belief that Black people and Black men in particular are dangerous thugs that need to either be locked up or executed with extreme prejudice.
This is the vulnerable and untenable position Black people are left in, that despite overwhelming evidence caught on video or the consistency by which Black people are murdered by the police and it being reported via national coverage, that in the same manner as the Stanford Study it ironically works against our position instead of the more logical opposite- by highlighting the issues that effect us it would bring an end to them. This speaks to the illogical way that racism skews reality and perspectives.
No amount of “evidence” presented in a court room or a video can change the perception of how White people see Black people. We are who they THINK we are. I don’t know how that change may come. Many have offered up words of hope, myself included but I’m unsure if I even believe those words I formerly spoke now and thus I have none here.
I only know one thing, that it ain’t about the evidence.