Sacrificing Black Lives for the American Lie

tags: racism, White Supremacy

Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history and international relations at American University, is the author of “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”

... Fifty years ago, some Americans blamed the “rioters” who rebelled and were killed by the police in nearly 130 cities for their own deaths.

And over the past few decades, prosecutors and juries ruled that the officers who killed Eleanor Bumpurs and Amadou Diallo and Rekia Boyd and Michael Brown and Eric Garner were innocent.

When black criminality ceased, black death would cease, President Roosevelt suggested. Black people were violent, not the slaveholder, not the lyncher, not the cop. Many Americans are still echoing that argument today.

This blaming of the black victim stands in the way of change that might prevent more victims of violent policing in the future. Could it be that some Americans would rather black people die than their perceptions of America? Is black death more palatable than accepting the racist reality of slaveholding America, of segregating America, of mass-incarcerating America? Is black death the cost of maintaining the myth of a just and meritorious America?

This is not just the America people perceive. This is the America people seem to love. And they are going to defend their beloved America against all those nasty charges of racism. People seem determined to exonerate the police officer because they are determined to exonerate America.

And in exonerating the police officer and America of racism, people end up exonerating themselves. Americans who deeply fear black bodies, who think their fears are sensible, can empathize when cops like Officer Yanez testify that they feared for their lives. ...

Read entire article at NYT

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