How will you react? Will you remember their achievements in life, and what they could have accomplished if not for their tragic end? Or will you judge their behaviour, for what they supposedly brought onto themself?
I am sure that few will answer the latter, in public at least. And yet, many do. Too many.
Every 28 hours, another black man is killed by the police in the USA. This Saturday, they claimed another victim, a young man named Michael Brown. He was unarmed, and even held his hands in the air to prove it before he was shot multiple times. The police claimed he reached for their gun, but other witnesses claim otherwise. To the black population of Ferguson, Missouri, his only crime was walking on the street in broad daylight. Just like Trayvon Martin, who was considered suspicious by George Zimmerman because he was wearing a hoodie. It’s natural that they would protest, since it seems like it’s the only way to get people’s attention. When faced with the feeling of powerlessness, you have nothing else to lose anyway. But of course, focusing on looters is a convenient way to ignore the blatant racism staring people right in the face.
The US has the highest prison population in the world as a result of the War on Drugs. As of 2009, black people made up 12-13% of the US population, but 40% of its inmates. A summary of the War on Drugs and its impact on black communities can be found comic form, which illustrates the vicious cycle of incarceration. Discrimination is already indefensible, but after viewing that comic, the sheer amount of victim blame towards black people becomes outright odious. First, the system ruins their lives by limiting their opportunities for education and careers, encourages drug abuse and crime, and then a bunch of unempathetic citizens have the gall to claim it’s their fault for being too lazy and entitled. And yeah, this crap happens in Canada too. Any article on Aboriginal people attracts racist CBC comments like mosquitos. Heck, even their Michael Brown articles are littered with the same racist talking points.
And while black people are always questioned for acting suspiciously, even after death, consider how the media treats white male mass murderers. It’s always a narrative of “How did such an otherwise good kid turn bad?” Also, a recent case in point, Elliot Rodger (yes, I know he’s half-Asian, but he talked as if it tainted his blood and said Asians were pieces of shit). Despite publishing a 140-page manifesto about starving the majority of women to death, people still deny that misogyny had anything to do with it. Yet those are the same people who will question women for getting raped. One of the most infamous cases of this was Christie Blatchford’s “Are you sure she was raped?” article in the National Post regarding Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide, which prompted her own father to call her out for cases like this always being about the victim. Bless his soul. It’s awful when your child’s death is met with criticism of her motives by heartless idiots who are only interested in denying responsibility for dealing with the shit women and minorities face on a regular basis.
But apparently, we’re not supposed to talk about root causes of heinous crimes, because that would be an agenda. Heck, that’s the excuse against anyone bringing up Elliot Rodger’s misogyny (and yet Barbara Kay, one of those deniers, has no problem parlaying his killing spree and the Montreal Massacre into evidence that society hates men. No, I’m not linking it. You can look up her article on A Voice for Men if you dare). Apparently, analyzing the motives of white male killers is ideological, but blaming non-white male victims is just a matter of safety. What a world. Also, if you use the mental illness excuse for mass killers, well, only 7.5% of crimes are directly linked to mental illness. So go ahead and use discrimination to avoid discussing discrimination.
Anyways, I have a lot more to say on this topic, but for now, that will have to be reserved for a later blog post. Also, I really do try to keep the tone of the blog calm, but victim blame hits a sensitive nerve for me. Also, it’s where racism, sexism, and even ageism intersect. (anyone notice that it’s frequently about those stupid young people making bad decisions?) The next part will be a more personal reflection on discrimination. I’ll leave the current entry with a quote from one of the most poignant articles I read about the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown murders written by Arthur Chu.
This Is Not Your Country.
You can live here. You can make friends. You can try to live by the law and be a decent citizen and even maybe make a lot of money.
But you will never, ever belong. You will never, ever be one of them. And you must never, ever trust them.