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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"America Never Was America To Me"

Protesters holding signs and a flag that says "Black Lives Matter." Image source.
So the police officer who killed Philando Castile was found not guilty, and ... I don't know what to say. How could this happen?

Growing up white in the US, I always heard people say "we live in the greatest country on earth" and how we have "freedom" unlike other countries, that the US was founded on "equality", the idea that all of us are "created equal", and we have "rights", "innocent until proven guilty", "no cruel and unusual punishment", "rights of the accused", etc.

Yeah, none of that is true.

The US has NEVER had "equality." The founders talked a lot of talk about "all men are created equal", but they had slaves. In school I learned that thank goodness Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr fixed those racism problems and now we are all equal- but it's not true.

People say "he didn't obey the police officer's instructions" or "the cop thought he was reaching for a gun" as if that makes everything okay- is that really the kind of world you want to live in? You think a world where not following directions carries the death penalty is just completely fine, move along, nothing to see here? You think if a police officer has a feeling like someone is reaching for a gun, then it's totally fine to kill them, even if that feeling turned out to have no basis in reality? No, when white people make these kinds of excuses, what they're really saying is, "well I know it won't happen to me, so I don't really care, but I need to give some kind of excuse to blame the victim and justify my not-caring." (Please note, though, the similarity between "he wasn't 100% calm and polite and following instructions, therefore he deserved to be killed" and "all people deserve to go to hell for their sins- no matter how small those sins are.")

And white people bring up stuff about "he was on drugs" or "he was a suspect in a robbery"- like, what happened to all those lofty ideals about "innocent until proven guilty" and "America is the greatest country on earth"? So if a police officer suspects that someone committed a crime, they can totally kill them and it's FINE? Since when? You really want to live in a world where that's totally FINE?

There's never been "justice for all" in the United States. There's never been "equality." As Langston Hughes said, "America never was America to me." Instead, we have white supremacy. We have racism built into the system at all levels. And it's deadly.

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