About a month after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and had yet to be arrested for doing so, I wrote:
The crime of killing a black person still is not greater than the crime of being black.
After Zimmerman had been arrested, I wrote:
Those new to the cause of defending black life will soon have to face the bleak truth black people have lived with for so long: we don’t often win. The justice system has never been kind when it comes to its dealings with black men. Emmett Till’s killers both died of cancer—as free men, never having spent a day in prison. The police officer caught on cell phone camera killing Oscar Grant served all of eleven months. It took more than five years for the cop who fired the first of fifty shots at Sean Bell to lose his job. Despite evidence of his innocence, Troy Davis was executed. And those are just the names we know.
That same month, after Dante Servin shot and killed Rekia Boyd, I wrote:
Even if the police are telling the absolute, 100% truth in this case, the actions of those endowed with the authority to kill should be subject to intense scrutiny. Police command a certain amount of respect, but given how tense and violent the relationship between them and the Black community has been, there is an understandable level of skepticism and apprehension Black people in general hold toward police. So even if it was an accident, it never feels like an accident. Black folk, particularly Black youth, feel hunted. And so long as police are not held accountable for taking the lives of young Black people, the cycle of death and distrust continues.
Several months later, after Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis, I wrote:
We have deluded ourselves into thinking that the post-civil rights/Obama era is one in which racism either doesn’t exist or is waning to the point of irrelevance. Whether or not things are “better” starts to feel inconsequential when “better” still means young black people aren’t safe in their own skin. We haven’t come to grips with the fact that America is a fundamentally racist society. Racism built this country into what we know it to be today. It takes more than observing a Martin Luther King Jr holiday and electing a black president to unwind such deep-seated bigotry. We can’t eradicate it if we can’t name it, and so long as we refuse to name it, more Jordans, more Trayvons and more Oscars will die. Their blood is on our hands, and we’ve become so self-satisfied, we don’t even bother to wash it off. We keep moving as if they never existed.