I Understand Why Some Black People Couldn’t Care Less About Justine Damond – The Root
Fuck you. Fuck your humanity. Fuck your children. Fuck your life.
That is the cruel, loud echo black people hear reverberating out of America’s criminal-injustice system every day when police officers get away with shooting, choking, raping and slamming the life out of our bodies. If we’re lucky, our deaths trend on Twitter and evoke outrage. Then comes the exploitive media spectacle of black mothers wailing before television cameras capturing the agony overwhelming their tear-streaked faces. GoFundMe pages go live to raise funds for families who can’t afford funeral expenses.
Protests, if you’re a black man, may follow; we’d be fooling ourselves to suggest that our people march for black women with the same energy and vigor they show for black men. Generally, black people killed by cops barely register in the national press. Their passings, with the exception of loved ones and the coroner who tags their toes at the morgue, go by as if they never lived at all.
That’s a painful reality to live with as a black person in America.
The weight of it all can numb our spirits and harden our hearts. Living in a society that hates you that much can make you hate it back. White supremacy brings out the worst in the criminal-injustice system, but it can also harden black people to the point of stealing our compassion, including for white people who are killed by the same white supremacist police state.
That’s why I empathize with some black people who say, “Fuck Justine Damond.”
I understand the frustration in Son of Baldwin’s recent piece when he said the following:
I’m going to say this and I mean — down to my subatomic particles — what I say. And I actually don’t care what anyone might think about it:
I don’t give a FUCK about Justine Damond and what happened to her.
I don’t give a fuck because most white people didn’t give a fuck when police murdered seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones as she lay on a couch, sleeping. What most white people — and some black people — did was blame Aiyana’s family.
I don’t give a fuck because a black woman (or a Native woman) in the identical situation Justine was in wouldn’t garner support or sympathy from most white people. No. What most white people would do is look for reasons that might justify why the police officer “had” to kill the black woman.
Most white people rely on this idea that black people, in situations where white people are in pain, are only ever to be soothing and understanding; only ever to be Mammy or Uncle Remus; only ever to extend condolences; only ever to embody loyalty; only ever to offer the empathy and sympathy that most white people purposely and haughtily deny when the situation is reversed — almost as if most white people still see us as their property.
For some people, his words sounds harsh. After all, Damond (whose last name was actually Ruszczyk, since she hadn’t yet married, but who referred to herself by her fiance’s last name) was indeed a victim who, like many black people before her, called the police for help and ended up dead. Neither she nor her family deserves scorn. They deserve justice, prayer and any support that people wish to offer. What is also hurtful is to see white society extend the kind of heartfelt regret to Damond’s family that it has never extended to us.
Son of Baldwin isn’t alone in his feelings, and there is a lot of truth in his words. Look at how Damond’s death is being handled already.