Saturday, April 26, 2008

While night merged into morning...

This may ramble but fuck it.

A few days ago C-Money and this bitch watched a local news report about a homicide. A man was found shot to death in a residential neighborhood on the North Side of St. Louis city. The report featured an interview with a young man and a woman who live near where the victim was found and both of them related the shock and fear they felt upon learning that someone was killed in their neighborhood. The reporter then wrapped up by urging anyone with information about the crime to contact the St. Louis police.

C-Money and I were both struck by the balance of the story. It hit me that I was downright shocked that a news story on a homicide in a predominately black neighborhood actually featured commentary from residents…that the reporter actually took the time to add in how this crime impacted the community and residents. It is so rare. Usually crime in black neighborhoods is reported like the weather. But this feature was much like the new reports of a shooting in the county…a neighborhood in shock and residents on edge.

Human.

Who would have thought it a gift to be seen as human?

Sigh.

Anyhoo, my greatest fear is that my brother would be in a situation with the police. My brother is a 37-year-old young looking black man in a city that fears young black men. He is also autistic and aphasic, so he lacks the traditional communication skills that may save his life. He’s trusting...vocal and agitated when confused…and looks perfectly normal. What I know to be autism others may see as high on drugs or confrontational...and they would fear that…and they would respond to that fear the way we Americans respond to things we fear – with violence in the name of defense.

And even as I write this I know that some asshole will jump up in my comments and try to tell me about my own…try to explain to me why black men are worthy of fear. This asshole will quote statistics and crime reports and incarceration data and blah followed by blah followed by more blah all the while never understanding that the stereotype they know as “black male” is my brother, my cousins, my uncle, my friends and was my father and my grandfathers and others who have gone to be with God.

Never grasping what the murder of Sean Bell translates to for me…how my mind instantly redirected to the black men I know, the weddings I have anticipated witnessing…to real people who could have and would have been shot dead as that night merged into morning because of what police officers thought was about to happen.

Because of what is supposed to have been about to happen based on all those statistics and all that data and all that blah followed by blah followed by someone lost their lover, a father, a son, and friend.

Someone lost his life.

While night merged into morning.

And justice blinked…

25 comments:

Mark said...

The way you concluded the sad but true bitch fest was both poetic and elegant. I hope I am not one who would judge, you speak so loving of your brother. reading your blog allows me to see another view. One I truly respect and enjoy.

Hilary said...

I think anyone who posts those types of statistics is only confirming institutional racism, not that black men are justifiably scary.

Sarah J said...

thanks for writing this.

it is indeed impressive to see the media reporting a story of a black (especially male) victim as though he is a person, somebody's son, somebody's lover...

jsb16 said...

I think the biggest tragedy of the Sean Bell case is that there was no way for justice not to blink. If the officers were convicted, they would have been sent to jail for reacting on instinct. Cops put their lives on the line to investigate places where some seriously bad shit is going on, and we don't have enough good ones as it is. Also, if they had been convicted, there would have been a reasonable chance that someone would have noticed that the cops only get convicted for shooting civilians when the cops are black.

As it happened, the cops got off, even though their actions and decisions cost the life of a man who was trying to get his shit together.

I think it'd've been a tragedy either way. The tragedy will continue to repeat unless and until cops get better lessons in physics (glass shatters funny when you hit it with a bullet) and acoustics (sound doesn't travel that well through crowded places and glass windows). Possibly the worst part of the tragedy is that the actual villains of the piece, the folks who were running the prostitution ring the cops were undercover to investigate, have gotten off free and clear, and will continue abusing women and not caring how many people get shot, beaten, or otherwise injured.

I do believe the officers when they said that they thought they heard someone say they had a gun. I believe them when they say they identified themselves as police. Note: this doesn't mean I don't believe the guys who were shot at actually said that, or that they heard the cops identify themselves as cops. Anyone who can hear distinctly in a club has got some seriously better ears than I do.

Ochyming said...

Very, very, very, sweet.
The stigmatized should learn how to SHIELD him/herself against the ODD.

Not the first time, sadly we will SEE the same thing again.


,,,

deja vu

Dusty said...

As a brown bitch in the San Joaquin valley..brown is the new black here. It is always hispanics that get sterotyped as gangbangers and lawless thugs.

So I know of which you speak Shark fu.

The murder..and yes it was a murder of Sean Bell by cops who's only excuse was they thought(but never saw) he had a gun should horrify anyone with to brain cells to rub together.

Fifty fucking bullets...and the court found them not guilty..of ANYTHING!

I fear for the safety of any brotha of color..the color doesn't matter because all folks that aren't lily-fucking-white are suspects.

The courts make it easy to shoot and ask questions later..and that is wrong on any fucking level.

Hattie said...

Mark, you beat me to it. The words that came to mind as I read this were the same as yours: elegant and sad.

girl with the mask said...

"A gift to be seen as human"

That line will stick in my mind all day.

Beautiful post.

Missy said...

Prejudice and racism are still VERY prevalent in the south, as well. I'm not trying to paint a negative picture on the south, but there is still very much tension on all sides.

Being an Anthropology student, a thirty year old white female who knows her own discrimination, and someone who is openly not Christian and a little quirky - I get my fair share of looks and assumptions made about me, but I will never understand the feeling of someone fearing me and prejudging me on the color of my skin. Although I've been raised in the south and was raised with a family that has its own share of prejudices, I never could understand that skin color made you a certain way.

The other day, my best friend, a person I've loved and respected since I was 9 years old, was in the car with me. We drove through a certain section of town, one that has never been dangerous as far as I was concerned. It's a predominately black neighborhood, but that makes no difference to me. I drive that way all of the time without even thinking about it. Well, this respected long-term friend reaches up and locks her door and asks me if mine is locked. WHAT??? There was no threat, no one even looking our way, no reason for her to do that. I just told her that, "No, I am not locking my door because there is NO reason to." What is that rationale? It's like she thinks that black males are just a bunch of rabid dogs on the curb, just salivating to jack a car, rape some white women, or whatever other horrible stereotype one can think of. I'm so sick of that thinking and cannot connect to it on any level.

On that note - I hope nothing ever happens to your brother. I love reading what you write about him. He seems to be very special to you. I also hope that more people begin to realize that the only race is human, and that the color of your skin does not dictate your behavior. There are so many factors that go into dictating behavior and the color of your skin is not one of them.

Rant over.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Sometimes it seems like we've come so far.
Glad you're here to bring me down to Earth.

Philip. said...

What a well written post!!

Anonymous said...

Shark-Fu, practical comment:

Would it be possible for your brother to have a medical dog-tag or wristband explaining that he is autistic, aphasic, and can't communicate easily? And would he remember to hold it out to be seen, if he got in an anxious situation? A BIG RED medic symbol should be on the dog-tag, and the dog-tag should be larger than usual.

What a worry.

I don't see this as any different than a brittle diabetic having a dog-tag/locket or wristband saying "diabetic - give me sugar drop if I am acting crazy or passing out, then call 911".

I am a little insensitive to local TV news since I don't watch it. The Post-Dispatch seems to be better at having family and neighbors have their say, and anyway the print medium allows the reader to stop and reflect and maybe pray.

BTW, I lock my car doors everywhere. I look around and assess surrounding individuals' body language. I do this to form a consistent habit, not because I think "all Black men are a threat" - only three have been, in two holdups in 23 years of STL City living (once at BJC complex, once at home.). That's three, out of thousands of people I pass on the street. I have also been threatened by a white boy in a late-model high-end SUV at a Ladue (swanky suburb) intersection - road rage! - and have been followed (while I am driving) by sundry dirty old and young men, generally white (I usually drive to some public place like a hospital and wait them out).

NancyP

Stacey said...

I come here frequently to get your keen insight and to join you in your ranting in all of its bitchitude goodness.

What you have posted here is so theologically compeling. This is just beautiful and profound, especially what you say about your brother being "perfectly autistic." As a chaplain I will never forget it and will see the people I encounter as perfectly ______. As a preacher/theologian I will expound on this (I guess I'll refer to you as "the blogger" or Shark Fu because Angry Black Bitch probably wouldn't go over to well - LOL!) And as a person with the invisible disabilities of fibromyalgia and lupus I can accept that I have finally reached "perfection." Who would have thunk it!

Shark-fu said...

Nancy P...
I've read about medic ids or tags for elderly patients with Alzheimer's and there is some support for them in use with autistic adults but that's more to do with Bill getting lost than a police interaction.

Something to think about though...

jsb16 said...

I think the medic-alert tag idea is a worthwhile thought. Do you know if any of the national organizations for autists and families have something like that specifically for autists?

PortlyDyke said...

Shark-fu -- You bring me to tears every time you blog about your brother. Not sad tears -- joyful ones -- as I witness your love for him and the incredible voice you are for acceptance of our "perfectly autistic" friends and loved ones.

The thing that is currently chafing me about the "dangerous black male" myth is how much the media avoids/denies its responsibility in the creation and sustaining of this myth.

I fully believe that the counterpart to this myth -- that white men are assumed to be "safe" -- played a large part in why my childhood abuse perpetrator was assumed to be guiltless.

Hypatia said...

Shark-fu, you don't need me to tell you this, but you are beautiful.
I have nothing useful to add to this post, but had to say that I'm damn glad you're on this planet and writing.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

they do it here in the atl also, but rarely are the people comenteing articulate, but sometimes they are

Rileysdtr said...

Missy, sweetheart, dear one - lock your doors when you get into your car. It should be as much habit as putting your seatbelt on. Doesn't matter the neighborhood or the surroundings. It's simply a good habit. I know - you don't want to "live in fear." Look upon locked doors as a safety issue - is putting your seat belt on "living in fear?" Is locking your home at night "living in fear?" When you're safe in your car, you sit in the middle of a powerful weapon that can carry you to safety under even extreme circumstance in an assortment of scary places (and keep those knees down, people - everyone gets to define their own scary place). Look upon it as relieving Liberal Guilt, if you like. When a door is already locked you don't offend a brother of any color if you quick rush to lock them when he is walking by...

WNG said...

It's sad that you had to post that. Sad that we have to feel it. My nephew moved to the Bahamas a couple years ago and each night as I watch the news I am grateful that he's away and much safer than my cousins, uncles and Papa who are here.

MacDaddy said...

I spent a lot of time in Chicago hanging out in black neighborhood bars in the 80's and early 90's. When I heard about Sean Bell, I posted about it on my blog. I said I have the blues for Sean Bell, for Nicole, his wife-to-be, and the two kids who would never get to grow up with Sean around. I still have them.

Thanks, Shark-Fu.

Lethal said...

I pray your brother stays safe, but you make an excellent point. Too often (as in: almost always) cops "shoot first & ask questions later" when it comes to black men. &There's no accountability.

johlufc said...

Rileysdtr,you wrote just what i was thinking.Missy,you sound rather naive and somewhat idealistic.I am white,my girlfriend is black and we live in a predominantly black country(The Bahamas)and anytime we are driving in a 'questionable' area she is the first to lock the doors!Again,excellent blog Shark-fu.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeOaTpYl8mE

Anonymous said...

Hold on there Missy B. Violent places are dangerous. Somehow, violence happens in some places more than others.

I used to carry a gun. A friend (black, as it happens) asked why I carried it. "Because I'm going somewhere I might need it.", was my answer. "Then don't go there." He replied.

Dooh!

Kool Blacks? What's that all about? There's a gamut of persons and personalities (humanity, remember, we rejoice in it -- or at least PC says to.) within all races. And a black asshole is just as much an asshole as a lilly white one. You can call an asshole names. Any names you like. It's done daily.

This race thing is tough. It's clumsy. Both sides have baggage, bad experiences, and residual mistrust. Rational, residual mistrust. You think it's going to stop because someone bitches about how insane it all is?

Rave on!

HTH, no, really, I do.

R