Blue Fear and Black Death: An old American Story
Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old pre-med graduate, was shot to death in her own home where she was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in Fort Worth, Texas. And again a life is taken.
In a surprising turn of events, this officer has been charged with murder, which almost never happens. But, he’s also been released from jail and is home with his family after taking a Black life… a story that America knows all too well. As we anticipate a lengthy public trial, there is little speculation about what his defense will be. As we’ve already seen with police attempts to amplify a supposed presence of a gun at the home, most certainly, he’ll say that he “feared” for his life.
We have witnessed over the last few years how a country has settled on defining what it means to justifiably kill another person. If a police officer is involved and that officer is afraid, they have permission to use deadly force to protect themselves.
Can I use that defense?
As a Black man in America, I have been the recipient of fear of the law enforcement community.
Several years ago, I was pulled over in what police call a “Felony Stop.” It includes several police cars and officers pulling you over aggressively and holding you at gunpoint. Several guns were pointed at my Black body. While they are handcuffing me with guns drawn I have to be mindful not to make any sudden movements because we don’t want to “spook” the officers. I was told that I was accosted because I was “coming from the area” where they believed a suspect was and two white women pointed me out as the perpetrator. Once the police realized their mistake, I was I was let go. In mid apology to me, the officers “joked” that it was lucky my daughter was not in the baby seat that sat in the back seat of my car. Through all that, no one asked me if I was scared.
Why? Fear IN the black man/woman cures fear OF the black man/woman.
Fear is my normal. Every day, all day. Now there is proof that not even in my own home should I let my guard down. So when an officer doing a welfare check sees someone in their own house, shoots and kills them, there will be some that justify the “fear” that the officer may or may not have had.
The idea that white America needs have surveillance of every move a black or brown person (B.o.B.P.) makes and the B.o.B.P. has to be complacent with that, exists in every level of our society from employment to home ownership. This is how systematic racism manifests and incidents like this underscore the extent to which this ideology has permeated. The ability to be safe in your own home is a hallmark of the American doctrine and yet we see once again that this is not an ideal that is shared evenly across the board.
What do we do about it? We talk about it, march about it, and talk about it some more. But where is the change going to come from when lives are still being taken because somewhere deep down in the soul of America, white is still afraid of black. White and “Blue” fear can not continue to justify murder. Especially when we as a nation have been socialized for centuries to fear Black and have anti-Black sentiment.
I serve an awesome God and believe that all things are possible for them who believe. BUT all the faith in the world is dead if works are not associated with it. When we look at research (which exists everywhere, even at Ben & Jerry’s website on Systematic Racism, https://www.benjerry.com/home/whats-new/2016/systemic-racism-is-real) we can see that we are dealing with a known issue, yet solutions to the problem remain elusive. How many lives have to be lost before it really matters? No justice, No Peace! Know Justice, Know Peace.
Rev. James Alberts is the president of ISAIAH and pastor of Higher Ground Church of God in Christ in St. Cloud, MN.
This is the first piece of an installment of work on the Antidote to Thoughts and Prayers Theology. If interested in contributing your writings with us, click here.
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