exploration of America's often unacknowledged dual consciousness about race.
"One must assume that the two armed white men had a right to
self-defense, and that the black man suddenly confronted by armed
strangers did not," Serwer writes of a young black man's instinct to defend himself when chased by white men in a pick-up, their rifles pointed at him. All Ahmaud Arbery was doing was going for a jog, exercising while black in the wrong neighborhood in Georgia. This happened back in February. Not until the world saw Ahmaud being executed on video—a video the man who leaked it thought would exonerate the killers—did calls for the arrest of the shooters become too loud and too political to ignore. For going on three months, Ahmaud's murderers walked free. And let's face it, when the trial happens, a jury of their peers may yet find them justified in killing a young black man who dared to resist the efforts of two strangers to murder him.
My heart is shredded by the killing of Ahmaud Artbery, and also of Breonna Taylor, and all the others whose names we don't know. Who is Breonna Taylor? you ask. She was an EMT in Kentucky asleep in her bed when cops broke down her door looking for a suspect who it turns out was already in custody. Not only did they have the wrong house, they also pumped eight bullets into this young black women on the frontlines of the covid-19 epidemic as she slept.
I'm gutted by the continued brutalization and destruction of black bodies for no reason other than their blackness. I'm filled with out-of-proportion rage, which feels like bone-deep sorrow, at cops who arrest black people for not social distancing in parks in poor communities, but hand out masks to white people picnicking in parks in more privileged communities.
I hate that once Donald Trump and his henchmen realized that two thirds of those dying from covid were black or brown or immigrant or poor—because they are over represented among the essential workers who are out there every day, knitting this country together, and they are the ones with the worst health care, and so many other reasons—he ceased to care about the disease's deadly march. And now the sickness is in the White House, one more sickness to join all the others in that house.
"The underlying assumptions of white innocence and black guilt are all part of what the philosopher Charles Mills
calls the racial contract,” Adam Serwer writes. "If the social contract is the implicit
agreement among members of a society to follow the rules—for example,
acting lawfully, adhering to the results of elections, and contesting
the agreed-upon rules by nonviolent means—then the racial contract is a
codicil rendered in invisible ink, one stating that the rules as written
do not apply to nonwhite people in the same way. The Declaration of
Independence states that all men are created equal; the racial contract
limits this to white men with property. The law says murder is illegal;
the racial contract says it’s fine for white people to chase and murder
black people if they have decided that those black people scare them. 'The terms of the Racial Contract,' Mills wrote, 'mean that nonwhite
subpersonhood is enshrined simultaneously with white personhood.'”
When I sat down to write here this morning, this isn't what I thought would find its way out. I realize now that I've been feeling numb all week, a defense against the other feelings simmering underneath. America is emotionally exhausting.
I got out the house for a walk yesterday. I stood under blue sky. Meanwhile in Dallas, my niece, who is a dentist, went back to work. She posted that picture of herself in full protective regalia. May we all be safe, from covid, from hate, from ignorance, from inept, narcissistic, mean government. On a more escapist note: The Last Kingdom on Netflix is very, very good.