Thursday, September 15, 2005

"It Was as if All of Us Were Already Pronounced Dead"

This Washington Post article describes much of what happened in the convention center last week.

It's pretty hard to read, especially the constant excuse to dismiss sitting idly by while other people are being hurt and dying. The scenes where the police toss water off of the car into the crowd and drive off and the one where they stage a rescue mission for two white women are pretty hard to believe. It kind of sounds like a comedy show about a fictional racist police force, except with real life corpses.

It helps remind me a few things about this tragedy:
1) I still think that people are having a hard time understanding that this wasn't a crowd of evil colored folks. This was a diverse crowd of American individuals. There were church-goers, loving mothers and fathers, nurses, teachers, grandmothers and gang members. Just like folks from any neighborhood.

2) The was a complete dehumanization of these Americans by the different levels of law enforcement. The police, national guardsfolks and other officials were super-scared to do their job and protect and communicate with their own citizens. Their excuses are crap. They were making choices based on their own cowardice at dealing with their fellow Americans and chose to let them suffer based on the fact that there wasn't a definitive order to save people. It's quite possible that this isn't unusual--maybe most Americans would do the same--stand idly by and watch their countrypeople die, but if so, it's a real bad sign. This resulted in utterly illogical behavior. I'm sorry, if you set up the same situation in any place in the country--people starving and being attacked--and then toss a few bits of food and water into the crowd because you are too scared to hand it out, you are going to get the same result, and you certainly aren't getting water to the people who need it most.

This tragedy has brought up a lot of heated talk about race in the mainstream discourse. I agree with people's argument that there was little intentional racism on the part of officials in their response. Much of the suffering was related to class rather than race.

But in this one instance, we saw the same problem we see on our streets everyday. Many law enforcement officials simply cannot deal with people of color. They cannot judge them independent of their race and they cannot empathize enough to do their jobs.

There won't be city destroying floods every month or year, but there will continue to be needlessly dead folks of color on a daily basis as long as we excuse our public servant's inability to deal with non-criminal, hard-working Americans who happen to have a darker skin tone.

Welcome to folks coming in through the link on the Washington Post Page. Hope you learn something and most of all, please share your insights through your own comments! Thanks!


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