I do not like summer. I mean, I enjoyed my summer trips as a child, but my journey to consciousness betrayed summer as bearing the heat of white supremacy, staining the collective black memory with the darkness of white privilege. The season evokes thoughts of Emmett Till, the teenaged Chicago boy who journeyed to the south for summer vacation. He’d come home in a box, mutilated, shot and drowned–his murderers to live long healthy lives basking in the gruesome glory of racial terrorism.
Prior to Till there was Eugene Williams—a black youth stoned after drifting to a(n) (unofficial) white beach on July 27,1919. His death offset months of vile attacks thrust onto black bodies, black homes, and black businesses without regret or remorse. The heat of summer has since remained a common backdrop in inflicting racial terror onto the black collective.
It was summertime in the city, and I was nearing the end of my commute when the Trayvon Martin verdict surfaced. The bus has just pulled to the sidewalk when the verdict went viral– sucking teeth and sounds of disappointment and fury flooding the background as I exited the bus. I checked my Facebook and my feed was flooded with outrage. We as a collective lost Trayvon in 2012, but lost him again the following summer when the rendered verdict validated George Zimmerman– a prejudiced neighborhood watch member–in his murder of a seventeen-year-old child.
Although Martin was not the first or the last black body slain in the wrath of white supremacy, his slaying, like Williams in 1919 and Till in 1955, awoke many from a state of denial regarding the reality of race in America.
Flash forward to June 16, 2017, and the Philando Castile’s verdict arrives on the cusp of summer. Unlike Till, and Martin, Castile’s murder was caught on camera, igniting many to hope that technology would shine a spotlight onto black injustice. But that hope fell flat when the jury returned with a “not guilty” verdict.
This news is not unexpected, but its engagement with technology perhaps makes the result more brutal. In footage captured from Castile’s girlfriend at the scene of the crime, viewers are cast as spectators in what turned out to be the final moments of Castile’s life, as a four- year-old child watched from the back seat. Moreover, the not guilty verdict functions to simultaneously vindicate murdering a young black man reaching for his wallet and seizing the innocence of a black child in the process. Castile’s murder and trial depicts visibility as solely functioning to corroborate white supremacy, and terrorize the black collective in mirroring a past where black bodies were murdered as a public spectacle. Whether seen or reported, the murdered black body proves injurious to not just the life lost but the other losses birthed in transition.
This loss is perhaps most evident in the large amount of blacks who have grown numb to the systemic attacks continually launched onto our communities. I logged into my abandoned Facebook account to see that no one commented on the verdict. Instead every post focused on some banal component of individualism, insignificant in the greater picture of black injustice. The tragedies that bestow themselves onto the black collective should ideally function to unite the masses, but instead it has seemingly divided the black community into the indifferent, the scared, the oblivious, the individualistic, the activist and the opportunist. The fraction of those consciously dedicated to the cause of black justice has always been small, but has seemingly divided into an even smaller group. The faces, and tweets of the pseudo movement look good and sound better, but lack substance in their superficial engagement with racial conflict. This reality makes it so that the conscious gaze must not only cope with the murderers of black bodies running free, but representation by pseudo activists that only seem to desire their fifteen minutes of fame.
Subsequently, the extensive fame and criticism that has followed Donald Trump in his recent election also reflects a community oblivious, or frightened by the severity of racial injustice. Trump is a contemporary fixation and scapegoat for a system corrupt since conception. Discussions surrounding impeaching Trump would not alleviate racism, it would extinguish an individual–which does virtually nothing to liberate the black collective. Martin, Brown, Crawford, Rice, Bland, and countless others were murdered under the Obama administration- illustrating the issue is not in the face but the fascism that fuels a racist climate.
If the verdict of Castile teaches us nothing, it’s that we must impeach the constitution and Declaration of Independence–as both documents dot their I’s and cross their t’s in the spilled blood of Abducted Africans. The cruelty cast onto our collective is constitutional whereas black truth and justice is unconstitutional in a land established on our enslavement. America obtained their independence from Britain and in exchange took the collective independence from the abducted Africans in the transatlantic slave trade, making the wrong inflicted onto our past and present state central in establishing the western conception of “right.” Furthermore, this barbaric nation casts the black body as an inevitable causality to which the white gaze regards indifferently.
So as summer nears and the masses anticipate vacations and rising hemlines, the hot wrath of white supremacy awaits its next black victim, who will be murdered in body, bludgeoned by the media, and set ablaze by a verdict that illustrates contemporary colonialism in the words “not guilty.” Guilt is antithetical to the white mindset, a conscious sacrificed to create states united only in quest of a pseudo supremacy where laws are not lawful and justice isn’t just.
To Philando Castile and every other black man, woman, or child sacrificed in the viscious plight to maintain a fictive white superiority, I can only hope that your transition grants you a peace simply incompatible with western cowardice.
Rest in Power.