Black LIves Matter

So, What's the Going Price for a Black Life These Days?

Family of Philando Castile, including his mother, Valerie, respond to the acquittal of his killer. (Craig Lassig/European Pressphoto Agency)

Family of Philando Castile, including his mother, Valerie, respond to the acquittal of his killer. (Craig Lassig/European Pressphoto Agency)

Weeks after being gutted by the acquittal of that asshole that murdered Philando Castile, we found out that Castile's family is being awarded a $3 million settlement.  I'm happy for them.  Really, I am.  It won't bring their loved one back, but at least it's something, and God knows they deserve something.  Yet, happy as I am when I hear of families receiving some sort of financial restitution, it is never enough, as a cash payout for a stolen life can never be enough.  And after so many headlines like this, I have to ask why is it that all these cities, all these police departments would rather shell out cash by the millions instead of putting an end to the carnage? 

This is happening across this country in cities large and small, but we'll focus on just one.  Back last year it was reported that the cash strapped city of Chicago had paid out over $662 million in a little over a decade for police misconduct.  That's over half a billion dollars.  Yet, the city has only made token efforts to reform its police department, because apparently they'd rather just keep killing Black and Brown folks and paying off their families instead of making real changes to get real results.  I don't claim to have all the answers to end police misconduct towards minorities, but surely half a billion dollars, if pointed in the right direction, could effect some real change?  But instead, Chicago, and other cities and towns like it, would rather keep the status quo than keep their money.  It defies logic.  But to do otherwise would be to defy racism.

The police department and the cities that support them are built on a foundation of white supremacy; racism is woven into the very fabric of American society.  To start to pull at all the bad threads that make up that society could cause the entire cloth to unravel.  Dismantling these systems -- of which police misconduct is but a symptom -- will take time, effort, and yes, money.  More time, effort and money than our society is apparently will to expend just to save a few minority lives. 

How many more lives will be snuffed out?  Shootings by police are at an all time high, white supremacy retains its chokehold on American society, and the taxpaying populace seems almost perfectly content to shell out $3 million here, half a billion there for the loss of a life in state sponsored murder.  In Chicago the total was $662 billion from 2004 - 2016.  What will that figure look like in the next decade? 

No Justice for Philando Castile

Another day, another injustice.  Another murderer in blue free to go on with his or her life.  Philando Castile, murdered in callous cold blood, will not see justice through the courts.  I don't often quote religious texts, but Genesis 4:10 is applicable here: "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground."  What have you done, America?  Because Philando's blood cries still, its voice mingled with that of untold numbers of others killed by a coven of predators masquerading as protectors.

We were all there.  We sat in the claustrophobic confines of that car with him and we saw his murder through the unflinching eye of his girlfriend's camera as she recorded his last breaths.  It was one of the clearest cases of murder yet, and even then, some knew that it would all come to naught.  Foolishly, I was one of the ones that hoped, hoped as never before that for once the preponderance of clear evidence in this case would be enough.  That for once, one of us would see justice.  But nope.  The thin blue line has held, and this young man, this young man that did everything right, did everything the respectability hordes of the internet say should keep you safe, will not see justice.  Not him, not any of those before him, and not any of those that will surely come after.

Another long awaited verdict came down today also.  It was for a terrible crime, where a young girl sent a series of indescribably cruel texts to her young boyfriend, encouraging him to kill himself, until one day he did just that.  The court found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Do not mistake me here -- I feel this is just, and hope that she is sentenced as harshly as possible.  But how surreal is it to hear this verdict on the very same day that that an officer of the law, who snuffed out a life like it was nothing at all, is to walk free, cleared on all charges.  This man, who held an instrument of death and deliberately pumped seven bullets into another man is somehow not guilty of murder.  Other charges were also brought against him, but he won't even be held responsible for endangering the lives of the other two innocents in the car, Philandro's girlfriend and her daughter, lives he physically endangered in that moment,  but psychologically endangered for the rest of their lives.  Yet, a girl that sent words -- not bullets -- is guilty of manslaughter.  Our society can see the clear wrongness of what she did and set in motion the wheels of justice, but cannot see fit to punish a murder caught on video.  If you knew nothing at all about the two dead men at the center of these cases but the outcomes, would you be able to guess their respective skin colors?

Another day, another injustice, another check mark in the column that says that for most in this country, Black lives don't matter.  Rest in power, Philando.  Your blood cries out to us still.