There was a time when I thought that there needed to be a web site by this name. I'm not quite sure what is needed now, and today's post is going to be about why.
Trayvon Martin's death had a powerful effect upon me, but it feels like Mike Brown's death is politicizing me a lot more, or maybe that is something that would have happened anyway.
The thing is there were so many other deaths happening so closely together. Some of the names probably sound familiar - Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford - but they kept coming.
It was disturbing enough that they kept coming, but there were also things about how the media handled it that were concerns, and I started to wonder if there was some central repository where you could see them all and really get the full scope.
I searched and asked a little, but there didn't seem to be one, and I imagined a web site, Every 28 Hours, that would fill that need.
There were a few problems. One is that I could not just make it happen. I don't have site management skills or know-how for the running of it. I also didn't know what all it would take to be able to reliably collect that information, but I knew that it could get demoralizing very quickly.
I also had questions about the name. I did find some information disputing the numbers, but apparently at one point the statement had been made that an unarmed black man is killed by the police every 28 hours, and the number was wrong because not all of them were unarmed. Focusing on that number might not be the best choice.
Those were all reasons why I didn't pursue it, but the issue didn't fade from my mind, and it just became more complicated. There can be so much to it.
First of all, there were many deaths that were not by the police. Back to Trayvon Martin, he was not killed by the police. The initial hesitance to press charges certainly made it feel like the police weren't helpful, but that's a different thing. Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis were not shot by the police, but that their shooters were so quick to take black lives seems like it could be related to the issues that play into the police shootings. Do you track all shootings? All murders?
For those shot who were armed, there is usually an assumption that they had it coming, and it had nothing to do with race, but there have been many dangerous white felons whom the police were able to take in alive, despite them being armed. Do you have to track everyone who doesn't get shot?
There is also the question of media coverage. The New York Times obituary for Michael Brown focused on how he was no angel, and referred to his love of rap as part of that, but they used a love of rap as a way to humanize the Tsarnaev Brothers, who actually killed and maimed multiple people.
Of course the media is trying to stir interest and sell papers or acquire page hits, so their motivations are commercial, and I get that, but it often seems like the reporting is trying to justify why some deaths are acceptable. They're not.
I remember reading one story about a death that sounded like funeral attendees started fighting and one person ended up dead, and so you could just think, well, these are trashy people. Sometimes they kill each other.
That wasn't what happened. The funeral-goers were gathered at an American Legion Post. This was new to me but apparently a lot of halls and lodges also have bar type areas or even dance areas, where it functions like a club. One man who was not part of the funeral party kept hitting on a woman in the funeral party all night, and she kept refusing him, and he attacked her and killed her.
Maybe things could have been done differently there. I don't know if there would have been a way to evict him, or if it seemed like he was just a nuisance right up until he pulled out the gun, but none of that is clear from the initial reports, and later reports indicate no one knows if he has been charged, which seems like a bad sign. They caught him, there were witnesses; shouldn't the media be all over that?
There were a lot of people arguing that Jordan Davis's death was his own fault for goofing off with the gun and not complying with police orders, but if you have seen the video footage then you know that he wasn't pointing it, and there was no time to comply with the orders. The media also reported that the original 911 call came from a former Marine, and that is what helped some people be sure that he accurately assessed the threat, because Marines know their stuff. They do, but this guy was not a Marine. Those things came out, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who think that Davis got himself killed.
It becomes a very complicated thing, when you have people who are sure that there is not a problem, to find a way to show them that there is a problem. There are no answers in this post; I don't have them yet.
I guess my biggest thing is that I read a lot. I read books and news and magazines, and things fit together. Any one incident could be an aberration, but if you know enough incidents then it's not. And I totally get not having time to take in and study everything. That's why we really need media and politicians to be getting it right, because that's their job, but if they don't, then what?
So those are the things I am always thinking about at the back of my mind, these past couple of weeks. I seem to have offended someone, but I kind of don't care. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it should. We should not feel comfortable with the way people are discounted due skin color and gender and economic status.
If you can demonstrate that your political and economic policies aren't harmful, and that they do not favor those who already have money and power over those who don't, great. You may find something that I've missed.
I am trying to find my way to be more helpful, and what I can contribute. That being said, while these thoughts are swirling in my head, and they sound very anti-rich, I am trying really hard to make more money, and not only because it would allow me to contribute more. I will write more about that next week.
For now, though I still have so many thoughts about sexism and economics and incarceration, I need to write about other things for a bit. So probably some writing about writing, some comics, and then I start writing about the very long reading list. As always, Thursday and Friday will be music reviews. The Lemonheads tomorrow will be my 187th band!