In my lifetime I have killed hundreds of roaches. It never bothered me. Those critters are beneath me so I never saw a problem with killing them or felt that I should face consequences when I did so. This is precisely what is happening with the Walter Scott case today. Walter Scott was killed by a policeman who fired eight shots at him as he was running away from the officer. It was all caught on camera. Still, the jury will not convict the murderer–who is White–because it bothers the hell out of some people to think that the life of a Black man is on par with a White man. To the White supremacist, killing a roach and killing a “nigger” are not too far different. That is what this trial is about.
This did not start with the Walter Scott trial. Booker Spicely served in the United States Army during WWII. One day in Durham, North Carolina he boarded a bus, toward the rear. When ordered to move further back by the bus driver to accommodate White soldiers, Spicely took offense. Spicely eventually exited the bus and was followed by the bus driver who shot him to death, then continued along his route. The driver actually got back on the bus as if he’d simply killed a roach and continued to drive. It never occurred to the bus driver that he was dealing with an equal, soldier or not. That kind of thinking can be traced directly to a Supreme Court justice who said that Black people have “no rights which the White man was bound to respect.” The quote sounds almost laughable today but the thinking behind it is still alive and well in Walter Scott’s case.
Deep down, far too many in 2016 feel that “white” is superior. Period. They don’t necessarily speak of it in those terms but honestly, why else would a juror struggle to convict an officer who shot at a man running away eight times then made up a false story to justify the shooting, which the video ultimately disproved? What else explains the hesitance? This cannot be about the law for this same legal system routinely convicts people who are Black (especially poor and Black), despite DNA evidence to prove their innocence. There is something (and especially someone) in that jury that just can’t admit that what the officer did was wrong. Why? He shot a ‘nigger’ and that just can’t be worth sending a White man to prison. It offends the very core of White supremacy and that is what is hindering a guilty verdict in what appears to be a clear cut case.
This is 2016 and White supremacy is still alive and well. Killing me and killing a roach, for many people, is not too far different. We have the video to prove it in Scott’s case but those of us who grew up Black know this case is not as exceptional as we would hope. With all that understood, we place no hope in the system. Yes, we work to change it but in the meantime we must rely on ourselves and our community to build power. We welcome help from the White House but we do not expect it. We will build with each other and overcome together. White supremacy is alive and well but so are we.