It has happened again. A Black motorist, this time a musician who often played in Florida churches, stranded at 3 AM with car trouble, approached by a police officer. Dead. Details of what happened can, so far, only be reported by the officer who says that the victim, Corey Jones, was armed. Police shootings of Americans average just over 2 per day right now, and the rate of black lives taken in such shootings is 3 times that of whites.*
I, the White man, want to call this loss, deep loss. In my racialized world, it is. It must be. I listened to Corey Jones’ brother talk on the radio about his brother waiting for a tow truck in the median of the road at 3 AM. “How does that get you killed?” he asked. In my racialized world, it doesn’t. In Corey Jones’ world, it does.
He was a musician. He played in area churches. What if he had a gun? Isn’t that what the country largely thinks is the solution to violence? Arm yourselves! Carry a gun, even into churches! Stop violence! Or is that just an admonition of White people to White people? If you are Black or Brown, carrying a gun gives the police a justified reason to shoot you. Except that unarmed victims of police shootings is higher among Black people and Latinos.*
Here’s what I come to: in my world these tragedies would be loss, but what I am learning of the world outside of my racialized White space is that loss would be a step up. To experience loss, one has to have had something first in order to call it loss. No doubt, Corey Jones’ family has deep experience of loss around his death. No doubt. But trust in the larger society, in justice, in safety and security–these are things that my White space depends on being true and that Corey Jones and American Black and Brown people have never really had. Loss of these things would be a step up from “never had.”
In the meantime, as a nation and a culture, we all lose. In racialized White space, I’m not sure that, collectively, we even know that.
*See these stats compiled in the first half of 2015 by the Washington Post