One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…. in rapid succession, bullets tore through bones, tissue, sinews, rupturing blood vessels, severing the connection between brain and legs, possibly confining a 29 year old father to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

After the fact, people sit back like Monday morning quarterbacks and dissect the circumstances. Dissect his life….

First, they question his actions, they wonder about his past, they postulate that he must have done something to trigger the trigger (if you will). Then they suggest that the shooting may have been justified, and that quick decisions have to be made in the field, rapid assessment of danger, and snap judgements.

Dr. Renee Grinnell describes “Just World Theory” as “the idea that people need to believe one will get what one deserves so strongly, that they will rationalize an inexplicable injustice by naming things the victim might have done to deserve it.” So essentially, the idea that bad things happen to bad people, so if something bad happened to you, you must be bad. The flip side of this conversation is self-insulating and self-comforting, I am good, so bad things won’t happen to me. Throughout our history there has been a clear delineation along racial lines, as to whether America is perceived as just or not. Black Americans know that bad things do happen to good people, and therefore have no comfort or security in believing that these things won’t happen to us.

In his book “Blink”, Malcolm Gladwell discusses snap judgements and how we as humans rapidly form impressions of other people, and how we use these impressions to guide our actions and interactions. Consider the case of Amadou Diallo.

In the early morning hours on February 4 1999, Four white plainclothes police officers wearing jeans, baseball caps and bullet proof vests, pulled up in an unmarked Ford Taurus. They approached a young African immigrant who was getting some fresh air on the steps of his Wheeler Avenue apartment in New York City. They fired 41 bullets, 19 of which found the mark, as 23-year old Amadou Diallo was trying to pull his wallet from his pocket either to show identification, or because he thought he was being robbed. (We’ll never know) He was dead before he hit the ground, arm outstretched, a rectangular black wallet in his open palm.

The officers were indicted, and at trial, they said they thought he had a gun. According to the transcripts, as they cruised slowly past the young man, they sized him up, and said they thought he looked suspicious. They backed the car up to take a second look, and Diallo didn’t move. The officers said they thought this was brazen, and they decided then, that he was dangerous. They approached him, he retreated toward his apartment simultaneously trying to pull his wallet from his pocket. They fired. Two of the four officers fired 16 shots each, emptying their clips. As the bullets tore through his body, he slumped into a crouched position, with his arm outstretched, still trying to give them the wallet. They said, he appeared to be in combat stance, and they continued shooting. Defense attorneys argued that it was just a horrible accident, and that police officers have to make life or death decisions in conditions of uncertainty…The jury agreed.

Diallo’s life was over from the moment they made that initial assessment that he was a potential criminal. They all testified that they never considered that he actually might have lived in that building. In 2014, young Tamir Rice’s life was over within 2 seconds of the officer pulling up to the park where he was playing with a toy gun. The assumptions that were made, triggered the fatal events that followed.

Research published by the American Psychological Association (2014) tells us that by the age of 14, kids of color are no longer viewed in the same way as white kids. They are no longer considered to be children, to have the innocence of childhood. They are now perceived as much older than they actually are. Girls of color are perceived to be sexually promiscuous, and boys of color are thought to be dangerous. So when (not if) our girls and young women are assaulted, “they were asking for it,” and when (not if) our boys and young men are killed, “they were suspicious and dangerous” even if merely standing outside their own homes. These assumptions based on negative stereotypes and biases, so rapidly and devastatingly escalate into tragedy and loss of precious human life. As Diallo’s mom’s tells it, in this short reflection 20 years later, “reaching for a gun is a perception” and that perception is colored by a history of racism in this country.

“Amadou Diallo, reggae music knows your name…” (Ziggy Marley circa 2000)

36 responses to “And Again. . .

  1. Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol Leshia Duane Melburn

  2. If you are interested to learn SEO methods then you should read this post, I am sure you will get much more from this paragraph about SEO. Annabelle Boyce Verner

  3. Hello there, I believe your site could possibly be having internet
    browser compatibility problems. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E.,
    it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide
    you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent site!

  4. I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before. Ines Pedro Wiles

  5. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is excellent, as well as the content! Robinia Berkley Thurber

  6. I just could not depart your web site before suggesting that I actually loved the usual info a person supply on your visitors? Is gonna be back incessantly in order to check out new posts Allyson Filberte Addi

  7. I think the problem for me is the energistically benchmark focused growth strategies via superior supply chains. Compellingly reintermediate mission-critical potentialities whereas cross functional scenarios. Phosfluorescently re-engineer distributed processes without standardized supply chains. Quickly initiate efficient initiatives without wireless web services. Interactively underwhelm turnkey initiatives before high-payoff relationships. Frankie Tobie Lyndy

  8. Primera vez que uso el servicio de Defensa al Consumidor, y la verdad me parecio muy bueno, tarda un poco de tiempo, pero una vez fijada la fecha, la misma se respeta, como asi tambien el horario, ya que mi representante me llamo minutos antes, logro defender mis derechos y salir favorable de una situacion. Cyndia Nicolai Calle

  9. Save your battery by reducing the brightness of your screen. To change brightness levels, simply go to Casino settings. This will conserve battery energy and extend the amount of time you will have before needing to recharge your battery. Karna El Pirzada

  10. I am actually glad to read this web site posts which consists of tons of helpful information, thanks for providing such information. Davita Nils Bottali

  11. Hooray for getting back home injury free! And yes, I unfortunately have WAY too much training in this department! Jennette Toiboid Traweek

  12. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice,
    keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future.

    Many thanks

  13. Right here is the right webpage for anyone who wishes to
    understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need
    to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been discussed
    for a long time. Excellent stuff, just great!

  14. Hey there. I discovered your blog by means of Google even as looking for a similar topic, your website came up. It looks great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then. Lonni Vittorio Artina

  15. My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site.
    He used to be totally right. This submit truly made my day.
    You cann't consider simply how much time I had spent for this info!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.