Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aiyana Jones's Death and Anger for the Sake of Anger?

"Black Pain" art by Timo Jattu
After seeing Max Reddick twitter a link to a post about the death of Aiyana Jones and people being angry for the sake of being angry, I popped over to his spot and read his commentary. Like Max, I wonder where the furor goes after a story disappears from headlines, which is why I revisited the Mitrice Richardson disappearance six weeks after the story broke. I also returned to a less tragic event months after its initial uproar, the story about the little girl whose braid was cut by a white teacher.

Commenting at Max's blog, Soul Brother V.2, I said that some people may be angry for the sake of being angry, but I think most people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. The challenge is how do we sustain outrage to the point of motivating people to work for a change.

Change should include addressing crime directly in our communities and to stop making excuses for people who resort to crime (I think we should stop lowering standards and demand accountability overall), but also we must continue to address police misconduct and brutality that treats the entire black community like it's some village of insurgents in the Middle East. (I have sometimes heard people make comments that sound like we have to choose crime reduction over fair treatment.)

I say that these types of tragedies, whether the result of criminal activity or police brutality, haven't hurt most of us enough yet. We may be like the hound dog in a story my friend tells. She speaks of a dog who is howling in pain when a stranger approaches its home.

The stranger asks the dog's owner on the porch, "What's wrong with him?"

Owner: "Sittin' on a nail."

The stranger looks around and sees that the dog is unchained and so he asks, "Why doesn't he get off it?"

Owner: Doesn't hurt enough yet.

I imagine that this dog suffers from some kind of mental dysfunction that prevents him from getting off that nail because it only hurts one part of his body. He is waiting for the nail to cause pain all over, from tip of the tail to tip of the nose.

Are we like that dog? Is it possible we are not taking action consistently against injustice because some of us don't feel the pain yet?

On a different note, I think we tread dangerous ground when we appear to shift blame from the police--who may have staged this raid outrageously for dramatic effect for A&E's reality crime show First 48--to the murder suspect. If we're not careful, we'll find that we seem to be saying that the police can enforce law and order by any means necessary.

We must speak against the criminals who turn our villages into war zones, and help the police in the fight against crime, but we cannot afford encourage police departments employing storm trooper tactics.

So, Do We Dare Seem to Blame Aiyana's Family for Her Death? Family lawyer says the police raided the wrong house. Suspect did not live in Aiyana's home. ... Read part two.

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