DESTROY DENIAL. #EricGarner #ICantBreathe
Eric Garner, father of six, was choked to death last summer.
As I wrote here, he “was choked to death by police for potential sale of untaxed cigarettes.”
Today a grand jury failed to indict the police officer who killed him. This is so despite the fact Eric’s death was filmed, or that choke holds had been banned in the jurisdiction since 1993.
Eleven times he said he couldn’t breathe. Eleven times he was ignored by someone who had likely surmised–from precedent long preceding Mike Brown–consequences would be few to none.
My ex-boyfriend was better with computers than people, which made him a better teacher than boyfriend in some ways.
One of the most important things he taught me was to be especially vigilant facing the things I didn’t want to face. The fact I didn’t want to face them meant I’d already recognized there was some measure of unwanted truth in them, else why not ask the question? Why not at least consider their ramifications, if only in the hypothetical?
When I wrote about how quickly people said Woody Allen couldn’t be a pedophile on account of his wonderful art contributions, I didn’t mean to say that he was guilty or innocent. What I wanted to drive home was people’s unwillingness to even address the possibility that someone beloved could be a genius and a criminal all at once, both a creator and a destroyer.
Unwillingness to see things we don’t want to see doesn’t keep us safe. Even more importantly, it doesn’t keep vulnerable segments of society safe. In fact, it tells those who are vulnerable that we who are better equipped to protect ourselves care more for our fragile sense of safety than the actual safety of all our human brethren. It tells children and people of color, among others, that our sense of safety is more important than their actual safety.
Worse than that, it tells perpetrators that we are prepared to protect them because it’s less painful to us.
So children are molested. People of color are killed for maybe, possibly selling untaxed cigarettes.
In my Woody Allen post I wrote, with emphasis added:
I will look upon things it is hard to look upon.
I will see that which is hard to see.
I will hear that which it’s hard to hear.
I will not deny, nor take part in perpetuating violence by my denial.
Before dating my ex, I found refuge in denial, as if I changed truth by refusing to see it. Thanks to my ex, I regret that I ever took such a position.
It’s my regret that inspires me to challenge you to ask yourself the questions so terrible you cringe even reading them.
What if some police sometimes killed unjustly?
What if racism still exists today, not in my heart but elsewhere?
Does petty crime–or mere suspicion of petty crime?–warrant death without jury?
What if some–not all, for many serve to protect all truly–are enabled to dehumanize the Other, knowing there will likely be few consequences thanks to the widespread power of denial?
It’s a terrible thing to take off denial’s mighty blinders, but:
it is only by taking in what actually is that “what is” can become “what was.”