You Can’t Ask For Help If You’re Black

by | Nov 7, 2013 | POLITICS

Around 2:30 in the morning on Saturday, November 2, a 19-year-old black woman from Detroit named Renisha McBride was in a car accident and could not call for help because her cell phone had died. She did what anyone in this situation would do; ask for help. She went to the nearest neighborhood, Dearborn Heights, a predominately white suburb in the Detroit area. When McBride knocked on the door, the resident of the home did not offer to help. Instead, as she was leaving the porch, he fatally shot her in the head, for fear that she was a criminal.

The Dearborn Heights police initially told McBride’s family that McBride had been shot elsewhere and “dumped” on the front lawn of the home where it was discovered. Only later did they make public that the owner of the home had shot her, and at that time they stated that the owner had acted in self-defense. Police have identified the man who shot her, but will not release his name nor will they say if he’s in or out of jail.

It is likely that the man who shot McBride will not be charged with anything because Michigan is a “Stand Your Ground” state. The “stand your ground” law is a castle doctrine that allows people to use deadly force if they perceive a threat. This same law was used to back George Zimmerman who was found not guilty after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin in Florida on February 26, 2012.

McBride’s family, rightfully so, wants justice and said that they will fight until they get it, but the issue of unwarranted violence against young of young African-Americans goes far beyond George Zimmerman and the McBride incident.

In September of this year, North Carolina police officer Randall Kerrick shot former Florida A&M University college football player Jonathan A. Ferrell ten times. Ferrell was in a car accident around 2:30 in the morning and knocked on the door of a resident to receive help. When the woman did not recognize him, she called the police. As the police approached him, Ferrell moved towards the police and they tried to stop him with a Taser. Ferrell still moved toward the police officers and Kerrick fired his gun several times and hit Ferrell multiple times.

This is painful. Innocent, unarmed teenagers who needed help were shot to death for fear of being a criminal. As Trudy of Gradient Lair points out in her post about Renisha McBride, whenever something like this happens, most white people will say that race had nothing to do with this situation and others like it.

“And I am even more disinterested in how instead of accountability for the racism that causes this to happen over and over, some Whites will derail with the usual White supremacist lie that Black people “don’t care” when crime is intraracial, when most crime for any race is intraracial, but specific racist history and structural power issues make Black victims of White assailants less likely to ever get justice,” Trudy writes.

This quote is all truth and nothing but the truth. As many people don’t understand, in America, when a black person is the victim of a white assailant, the black victim rarely gets justice. Many people will try to say “well, what about all of the white people murdered by black people,” and in doing so are contributing to the systematic ideas that contribute to the silencing of black victims and fail to understand that racism is oppression and power. Understand what racism is before saying that it has nothing to do with anything.

“Race also appears to play a significant role in whether a homicide is deemed justifiable. A recent study conducted by John Roman of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center found, ‘the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified,’ a reflection of the racial disparities that plague all aspects of the US criminal justice system,” noted Rania Khalek in her post entitled “Black Detroit Woman Shot to Death While Seeking Help In White Neighborhood After Car Crash.”

I hope that the family of Renisha McBride gets the justice that they deserve.

Aleda Weathers

Aleda Weathers

Aleda is a writer and a student at George Mason getting her Master’s in English. Her writing interests includes: fashion, art, culture, philosophy and music.

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