From Amadou Diallo to Michael Brown and all the black men before and between, evidence abounds of a systemic, patterned, and unjust assault on American black men.
As I peruse bits and pieces of the latest news (lord knows I can’t read it all lest I lose my everloving mind), I have generated a theory about the prevalence of white police brutality against black men. Now, I’m sure I’m not the first or only person to set forth the theory below, but I think it is worth mentioning nonetheless (if for no other reason than to archive my own meaning-making in this dismal moments).
It is my conjecture that white men have a deep, historical, and pathological insecurity in the face of black masculinity. Black masculinity that is praised ad nauseam for its athletic prowess in professional sports. Black masculinity that is quietly fetishized in the pornographic imaginations of many. Black masculinity that is resilient and enduring despite hundreds of years of subjugation and oppression. Black masculinity which defies and beats odds. Black masculinity which has been the creative force behind jazz and hip-hop, aesthetics so far-reaching and culture-changing. Black masculinity which has gifted us with some of the most iconic artists and entertainers in American culture. Black masculinity in the White House.
And when these white cops encounter this black masculinity, they are so ill-equipped to deal with the surge of insecurity, they do the only thing they know how to do to in order to feel powerful: they shoot. And they kill. I believe that they feel outdone by black men according to the many (definitely problematic) measures of masculinity, and as a result, they are driven to extreme, racialized aggression. In this country, black men are STILL not seen as whole human beings. They are seen as brutes to be controlled and constant threats to be preemptively struck. And until white men–and especially white cops– work out the psychological dysfunction of their imagined deficit in the face of black masculinity, they will continue to enact psychological and physical violence against the very ones they envy most.