AN OPEN LETTER TO BLACK MEN

Dear America's 22,000,000 black males,

I wasn't good at playing make-believe as a child and I'm no better at it as an adult. The best course of action is to call things as they are and not how we might like them to be. The reality, as we stand here looking back at another dead unarmed black male who posed enough of a threat to merit a lethal response, is that if the George Zimmermans and Darren Wilsons of the world are justified in doing what they did then our legal system has decided as a whole that being a black male is probable cause. You are legally a threat by virtue of the fact that you are a black male. Nothing you do or wear or say matters. The probable cause is that you exist; you are black and male and anyone who shoots you only needs to point out those two facts because it is universally recognized that black males are threatening.

The legal system and law enforcement are structured in a way that allows me, a white male, to justify doing violence to you up to and including taking your life simply by claiming that I felt threatened by you. In fact, my legal footing is stronger if I do take your life since that eliminates the potential of a conflicting version of events being presented in court (not that there is likely to be a trial, nor that your version of events would be considered credible). The logic, such as it is, is tautological; I felt threatened because you are a black male, because black males are threatening. Every one is a mugging, shooting, sexual assault, or burglary waiting to happen. I don't need to justify it because everyone (within the white power structure, of course) knows that that's just How You People Are.

My right to respond to feeling threatened in whatever manner I choose is worth more in the eyes of the law than black men's lives. If you and I have some sort of altercation, I can wait until it's over and you are 100-some feet away and then shoot you. I can shoot you even if you are running away because you are still a threat because you are always a threat. You are never not a threat when in public. Your best course of action might be to stay at home and indoors, although that will protect you only from vigilantes. Law enforcement is another story.

If anyone interprets my tone here as endorsing this reality, that is not the case. There is no point in kidding ourselves as a society, though: when a grand jury decides that a police officer shooting an unarmed teen isn't even worth discussing, that's a special kind of brazen. With Rodney King at least we went through the charade of a trial before declaring the cops Not Guilty. Now apparently law enforcement doesn't even feel compelled to do that much. It wouldn't have been hard to go through the motions and have an all-white jury return a resounding Not Guilty. Hell, it's pretty much standard operating procedure in these situations. But they did not decide that Darren Wilson is not guilty – they decided that whether or not he is guilty isn't even worth discussing.

In closing, as a Leader in the White Community it is of course my responsibility to apologize for my fellow white people. Please don't read any comment sections for the next week or two.

Sincerely,
Ed
White Person, 1978-present

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49 Responses to “AN OPEN LETTER TO BLACK MEN”

  1. Marilyn D Says:

    I feel worse tonite than I did on election nite…..that can be corrected in a couple years. This can't, unless Holder decides to jump in…..then there be screeching from all the usual suspects. Fk em all….

    Marilyn
    White female 1945-present

  2. Xynzee Says:

    No words. It was expected. We hoped. But it was expected.

    Robert: do we want to see what we can do to get you and your clan to safer shores?

  3. geoff Says:

    Not being surprised may be the worst part. I lived in LA in '92 when the Rodney King verdict came down and mentioned to my kid how scary it was. She was surprised that Rodney King was not killed– it's like we're moving backwards.

  4. Major Kong Says:

    "Please don't read any comment sections for the next week or two. "

    Good idea.

    Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments.

  5. Fiddlin Bill Says:

    Your logic is impeccable. Thanks for your clarity, which is sorely lacking in many quarters these days.

  6. duquesne_pdx Says:

    I thought racism was over once the Kenyan Usurper was elected. Silly me. /s

    @Geoff: Once they announced that the grand jury had come to a conclusion and that the press conference was going to announce the decision after several hours, I knew. When I heard that the governor was mobilizing the NG several days before a decision was expected, I knew. Hell, when I heard that a cop had gunned down an unarmed and fleeing kid, I knew.

    I'm not sure if it's cynicism or realism at this point. I wish it didn't need to be realism.

  7. jon Says:

    They decided not to charge him with murder or manslaughter, but I guess it never came up whether assault or excessive force or anything else could have been tried. Just like the Rodney King cops couldn't be tried for beating the shit out of a man, only civil rights violations that required some sort of proven conspiracy to get a conviction.

    Funny how cops always get overcharged, too. Prosecution is out of control in this country, to the benefit of the status quo.

  8. c u n d gulag Says:

    And because Ferguson erupted after the verdict, the racists will use that as another excuse to kill black people – especially young black males.

    Btw – I don't believe in violence, but in peaceful protesting. But I can't say that I blame the people there for erupting.
    I might feel differently about violence if I were a young black male.

  9. John L. Driessnack Says:

    So depressing and yet so predictable. Wake up America.

  10. John Danley Says:

    "Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up." — James A. Baldwin

  11. Whatver Says:

    So, in case you were wondering how that episode of the Andy Griffith show where Barney confronts a bully turns out in real life? Now you know.

  12. arjun Says:

    Sorry to disagree with you, Ed, (i usually agree with your points), but some of your statements and those of other commenters are in stark contrast to the facts. The grand jury, on the other hand, had all the information they could get their hands on and made a decision based on the evidence, rather than a thirst for pure vengance, regardless of the circumstances.

    I would have been in favor of the decision of the grand jury no matter which way it went, but obviously the crowd was ready to lynch officer Wilson from the start. This case is more complicated than most people want to admit.

  13. Mike Says:

    "Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments.
    Never read the comments."

    And yet here I am.

  14. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @geoff:

    It dawned on me in a conversation last night that one of the reasons OJ's acquittal didn't get the universal condemnation from the Black Community that white conservatives demanded was that, in a way that's very hard to explain if you weren't there, LA was still severely traumatized from the King verdict.

    It's not that anyone really thought OJ deserved to walk – it was a "first as tragedy…" sort of cathartic absurdity.

    This one is so, so much worse. I'm not sure there's any coming back from this.

    As a white dude, I have nothing productive to say about it.

    I don't plan to visit reddit over the holidays.

  15. sluggo Says:

    The kid allegedly grabbed the gun WHILE the cop was in the car. Good God man, roll up the window and put the damn car in drive. Call for backup. that would be just too damn smart. Hire smarter cops.

    Every talks about the fact that the kid was 6'4". do you know who else was 6'4"? The cop? Hire tougher cops.

    The cop feared for his life? What a fucking candy ass. Hire braver cops.

    It has been my experience that if someone wants to be a cop, they generally should not be a cop.

  16. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @sluggo:

    LOL.

  17. railsplitter Says:

    After hearing the verdict, I have to struggle with the urge to move to Canada. I wonder if there's any way to politically fight (and win) against the reactionary plutocracy that the US has become.

    Great post Ed. Would you mind if I sent it to the letters to the editor of our local paper?

  18. DWhite Says:

    Mark Twain had it down a long time ago:

    "Good gracious! Anybody hurt?"
    "No'm, killed a n*gger"

  19. Scott Peterson Says:

    Arjun—

    "The grand jury consists of six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man. Nine votes are needed to indict."

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ferguson-case-racial-and-gender-makeup-of-grand-jury-revealed/

    Yeah. I think it's important we all have faith in this clearly unbiased grand jury run by a prosecutor, whose brother, nephew & cousin are all cops, whose mom was cop clerk for 20 years and whose dad was a cop killed in duty. Absolutely no hint of possible bias there. Good call.

  20. J. Dryden Says:

    Just cut-and-paste this headline every day until it sinks the fuck in:

    "Large Number Of White People Horribly Exploited By Smaller Number Of White People; Mass Poverty, Despair Results; Black People Blamed, Targeted, Persecuted."

  21. c u n d gulag Says:

    Something tells me that if Wilson shot a ham sandwich instead of a young black male, the DA could have had the Grand Jury hand-down an indictment against the policeman.

  22. Jared Says:

    Don't be silly. He'd have had the jury hand down an indictment of the ham sandwich, for theft of police ammunition.

  23. Tim H. Says:

    The cops need something more subtle than a 9mm automatic, even a taser would've been more appropriate. And would it be too trollish to point out that if not for "free trade" treaties, Michael Brown might've had gainful (more or less) employment? A lot of low end bicycle parts used to come out of St. Louis…

  24. Mo Says:

    I have to quit viewing anything about this for awhile, because it makes me cry with rage. The last straw on the We-Are-So-Fucked pile.

    St. Louis needs to be evacuated, bombed into radioactive gravel, the earth salted, and the inevitable Keystone Death Funnel run through the wasteland.

    And then maybe Mississippi can be sold to the Chinese as a site for Re-education Holiday Resort Work Camps, starting with the local white population as clientele.

    Let's just blow the levees and turn the Mississippi River on Louisiana.

  25. Khaled Says:

    @ Dryden, & Gulag (both comments)- Right on.
    This prosecutor got his prime time special, laying out all the bullshit reasons that he didn't get this jury to indict. He mights as well have said "Those darkies LIE" at the beginning. Seriously, dude gets slapped and he pulled his gun and started shooting? Oh, that's right, the big black guy "went for the gun". Shit, anyone else ever watch The Wire? Thats what you say when you fuck up- "he went for my gun, so I had to lay him out".

    4 and 1/2 hours laying in the street. What the fuck.

    Ignorant assholes with "I fought the law and the law won" memes with Michael Brown lying dead in the street. By the same exact assholes that posted support for that terrorist Cliven Bundy, who pointed more guns at law enforcement than Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin ever did combined.

    I'm also still waiting for the dude in NE Pennsylvania who shot the state troopers to be called a terrorist or a thug. I have a feeling I'll be waiting a long time for that.

    Shit like this makes me want to move to Canada. I like hockey and the cold doesn't bother me.

  26. Robert Says:

    Xynzee – thanks for the kind thought. It was a rather quiet evening here at our house.

    Our older son is seventeen, six three, and 210 pounds. Gentlest, sweetest teenage boy you'd ever want to meet. Should I let him out of the house? Should he even want to?

    I know that anything you love immediately becomes something you can lose, but not like that, please.

  27. Skipper Says:

    Let me get this straight. If a cop is frightened of an unarmed teenager or a 12-year-old with a BB gun, he's justified in shooting them dead. But if I'm in the waffle house and two Second Amendment goobers with short dicks come in with AK47s slung over their shoulders, I'm supposed to act like nothing is going on. Is this a great country or what?

    In other industrialized countries, annual police killings are counted in the single digits — with 0 being the digit in some countries. In the US, they're numbered in the hundreds. I believe it was 400+ the last time someone checked.

  28. sallys dad Says:

    @Arjun,

    You might want to consider that this happened at the same PD where an inocent man, who just happened to be Black, was charged with distruction of property for bleeding on the cops uniform – This of course was after he was beaten bloody by said cop, wearing said uniform.

    Wake the hell up!

    White Male
    1949- Present

  29. Reince Your Priebus Says:

    Saying we should trust the grand jury because they had "all the facts" is just straight up laughable. They did an information dump in order to confuse and overwhelm the GJ and present as much conflicting information as possible.

  30. Halcyon Says:

    If you haven't seen it yet, the prosecutor's document dump contains some real gems. Here's "Witness #40's" hand written journal of the day, which he apparently turned over to the state at some point. I don't want to spoil it, but, well, here's the first paragraph:
    "8 Am. Well I’m gonna take my random drive to Florissant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks N*****s and start calling them People. Like dad always said you cant fear or hate an entire race cause of what one man did 40 yrs ago. "

    http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370734-witness-40-journal-entry.html
    Enjoy the heartwarming story of a man who wakes up, decides to go on a magical journey of racial healing, gets helped by some "realy sweet" young locals after getting lost, watches a horrible tragedy, and then is helped home by another "real nice" local man. Swear to god, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

  31. sinned34 Says:

    After hearing the verdict, I have to struggle with the urge to move to Canada.

    Shit like this makes me want to move to Canada.

    Sadly, replace "cop" with "RCMP" and "african american" with "first nations", and almost everything Ed says here could work in Canada.

    Canada: it's not that we're better than America, it's just that we're slightly less worse.

  32. McDee Says:

    I served on a Grand Jury earlier this year. Not one time did anyone appear on behalf of the accused nor did any of the accused appear. The proceedings were always led by the District Attorney or by an assistant DA.

    The jury was made up a a reasonable cross section of the community. There were a couple of retirees (I was one) some students, retail sales clerks, a small business owner, a county employee, etc.

    One thing we all had in common was absolutely no knowledge of finer points of law, no training in cross-examination of witnesses.

    There was a State Code book on the table in front of each of us, written by lawyers for lawyers.

    One thing that is always difficult for a group like that is confusing information overload. It looks like that was the case in Ferguson.

    One thing I learned was the Grand Jury almost always, always, always sides with the cops and the prosecution.

  33. Robert Says:

    Years ago, I saw a cartoon of a 1950s Dick and Jane style Officer McFriendly, smiling and saying, "I'm going to kick your ass and get away with it!"

    Never thought that would be the good old days.

  34. RosiesDad Says:

    I am reminded of this. Because the sort of racism that makes it okay to shoot faceless Black Men also makes it okay to accost well known Black Men.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/opinion/coates-the-good-racist-people.html?_r=0

    As a fairly privileged middle class, middle aged white man, I am also embarrassed by my country.

  35. ohioyoyo Says:

    Thanks Ed, I plan to post this at work. Today I'd said "I'm sick of it being open season on blacks" and was assailed with: "I couldn't get away with that shit!" Well…
    @Arjun-Not to pile on; I, too wish the "legal system" were the final judgement we should all accept, but as many posters point out, the DA frames the question, They weren't asked if he over reacted or should have driven off.
    @ Skipper_Thank you! I've said for years (decades, actually) "two jobs which if someone wants it they should be automatically disqualified: cops and presidents"
    white male 1954-present

  36. Mo Says:

    I needed this

  37. Xynzee Says:

    Some of the above comments made me think about this.

    In regards to DAs/Prosecutors and cops. As they're both semi-aligned wings of the criminal "justice" system isn't there automatically a conflict of interest? What I mean is that the role of the police is to gather the evidence, and the Prosecutor's role is to present the case. Effectively I'm not seeing much incentive for the DA—nor the cops—to go all in when a cop has his cock on the block.

  38. NickT Says:

    @arjun

    Congratulations. You've won our Buffoon of the Week award. Just give us your telephone number and bank account details and we'll ship it to you right away. It's a beautiful image of a man with his head up his ass and it will no doubt enhance your mantelpiece for many years to come.

  39. skwerlhugger Says:

    @Halcyon: "Swear to god, I couldn't make this up if I tried." Oh, sure you could. Look how easy it was for him!

  40. Skepticalist Says:

    Yesterday a cop stopped across the street from my house while I was at the corner waiting for the bus. It only made me wonder what was going on rather than investigate. This is the way old white Swedes are allowed to think about such things.

    Later it occurred to me that half of my fellow passengers wouldn't investigate either but for entirely other reasons.

    So far I haven't found many people that think of the Ferguson event as a bad thing. It ain't pretty.

  41. Robert Says:

    Skepticalist, the theme seems to be 'how can you say the system doesn't work? It works for ME.'

  42. Xulon Says:

    At work, the same voice that said "he was not an unarmed teen, he was threatening the cop with his adult thug body." is now saying "Well, THAT BOY was where he shouldn't have been."

    Lynching is Heritage, not hatred.

    Sadly, it took the election of Barack Obama for the south to finally win the Civil War.

    Sorry, too disappointed for anything but verbal flailing around.

  43. 12StepstoNowhere Says:

    @Xynzee you're exactly right. The prosecutor relies on and needs a good relationship with cops so of course he's not going to indict.

    I strongly disagree that the GJ had "all the evidence" when Wilson's gun was never fingerprinted, there were no crime scene photos, and no notes taken by the first responding officer at the scene after Wilson.

  44. itsbosh.com WHY JURIES ARE TERRIBLE Says:

    And this is why we cannot justify the use of everyday people for rendering 'justice' or even, apparently, to consider rendering justice.

  45. Tom Says:

    https://www.facebook.com/deborrah.cooper/posts/10205509703244789

  46. bjk Says:

    The great thing about the "white privilege/supremacy/invisible knapsack/etc explanation is that it puts whites at the center again. Right where white people want to be! This time it'll be just like the 60s, except white people will be leading the parades. That's what TNC and Bouie are so popular among whites, because they make whites feel all warm inside: it's about meeeee, it's really all about ME!!!!!!!

  47. julie Says:

    Thanks for being one of the only safe comment sections on the internet! It's nice to have a reminder that everyone isn't an ignorant asshole … just most everyone :(