On Black Life, Police Violence, & White Supremacy
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and the less publicized transman Tony McDade at the hands of the state represents a long-standing, brutally racist tradition that is as American as the U.S. anthem itself. The “Star-Spangled Banner,” for instance, informed us that Black subordination was embedded in the nation’s founding, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” Indeed, two centuries after the anthem was penned, post Emancipation, post Reconstruction, post Jim Crow, post the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Civil Rights era, the Black Power Movement, and various Black feminist and Black queer movements, a nation that celebrates whiteness is still unable to imagine Black life and livability. Consequently, Black people are still facing “the gloom of the grave.” In this way, the justified anger and hurt displayed in the current protests are as much about George Floyd as they are about the countless names of Black people that are too numerous to fit in this short statement. More still, the protests are about the structural ways in which anti- Black racism and white supremacy persistently work to make Black life unlivable.
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