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This title is not hyperbole. There is also no sarcasm here.
Well, let me rephrase that. For rational, clear-thinking, and thoughtful people, the sentiment expressed in the title is not true.
This is also not true for Americans — Black, White, whoever — who’ve learned not to believe everything — or, in some cases, anything — the police say in regards to any type of interaction with a Black person. Specifically, any type of interaction with Black males between the ages of two and 102.
This may not even be true for people who believed it was true until this week, when the images and stories reported from Ferguson finally made them get it.
It’s definitely not true for the multiple eyewitnesses who saw exactly what happened.
But, once you move away from these people, you’ll find that there is a segment of the population — an uncomfortably large segment — who believe Michael Brown was a supercriminal who deserved to die. They have no doubt that Brown — who had no prior criminal record — decided one day to violently rob a convenience store, wrestle with a cop, attempt to take that cop’s gun, and attempt to shoot and kill the cop. For them, there’s no doubt about any of this. And since there’s no doubt about any of this, he deserved to die.
When you think about things this way, it makes sense that Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson would hold a news conference in front of a burned down convenience store, a not-so-subtle reminder to all the true believers of what Negro Supercriminals like Michael Brown are capable of.
Of course he’d mention that Negro Supercriminal Michael Brown was a robbery suspect. Because Negro Supercriminals are all guilty of all crimes. And when you’re guilty of all crimes — and you happen to be a Negro Supercriminal — you deserve to die.
Of course he’d use the word “robbery” in place of what might have been a case of a shoplifting. Because, when Negro Supercriminals are involved, shopliftings become robberies.
Of course he’d wait six days to release the name of the police officer who killed Negro Supercriminal Michael Brown. Because, the safety of the police is more important than that of Michael Brown and the community of potential Negro Supercriminals he came from. Because, of course, the Negro Supercriminals would have done some supercriminal shit if they learned the name earlier in the week.
And of course, the Super Criminality of Micheal Brown is easy to accept once you believe that all Michael Browns — all Black men and women — are potential Negro Supercriminals.
Which is what all of this is about. The militarization of the police, the (non)freedom of the press, the hundreds of thousands of comments on news stories and Facebook pages from our neighbors, co-workers, and “friends” (It’s time to stop looking at “internet people” as “internet people.” Those people leaving racist, trollish comments everywhere are real actual people you work with, live next to, and might even be “friends” with in real life). It’s all about that belief an uncomfortably large segment of the population holds, that all Michael Browns — all Black men and women, including those reading this right now — are potential Negro Supercriminals who need to be stopped.
One thing is true. There is nothing we — the potential Negro Supercriminals — can do about that. We can pull up our pants, pull off our hoodies, put on a smile, and put into the idea of America. We can graduate, vote, pay taxes, get married, raise our children, and tend our lawns. We can, have been, and will continue to do all of those things. But it’s not about us and what we can or need to do differently. Respectability politics have been, and will always be, a fucking fraud. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in a suit.
It’s on them to reach out, to change their minds, to educate themselves, to listen, to be curious, to expand their horizons, to overcome their fears, to join us. Because between working jobs and raising children and making friends and going to school and ordering pizza on the weekend and just being human, being a mythical supercriminal can be exhausting.