The phrase, seeing is believing is well known, but not true in many cases. People see plenty of things and despite all evidence (Who are you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?) they will twist what's plain and clear into a braided pretzel. Beyond seeing is believing, there's also common sense, where without seeing, basic facts are presented. But many times when black males are involved, common sense is either ignored or rationalized away, to the point of absurdity.
A black man is repeatedly beaten by cops while helpless and on the ground for several minutes, a beating that's videotaped. The video goes viral.
"He shouldn't have been resisting arrest."
A black man is strangled to death on camera.
"He talked back to the cops AND he shouldn't have been selling illegal cigarettes."
A black youth is shot in the back while handcuffed. The murder is videotaped.
"Well, he shouldn't have provoked the cop."
A black youth is killed while handcuffed from behind as he's sitting in the back of a police car.
"Somehow the police missed the weapon when they searched him and put him in handcuffs. Yes, he committed suicide while handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle. The left handed young man, while handcuffed behind his back, somehow managed to get the gun he'd hidden, and shot himself in the head using his right hand. Hey, it's totally possible to shoot yourself in the head with your non-dominate hand while handcuffed behind your back. Here, let me show you. See, how easy it is?"
A black youth is gunned down on the street. Shot in the back once, and then six more times while standing with his hands up in surrender. (This according to 3 eye-witnesses)
"He must have done something to deserve it. Cops just don't shoot citizens for no reason."
A black man is gunned down in Walmart while holding a toy gun.
"He must have smart-mouthed the police. Or maybe he pointed the weapon at them and they were forced to shoot."
A white kid walks down a street brandishing a loaded weapon, smart mouths the police, refuses to show ID, refuses to give up his weapon, then is allowed to leave WITH his weapon.
"He's just exercising his 2nd Amendment rights."
Armed to the teeth white men point weapons at Federal agents while defending a man who's unrepentantly stealing from the government.
"They're patriots exercising their 2nd Amendment rights."
In this day and age, where everybody and their mother has access to a video camera, seeing is not believing, especially when racial politics are involved.
But EXPERIENCING is.
Check out this HP piece titled, "HuffPost Reporter Ryan J. Reilly Calls Ferguson Arrest A 'Dehumanizing Process'"
Reilly explained that he was working in a nearby McDonald's along with another reporter, the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery, when SWAT entered the premises. Reilly was then ordered to exit. "They were giving us a countdown like we were 5-year-olds," he explained. When he didn't leave quickly enough, Reilly said, he was roughed up by an officer and subsequently arrested.
"You know you always see cops yelling, 'stop resisting, stop resisting,' and that's something that happened here -- but I wasn't resisting," Reilly said. "This is just something that these cops yelled no matter what you were doing. I let my arms go limp ... wasn't trying to resist anything."
"In a certain way I think I'm in a privileged position both as a reporter and, frankly, as a white male, that this is something that you don't really expect to happen to you," Reilly said.
"It's just such a dehumanizing process to be eliminated from all forms of communication, and thankfully I remembered some numbers in my head, so I was able to make some phone calls," Reilly continued.
Yes, sometimes seeing isn't believing, but experiencing is.
EDITED TO ADD THIS SALIENT GEM FROM Mia McKenzie in a post titled, Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By Police
4. The Murder Victim’s Past
I wish I didn’t have to tell some of you that victim-blaming when a Black person is murdered by police is a huge no. That it doesn’t matter if they were on the honor roll, or smoked weed sometimes, or were going to college, or what brand of hoodie they wore, or even if they spent time in jail at some point. That the right to walk down the street without being a target for murder by the police isn’t a right one should have to prove themselves worthy of. That we should all just have that right by virtue of being human beings.
When you’re Black, you don’t always get the benefit of being seen as a human being, though. Black people are seen as ‘up to no good’ by default. The truth is that our lives, like anyone else’s, are filled with good choices as well as mistakes, achievements we’re proud of as well as missed opportunities. Successes. Failures. Just like everyone else. But what’s also true is that we, as marginalized people, get fewer do-overs. The system is rigged to punish us at every possible opportunity. Longer prison sentences compared to whites who commit the same crimes and disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for even Black pre-schoolers attests to this.
If we were to talk about a victim’s past, we would have to talk about it in a context of oppression. But, you know what? We don’t need to talk about it at all. Because it is irrelevant to issue of their victimization. Just like bringing up a victim’s past to justify her rape is wrong, bringing up a victim’s past to justify his murder by police is also wrong. Yes, even when those people are Black.