On Feb 21, Erica Jones reported for WRC TV in Washington, D.C. that, ” The family of an unarmed black motorcyclist who was shot and killed by a Washington, D.C., police officer in 2016 reached a $3.5 million settlement with D.C. government, the mayor’s office announced Wednesday. CNN reported later this spring that the deputy who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Houston March 22 had been fired.
Black lives matter.
On April 19, two Florida deputy sheriffs were shot and killed as they ate lunch, apparently because of the uniforms they were wearing. Their sheriff called them, “The best of the best.”
On March 7, the Associated Press reported, “ A man shot and killed a police officer and wounded two others who were checking on a disturbance at a (Clinton,)Missouri home…. Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, a 30-year-old who had served in the Army, was fatally shot while trying to apprehend the suspect. The other two officers were treated at a hospital.”
Blue lives matter.
And, sadly, the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and ambushed lawmen seem to be increasing at epidemic rates. Too many examples to keep updated.
On Feb. 23,The Houston Chronicle reported, ”Police in Amarillo shot an innocent man who helped foil a possible church shooting.” The shooting happened shortly after 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Faith City Mission. Police said a man barged into the church and held about 100 people hostage. Before officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled the intruder to the ground. A Hispanic man was able to grab the gun. Officers entered the building, saw Tony Garces holding the gun and opened fire. Garces survived and told ABC 7 Amarillo that he would do it all over again despite being shot by police.
Brown lives matter.
On March 7, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, reported “Crown prosecutors will not appeal the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer who was accused of fatally shooting a young Indigenous man in the head.
Red lives matter.
On March 7, The Huffington Post reported, “A Kansas man who fatally shot an Indian immigrant in a bar last year pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday. “Adam Purinton, a 52-year-old white man, allegedly yelled racial slurs and “Get out of my country” before he fatally shot engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounded his friend, Alok Madasani, during the Feb. 22, 2017, attack at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas.” He has since been sentenced to life in prison.
Desi lives matter.
In the January edition of The Oklahoma Observer – that feisty journal currently celebrating its fiftieth year of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable – Frank Silovsky of OKC wrote a letter to the editor that I hoped would spark a discussion. He mentioned that, “Growing up in Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s, we referred to the dominant races as Negro and White Persons. Persons who were a mixture of the two were referred to as Mulattoes; nothing demeaning or insulting intended.” The disappearance of “mulatto” from the conversation, Silovsky says, makes it possible to “miss an important part of their personhood.”
His case in point is former president Barack Obama. By pigeon-holing him as African-American or Black, we overlook “his mother’s remarkable family heritage dating back to our nation’s independence.” She qualifies for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution; her son, the Sons of American Revolution.
I think Silovsky overly optimistic to think that emphasizing Obama’s full heritage would have silenced the bigots. But, his point deserves examination.
During last fall’s edition of Finding Your Roots on PBS, Dr. Henry Louis Gates observed that, on average, African-Americans in the U.S. show a 24 percent DNA profile from Northern Europe. Recently, during a C-SPAN 2 interview, author Walter Moseley noted that he could be sitting at a table with a dozen of African-Americans and none of them would have the same skin tone. And, to that point, a cosmetic firm has recently rolled out 40 separate shades of makeup for the nonwhite American market.
The sordid truth behind the majority of these cases is that those noble Southern cavaliers were raping their slaves – and then subjecting their own sons and daughters to bondage. Over the past 40 years, historians have pretty much settled the debate that Thomas Jefferson’s did father six children with slave Sally Hemings. What is not as widely known is that she was likely the light-skinned, half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. Three of her children lived in white society.
One of the more moving segments of Finding Your Roots was the confirmation of the family legend for Ty Burrell – Modern Family’s endearing doofuss dad – that he had a slave grandmother back among the great-greats. Yes, it was true. The researchers even found written evidence from an observer at the time reporting how the slave owner was smitten with the particularly vivacious 13-year-old slave. Thus, Burrell was faced with claiming his descent from both the victim and the child-molesting rapist.
More recently, younger generations of Americans seem color-blind in seeking romantic partners, their children uniting different heritages – from celebrities to our families and neighbors. We’ve known for 30 years that everyone on Earth right now descends from one Mitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Our cousinhood is a scientific fact.
Two years ago, Live Science reported, “Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning….In an article published…in the journal Science, four scholars say racial categories are weak proxies for genetic diversity and need to be phased out.” Thus, racism is not only morally repugnant, but also the height of ignorance. But, in this country, even our oldest relationships are much younger. Our refusal to recognize this speaks poorly of our rationality, too much to irrational fears and subsequent hatreds.
Former White House Advisor on Bigotry Steve Bannon wandered around Europe this March encouraging like-mindless fools to embrace, proclaim, be proud of their racist ignorance. From celebrities to regular folks, most Americans are moving into an era of increasing color-blindness. Maybe that is behind the bigots’ fears. Their big lie claims to a bogus superiority, exposed as the nonsense it is, is being rejected by true Americans.
Let’s hope so.
Cousins lives matter, Cousins.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)