So, what’s Going Price for a Black Life These Days?

by Geechee Anne

Weeks after being gutted by the acquittal of that asshole that murdered Philando Castile, we found out that Castile’s family is being awarded a $3 million settlement. I’m happy for them. Really, I am. It won’t bring their loved one back, but at least it’s something, and God knows they deserve something. Yet, happy as I am when I hear of families receiving some sort of financial restitution, it is never enough, as a cash payout for a stolen life can never be enough. And after so many headlines like this, I have to ask why is it that all these cities, all these police departments would rather shell out cash by the millions instead of putting an end to the carnage?

This is happening across this country in cities large and small, but we’ll focus on just one. Back last year it was reported that the cash strapped city of Chicago had paid out over $662 million in a little over a decade for police misconduct. That’s over half a billion dollars. Yet, the city has only made token efforts to reform its police department, because apparently they’d rather just keep killing Black and Brown folks and paying off their families instead of making real changes to get real results. I don’t claim to have all the answers to end police misconduct towards minorities, but surely half a billion dollars, if pointed in the right direction, could effect some real change? But instead, Chicago, and other cities and towns like it, would rather keep the status quo than keep their money. It defies logic. But to do otherwise would be to defy racism.

The police department and the cities that support them are built on a foundation of white supremacy; racism is woven into the very fabric of American society. To start to pull at all the bad threads that make up that society could cause the entire cloth to unravel. Dismantling these systems — of which police misconduct is but a symptom — will take time, effort, and yes, money. More time, effort and money than our society is apparently will to expend just to save a few minority lives.

How many more lives will be snuffed out? Shootings by police are at an all time high, white supremacy retains its chokehold on American society, and the taxpaying populace seems almost perfectly content to shell out $3 million here, half a billion there for the loss of a life in state sponsored murder. In Chicago the total was $662 billion from 2004–2016. What will that figure look like in the next decade?

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