Do Not Expect Black Folks To Cry Hard For Otto Warmbier
Once again in the US, I feel compelled to call out a cycle of abuse that seems to occur over and over again. One which involves white America expecting solidarity from black people in regards to white life and how it is valued over black life, clearly. It’s similar to how after Dylan Roof walked into a black church, murdered nine black people, got the police to buy him Burger King … the press then immediately asked the black community for forgiveness. Because black people have to forgive over and over and over again regardless of the cost to our bodies, lives and humanity. For the death of Otto Warmbier has caused a ripple in the much divided union. So much that Donald Trump himself issued a statement over his death, all while blithely ignoring the verdict of Philando Castile which was dropped on black folks less than a week previously. Because to exist as black in America is to know good and well that the law and the state is very much never on your side and your skin color can very often be a death sentence.
“But but but North Korea is a dictatorship”, you tell me. Sure is. And perhaps that means I will never visit. Because believe it or not I actually have enough problems of my own just existing in the good old United States. I live in a country where I know that breathing the wrong way could get me shot and killed. Reaching for your wallet to identify yourself to the police is literally a death sentence, as we saw last week. But only if you’re black like me you see. Because to be black and exist in the United States is to live in a constant state that one wrong move will end your life. Picking up a toy gun in a store. Carry Skittles and ice tea through your neighborhood at night. Playing music too loudly in your car. Calling the police after a break in. You can be murdered in front of your children. And your body may be left in the streets for hours upon hours, like rotting fruit fallen off a tree.
Did you know that seven countries have issued travel advisories to it’s citizens about the United States? Americans love to act precious about our own safety abroad while failing to realize people now think twice about whether or not to visit this country due to “ mass shootings, police violence, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes and the Zika virus”. Police violence. Something that 50% of white American’s don’t believe is a problem is actually a huge problem to the rest of the world. Imagine that. Every day when I discuss police reform some white person rushes into my Twitter mentions or Facebook conversation to blame black people for our own deaths or to thrust imaginary theories about black people and violence upon me. This simple act and the lies they tell feels like an additional act of violence. I feel as if I am being perpetually gaslit by white America constant moving of the goalpost all while the facts are being reported by legitimate news sites about what has happened to people who look like me. There’s a certain violence associated with being told lies about preventable deaths. It is exhausting and never ending to have someone tell you in a few short breaths that they don’t believe your life matters. But it happens to me. Every. Single. Day.
Cue the Otto Warmbier case. To which a white male went to a country known for human rights abuses and attempted to put his white privilege on display in a way which would ultimately end his life. While I feel sadness for his parents, I think it’s ridiculous that they’re blaming President Obama as if he forced their son to travel to North Korea and engage in activities which would land him in jail and eventually in a coma. I am opposed to all wars and I certainly wouldn’t go to war for one white victim of his own poor judgment. But that’s essentially what the Warmbier’s were asking of President Obama. Absolutely ridiculous. But what’s even more ridiculous is that I keep seeing outraged white people expecting people of color to be just as outraged. And we’re not. Because we can be murdered right here on these very shores. White America loves to throw stones when they live in a glass fortress. If you know you live in a country which murders it’s own citizens every day, you need to clean your own house before you go talking about dictatorships this and dictatorships that because people of color aren’t listening anymore. While white America routinely strips us of basic dignity, we’re also told we need to cry over someone who had all that privilege and still managed to mess it up. Not uh. GTFOH.