After being stopped by police, tragedy unfolded. Philando Castile, a public school employee from St. Paul, MN was pulled over for a broken tail light. His last moments alive were captured by fiancé, Diamond Reynolds as she streamed live to Facebook. Countless internet users watched helplessly. The images burned into their minds. Many were moved to tears as a collective group of horrified users all watched in shock. Now realize, who else was watching– His fiancé’s 4 year old daughter. The pain and trauma that this child and her mother experienced in those moments is inconceivable.
Castile, 32, was remembered as a beloved member of his community. He was remembered by his students and the families of his students as a kind man, who remembered everyone’s name and even more surprisingly, all of the student’s food allergies! He was remembered by his own family as a loving, hardworking, respectful man who loved St. Paul. But, St. Paul, as his Mother so poignantly pointed out, “killed him”. America, the land of the free, the land, which under the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, murdered a man during a routine traffic stop. Where did Philando go wrong? What did he do wrong? What could he have done differently? If you’re asking yourself these questions after reading up on the Philando Castile case, you are in denial about what type of America we are living in.
This is the same America that commonly performed public lynchings and as the artist, Lorenzo P. once said, “These police killings are the new public lynching”. Lynchings in America publicly demonstrated a racial hierarchy. They were intimidating displays of power juxtaposed with helplessness. Ask me today in 2017 how it feels when police get away with murder….
It feels like intimidating displays of power juxtaposed with helplessness. America is still killing us, only they’ve changed the formula.
Today, on June 21, 2017, authorities released video of Philando Castile’s fiancé, Diamond Reynolds and her daughter minutes after the shooting of Mr. Castile. In the heart wrenching video, Ms. Reynold’s, who was handcuffed at the time, (for what, I don’t know), can be seen being comforted while seated in the backseat of a cop car, by her four year old daughter. A very real, telling and heartbreaking conversation is caught between a Mom and her terrified daughter. In the video, her daughter can be heard comforting her Mom and telling her, “I can keep you safe”.
White privilege is a lot of things. But, maybe one of the most taken for granted aspects of white privilege is the innate feeling that you are not a target. That you are… safe.