– Jean Baudrillard, “The Spirit of Terrorism”
If Baudrillard is right, then when it comes to Black Americans being killed by police, can police forces across America be considered terrorist organizations?
What is the political use of the 400-years-long intimidation of Black people?
If the answer to the above question is power, could all this family blood be about money?
So what do we do about it?
Isn’t America a nation built on theft and murder?
My brother died from a bullet wound a week after his 18th birthday, in October 1977. We don’t know which police officer pulled the trigger on the gun that fired that bullet into my brother’s body, taking his life. How many Black people have died at the hands of police since he took his last breath? Who is counting? Who will care enough to count? Who has time for this grief? Who can handle it?
What if we really made amends for the crimes committed?
Aren’t we already paying for it?
What if we stopped punishing the punished and rewarding the rewarded?
What if we stopped idolizing wealth?
If the fleecing of the poor is an ancient international practice, what if we became the leaders we claim to be and stopped it?
Are there solutions inside the system or do we need to build a new system?
What does a new system look like?
What does a new narrative look like?
“Let the dream persist.” – Aditi Machado
What kind of brother could I have had, me and all my sisters? What wouldn’t we have needed? What kind of mother would I have had, without that grief? Every time police kill a Black person, my brother dies again. Again, how many have been killed since 1977? Is anyone counting?
I worry about my mother. She’s almost 80 and at this time of year, she has a habit of grieving. I worry that these public killings make it worse; she’s at an age where the body’s capacity for healing has slowed. Is grief meant to be a slow bullet, killing whoever’s left?
If a person or small group builds a community with their own resources, is that a threat?
Who is threatened and why?
“Terrorism, like viruses, is everywhere. There is a global perfusion of terrorism, which accompanies any system of domination as though it were its shadow, ready to activate itself anywhere, like a double agent.” – Baudrillard, “The Spirit of Terrorism,” p. 10
I generally love action movies, but lately, I’m having a hard time with death. I don’t like to think about it in real life. I haven’t watched the news since Trayvon Martin’s killer went free. I used to like certain Westerns, but somehow I think they’ve helped romanticize vigilantism and gunfights. I’m having a hard time with movie posters in which handsome movie stars point a gun at the viewer (me) or the air or even a villain. I don’t know everything, but it’s hard not to see the weight of cultural influence. I refuse to let my son play Call of Duty.
What kind of time are we living in? What kind of cultural inheritance are we shaping? What if our fictional heroes didn’t have guns?
What if our historical heroes didn’t have guns?
What if the glorification of hustle and wars (Civil War / Spanish-American War / WWI / WWII / Korean War / Vietnam War / Gulf War / drug war / war on terror / war on poverty ha) turned into glorification of intelligence and innovation?
What if we actually smashed our problematic idols?
What if we examined the
What if we examined the Puritan roots of capitalism?
What if we eschewed the violence of our institutions in favor of something yet to be invented?
What if naïveté wasn’t despised but allowed to develop into a wisdom that became respected?
I remember visiting my hometown when I was 19, close to the age my brother was when he was killed. My sisters and I wanted to visit his grave. I remember saying, “We have to visit him.” I remember my mother’s terrifying rage when she said: “You can’t visit him, he’s dead. He’s nothing but dust.” She slammed the door when she left the house; we didn’t see her again until evening, and she was so quiet. What resides in my mother’s quiet? Is it rising with the voices in Ferguson, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Charlotte?
What if Black people already live with fear by force and still choose to live without it?
What would happen if we stopped police violence right now, no more debating?
What if we called it state-sanctioned murder and decided we had the power to change it?
What would we change it to?
Is America really really a nation of rebels?
Is finding the solution to police violence an extreme introvert sport?
Do you think a team of introverts could come up with tools involving the least amount of conflict possible?
Does the technology exist to disarm someone or de-escalate a situation without taking anyone’s life?
Can we aggressively purge racists from the police force?
Where would they go and what would they do?
Would they change their minds?
What would change it for them that didn’t involve more death?
When he was 8, my son took mixed martial arts and they had an after-school pickup service. One day I forgot his afternoon snack and brought it to the school as the director, an older white man who liked to brag about his doctorate in religious studies, was pulling the van up to the school. I gave my son his food and hugged him and went back to work. On the way home from the dojo that evening, my son said the doctor told him something after I left, and my son didn’t know what it meant. He told my son: I don’t know why your mother cares about you so much.
What is the name of the violence they have learned?
What kind of love have they learned?
Why is it so terrifying when we love ourselves?
My son is in no hurry to learn to drive because he doesn’t want to be shot in the street. What is your son afraid of? Monsters? The dark?