By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
At the end of the day, what people do not – and, I believe, have chosen not to – understand is that all Black people want is justice. If police officers were held accountable for their actions, if they would admit wrongdoing, if their system would absolutely forbid them from lying about shooting incidents and fire them from doing it, the violence this system decries so much would decrease dramatically.
But … they know that.
With the officers who shot Breonna Taylor escaping without being held accountable, the rage in the Black community rose – understandably – but it is not rage alone. It is rage compounded by grief and an ever-deepening pain from the wound caused by decisions by the so-called “justice system” which have allowed Black people to be wantonly killed by police with no worry about being held accountable.
Law enforcement officers play up their role as heroes of society, while continuing to practice state-sanctioned murder of Black people. Rather than protecting the Black community, studies show that they are more likely to harass and intimidate that community even as they do, in fact, protect White communities, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
There is a comradery between White officers and White offenders that is definitely non-existent between White officers and Black offenders. In the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, for example, the 17-year-old White youth who shot and killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the shooting of Jacob Blake, police saw him running through the streets with his assault weapon and did nothing; in fact, they appeared to be totally unmoved and unbothered and let him keep moving. It is fair to assume that had he been Black, the interaction with the officers would have been far different, and probably would have ended up in the young man being shot by police.
The disparate treatment afforded Rittenhouse speaks to the reason for the rage and pain that is a part of the Black community. Those two emotions increased when it was learned that this young man did not live in Kenosha, but instead in a suburb in Illinois and that his mother had driven him to the site of the protests, as noted in a Boston.com article. And to add insult to energy, Republicans were said to cheer Rittenhouse for his murderous rampage, Conservative groups began to raise money for his defense, and Fox News called him a “little boy who was trying to protect his community,” according to USA Today.
Whether White people want to admit it or not, Black people are human beings with feelings, and in human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, when a human being repeatedly experiences injustice, with no hope for justice, there grows within a gnawing pain which makes its way throughout one’s body until it comes out in some kind of way. The way out may be suicide, it may be violence against someone else, it may become manifest in physical ailments, including cancer, hypertension, diabetes or other systemic disease. However it comes out, the point is that it does come out. Black people in this country are forced to carry the knowledge of the regular systemic racism which causes destruction of individual lives, families, and communities, and are forced to swallow the pain. Any display of anger is sharply criticized by the system which is the source of the injustice and the resultant pain; an “angry Black man” or “angry Black woman” is disrespected and dismissed as being irrelevant.
But the burden of always having to carry that anger, rage, and pain, while trying to live a “normal” life gets too heavy to carry. It wears out the spiritual arms and capacity of Black people to carry it, and it has to be put down, like a heavy piece of luggage. Spiritual arms can carry a heavy burden for only so long before they must release the burden, put it down, and give those arms a rest.
The burden of craving justice is a heavy one. The fact that the system does not know that and/or does not care about it is a problem not just for Black people but for the things the White community does think are important – like property. If justice were practiced against rogue police officers, if those who use their race and their position to do whatever they want to Black people because they know they will never be held accountable would have to pay for the damage they do, the burden of Black people would be lightened.
It is a burden that a nation which calls itself “Christian” should have removed from the backs of Black people hundreds of years ago.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.