I was thinking about race even before the sean bell verdict came out, because of a variety of online arguments going on.
There was blogger Amanda Marcotte, who had caused a rift between white and black feminists online on at least two levels – in substance, as blogger BFP describes, and then in illustration choices. She apologized, at least for the second offense, but even from the outside that apology seemed very weak.
The other piece on race I read this week as about having a black name. This was interesting both as a peek into growing up in the pre-civil rights / civil rights era, and even more, having particular access to some of the often hidden prejudices of white people through something like a name.
Anyway, the Sean Bell verdict came out after I had already been thinking of these things. I’m surprised there isn’t more outrage… maybe we’ve become apathetic, expecting injustice. Maybe with Amadou Diallo it was only a year from shooting to verdict, while this case took a bit longer (though not that much, a year and a half, basically). Maybe it was because Diallo was decided in Albany and we had jerkoff Giuliani in office to rile everyone up, instead of Bloomberg ameliorating people with his sympathetic responses. Maybe it’s that Sean Bell & his friends weren’t as saintly characters as a recent West African immigrant reaching for his wallet…
If that’s the main reason it really is a sad day, as it basically implicitly gives police the right to kill guys we don’t like that much, and black kids who’ve been arrested a few times but who we don’t know a thing about in reality will all too often fit that profile. I’m sure plenty of rich white kids have committed as many offenses and managed never to get arrested just due to privilege (I personally know plenty of white people who’ve sold drugs, driven drunk, or otherwise fucked around more than they should have, and somehow have ended up with no record to show for it).
Finally, I don’t think the race issue has finished with regard to Obama. The interview with Rev Wright, by Bill Moyers, is interesting. I think Wright comes across very well, though apparently not everyone agrees. I wonder if Obama will have enough time to work this out, so to speak. It feels like he’s in the awkward stage between novelty crush and serious partner where people will have to start really assessing what he’s about, and they have to make this choice pretty soon.