Racism in America is Not Dead: The Case of Renisha McBride

Why Renisha McBride gives insight into a racial double standard

Renisha McBrideI am very saddened by the loss of Renisha McBride, a 19 year old black woman who was shot dead in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Before I speculate on the motivation of the shooting, I must state that the identity of the shooter has not been revealed. Therefore I cannot say for sure whether this was a racially motivated shooting. I do want to comment on the nature of her death, and why racism is still strong in many parts of America.

The circumstances of McBride’s case are as such; she was involved in a car accident around 1-2 am and was apparently looking for someone to help her. Her phone battery had died, so she knocked on a door in the neighborhood. McBride was subsequently shot in the face near the mouth.

Now, it is not clear yet if the shooter killed Renisha McBride for racial reasons. We don’t even know if the shooter is white or black. However, Dearborn Heights has a 86% white population and only an 8% black population. We can’t say for sure, but the odds are high that the shooter was white.

What this case speaks to is the attitude that white Americans have toward their black neighbors. Going back centuries, we have seen case after case of how different black people are treated in America. Yes much has improved since the days of Jim Crowe. However, racism and racist sentiments towards black people have not disappeared despite the belief that somehow we have reached an age of racial harmony.

The case of Trayvon Martin earlier this year gives us another high-profile example into just how differently “justice” for blacks is compared to whites. Studies have shown that whites commit just as much (if not more) crimes as blacks, yet it is black who have higher arrest and incarceration records.

In New York, Stop and Frisk is a highly debated topic. Stop and Frisk policies take place in other cities in America as well, but theyracism almost all target blacks and Hispanics. Whites are almost never the target of stop and frisk laws, even though they commit their fair share of drug and violent crimes.

Most of the mass shooters we’ve had were white men, but how many white men are stopped, interrogated and roughed up by police? The potential for the next mass shooter to come from the white community is high, but how many are stopped and frisked? Almost none.

Citizens and police alike treat minorities different in many circumstances. Of course things are better now than under segregation, but racism is not dead. Far from it. I’ve seen it before. I’ve been stopped by a police officer who never once talked to me in any disrespectful tone. Two white officers, once they scanned my State ID they referred to me as “Mr. Drury” (even though the policemen were older than me) told me to have a nice day and that they apologized for the inconvenience.

On the the other hand, I’ve see police officers (not the same who questioned me necessarily) stop black men and women on the street and tact quite differently. There is already an assumed guilt when it comes to blacks from police, while with me it’s always a presumed innocence. The police will refer to them as “fella” mostly. No sir, no respect, nothing but assumed guilt on so many levels that it disturbs me greatly.

We don’t know all of the facts, and yes I could very well be wrong of my analysis when more facts of the case are revealed. I understand the sensitivities that many have when discussing this issue. These are trends I see too much and it bothers me. There are many facts that could be revealed within the next few days, so I can’t say for sure it was a racial motive to shoot. So far the unidentified shooter first claimed he mistook Ms. McBride for an intruder (all intruders ring the door bell), now he is saying the gun accidentally discharged.

It seems very odd that this 19 year old woman was killed the way she was. I’ve had weird people knock at the door late at night. I’ve never killed any of them (white or black) over it. I could be wrong with McBride’s case, but I still think a general attitude adjustment toward minorities from white Americans is in order .

Renisha McBride’s case highlights an aspect of this racism, as did the Trayvon Martin case. It saddens me that to this day many people in the white community (and even some black people) treat their black neighbors the way they do. The disgusting attitudes we saw against Trayvon Martin are slowing manifesting against Renisha McBride. I’ve already read comments on the web which I will not post here, but the words were awful and empty of any empathy for McBride’s tragic death. Racism is not dead in America.

 

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Julian Drury

Column Writer
Student, Writer, resident of New Orleans, and Staunch Progressive. Helping to advance progressive causes, one post at a time.

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