I am quite certain that the family of Walter Scott, the African-American man who was shot in the back while fleeing from former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager, realized that the struggle to get some level of ‘justice’ through the American criminal justice system would be nearly impossible. They not only engaged this system that has historically proven to be non-responsive to the needs and issues of Black America, especially where it involves white law enforcement officers, but also have emerged with their pride and dignity in the face of what can only be considered an unconscionable defeat.
After nearly a full week of deliberating this matter, the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. Making the jury’s failure incredulous is that the April 4th, 2015, murder was captured on video; leaving no doubt that Michael Slager needlessly fired several bullets into Walter Scott as he attempted to flee.
Sadly, I do not think that any American, regardless of their racial or ethnic identity is shocked that a jury with eleven whites failed to return with a guilty verdict. I am quite confident that the verdict was less of a shock to whites than their African-American counterparts. I assert this for one simple reason; there is no doubt that whites know their people at a level that African-Americans will never come close to understanding, after all, we are not present to hear the real contents of their hearts when they are speaking behind closed doors.
If African-Americans would only take a moment to reflect upon the frequently closed door conversations that we have regarding American racial matters, it would make sense that whites have similar conversations. Dare I say that these conversations regarding race issues occur far more frequently among that community than they do among an African-American populace that often dismissively sums up their view of their racial opponents with short quips such as “that’s white folk for you.”
To be honest, one of my greatest frustrations regarding ‘good white folk’ is that they frequently display an extraordinary patience with the worst elements of their populace for the sake of decorum and respectability. It is this tendency to “stay above board” and not get into the gutter with a vocal minority that provides African-Americans with the evidence needed to characterize white folks as monolithic on Race matters. Anger and disappointment frequently prevent African-Americans from differentiating ‘good white folk’ from those other segments of their community.
Although it may be difficult for you to believe, I do not think that all white folk is involved in either a conspiracy or a hunt to hurt, harm, and malign African-Americans. Life has taught me that there is significant diversity to be found among the white community in regards to racial matters; I know of a white colleague who has displayed the courage to publicly state that the source of racism is the white community.
It is that courage ‘to speak truth to power’ that is often missing from the white community. In those moments when a vocal minority is expressing disagreeable views and concepts into public spaces, they remain silent and thereby open themselves up to being guilty by association.
I hope that you agree that it is time for ‘good white folk’ to be as public and forthright in their denouncement of prejudice and discrimination as their misguided brethren are committed to doing the opposite.
Good white folk needs to heed the advice of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass who advised his fellow countrymen “For it’s not light that is needed, but fire; it’s not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind and the earthquake in our hearts.”
Roll, Thunder, Roll.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016