“Thank God It Wasn’t One Of Us” And Other Incorrect Thoughts

So, I hate violence.

This horrific tragedy in Virginia is America. They were innocent people. Completely innocent. As they flash the faces of the victims, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.

“Wow, this shit was completely random…These people didn’t have a chance…There lives are over in split second…God, their families have to wait to be notified…This is horrible…What would I do if I were confronted with a shooter?”

So many thoughts flashed through my head.

Do you remember Iraq? Those people are equally innocent. They have done nothing to the people who beat them, shoot them, bomb them, poison them with Depleted Uranium. Does your mind flash on them, do you identify them as “innocents,” as innocent as the engineering or German students at Virginia Tech?

As a black person, the question of identity is always turbulent. Who we are is contested, questioned. We live on a fault line and depending on current events, we are either monsters or marginalized/invisible. Many of us fear the identication of criminals responsible for high profile crimes – fear one of us will be fingered. Why? Because we KNOW that all of us receive an adverse sentence behind the actions of one of us.

I woke up this morning and saw the picture of a Korean man, the alleged shooter. Conflicted. “I thought it’d be a white student…but thank God it wasn’t a black man.”

But this man’s violence (if he indeed committed it) took place within the American pressure cooker, within a context of illegal, indiscriminate violence, organized violence. The media focuses on random violence, so-called “street crime” but ignores the far more prevalent legal violence of our government. How does state-sanctioned “invisible-subliminal” violence impact the mind, body and spirit of people, particularly young people?

State violence is global. State violence is not simply the use of arms, it is the maintenance of conditions of social and economic injustice that are violence incarnate. It is the proponderance of rape imagery, assault imagery, murder imagery that is violence.

The United States produces and manufactures violence. Globally. And that violence is visited upon – 99% of the time – INNOCENTS.

In Iraq and in this country.

12 Responses to ““Thank God It Wasn’t One Of Us” And Other Incorrect Thoughts”

  1. ” The United States produces and manufactures violence. Globally. And that violence is visited upon – 99% of the time – INNOCENTS.”

    mark bey: I agree with this statement 100%.

  2. Great post. I too had random thoughts about who the shooter was. One thing that bothers me about tragedies like this are some the comments I hear from the public.

    I heard many people comment on how they just can’t believe that this could happen in Blacksburg, VA; “we’re not used to things like this”

    I am sure they meant no harm, but sensless crime is all around us, it’s global. It’s In Iraq, it’s down the street. From the suburbs to the hoods across the country. It is a global social issue that some of our leaders refuse to ackwnowledge the connection. When will we learn from the lessons that life continues to throw at us?

  3. I was much relieved when it was I found out it was not a black person. I was relieved big time.

  4. Very good post. I think your point about the unmeasured impact of the “invisible-subliminal” violence was particularly potent. As Malcolm said, the chickens are coming home to roost. As for the fact that the alleged shooter wasn’t a black man, I confess I breathed a sigh of relief at first purely as a reflex action. It’s almost automatic. But then I had to stop and think, because if this is as far as we’ve come after all these years, still holding our breath praying that the latest disaster was not “our fault”, then God help us all.

  5. Oh, I meant to add one more thing on a positive note. wanted to thank you much for adding a link to my site, The “D” Spot. That means a lot coming from you.


  6. I did not want to be the one to first broach this subject. I don’t think I have built up enough goodwill to start that much controversy yet 🙂

    But that was the first thought in the minds of every Black person who was not personally involved in the Va. Tech tragedy. We all heard about it, and immediately thought to ourselves, “this could not possibly be a Black person”, then immediately after that, “please God don’t let this be a Black person!” My thoughts after that went to “please don’t let this be a person of Arab descent, or Islamic faith.” After the first couple hours of non-stop coverage, I knew it wasn’t a Black man because we hadn’t seen a picture yet.

    No white person will ever understand these thoughts, or understand why they shoot to the front of our minds. All these thoughts stem from the pernicious white supremacy dynamic that permeates every aspect of the human condition. They will say we are all too sensitive about race, I say they are not sensitive enough about white supremacy.

    “We live on a fault line and depending on current events, we are either monsters or marginalized”

    That may be the most insightful statement I’ve heard this month. It so accurately depicts our reality and how we are treated in the media. I’ll be using it often as the tremors and aftershocks keep coming.

  7. I’m with markbey on this one – at least the killer wasn’t black. It just was a terrible and atrocious event but what would have happened if he had been black? What it have turned racial?

  8. Keith, my pleasure for the linkage. We’re all in this AfroSpear together.

    Thanks a lot, Ex for the compliment.

  9. “After the first couple hours of non-stop coverage, I knew it wasn’t a Black man because we hadn’t seen a picture yet.”

    True! When I hadn’t seen the guy’s picture after a full 24 hours, I knew this wasn’t a Black man or else his pic would’ve been plastered all over the world.

    Honestly, and in spite of the sadness of it all, I felt a little bit guilty b/c I was thinking these same thoughts.

  10. “Thank God It Wasn’t One Of Us” You took the words right out of my damn mouth! LOL

  11. “I thought it’d be a white student…but thank God it wasn’t a black man.”

    I’ll be honest. That was my relief. And like a poster above, I was praying that it wasn’t an Arab/Muslim. I just don’t think the country could take it, because the Arab/Muslim has become the new ‘ us’.

    I also knew it wasn’t a Black person, because of the fact that the picture wasn’t shown ASAP.

    These are just FACTS, not illusions, but FACTS that the Black community deals with on a daily basis. And nothing from the rest of ‘society’ has changed that. Facts that the rest of ‘ society’ swears we ‘make up’, until we bring them the statistics that they swear so holy upon, to back up our points.

    While I feel for all of the 32 lost, I won’t lie – my heart breaks for both the Brotha and Sista who died. I think of Ryan Clarke’s mother – weeks from graduation, with his triple major and 4.0. I weep for us as a community, because a good Black man in training, someone positive, has been snuffed out. I can’t help but hear the cry of the collective soul of the community, as I do when I hear about the ‘ senseless’ slaughter of one of the community whose trying to be on a positive tip. My heart also aches for Ms. Peterson’s parents, for she is their only child. Their baby. I don’t have any children, but I can’t imagine the pain of having only one, and her promise is gone too.

    I read the profiles of all the victims, and the other one that stood out was the Professor who was a Holocaust survivor. I believe he was probably the ONLY ONE who knew what was going down because he knew what gun shots sounded like, and thus he sprang into action, using his body to hold back the door as long as possible, thus allowing his students the chance to jump out the window. His son said that he didn’t fear death – I guess not, if you’ve already survived what should have been your death.

    I do cry for all those parents. It’s like that middle ground, parenting-wise…before marriage and grandchildren, but you just began to let go of your child. All those dreams just gone. Many of the younger student teachers had small children…the agony will continue into the next generation.

    If you pray, in whatever religion, pray for all the fallen souls.

  12. How very true.

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