Black bodies aren't weapons

Black bodies aren't weapons

by digby

I wrote a piece today for Salon about this bizarre right wing rope that Michael Brown wasn't unarmed. Because he was big. And he was black.

An excerpt:
In [Wilson's] telling, Brown’s body itself was a lethal weapon (I was afraid another punch “could be fatal”) and impervious to pain. He was even able to “bulk up” as he was running straight into gunfire. He seemed to think Michael Brown had supernatural powers.

This tracks with some very ugly historical caricatures of young black males: 
(photo courtesy the Jim Crow Museum of racist memorabilia) 

Charles H. Smith (1893), writing in the 1890s, claimed, “A bad negro is the most horrible creature upon the earth, the most brutal and merciless”(p. 181). Clifton R. Breckinridge (1900), a contemporary of Smith’s, said of the black race, “when it produces a brute, he is the worst and most insatiate brute that exists in human form” (p. 174). George T. Winston (1901), another “Negrophobic” writer, claimed:

When a knock is heard at the door [a White woman] shudders with nameless horror. The black brute is lurking in the dark, a monstrous beast, crazed with lust. His ferocity is almost demoniacal. A mad bull or tiger could scarcely be more brutal. A whole community is frenzied with horror, with the blind and furious rage for vengeance.(pp. 108-109)

Back in 1901, a writer described a “black brute” as almost “demoniacal”. Over a hundred years later, Officer Darren Wilson told the Grand Jury,”the only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

Read on to see how the militarization of the police and stand your ground and a whole lot of other things have contributed in recent years to enabling these noxious stereotypes to continue.

Some things never change.