On the Rights of a Black Man

I was struck by a comment from today’s coverage of the shooting death of an unarmed black man. To be clear, this was coverage of the death of an unarmed black man – whose name has not yet been released – in San Diego; not the recent shooting of Keith Scott in Charolette, or of Terence T. Crutcher in Tulsa.

In San Diego, a woman called 911 to get help for her mentally ill brother. Details are contested, but police shot and killed the man they’d been called to help.

In an interview this morning, a woman protesting the murder said: “Because he was black he automatically had no rights.”

That was a profound statement.

Because he was black, he automatically had no rights.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with that statement, the mere perception of that reality should be disturbing. And, incidentally, if you don’t agree with that statement, it is worth noting that it is factually indisputable that many, many unarmed black men have been killed by police under questionable circumstances.

We are a country that prides itself on individual rights, inalienable rights. Rights that can never, ever, be taken away from us.

Unless you are black.

Because he was black, he automatically had no rights.


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