Kenton Gibbs | Staff Writer
Although the title may be inflammatory and lead one to believe that I’m unfairly criticizing or praising white women, neither is true. This instead is meant to be a criticism of American society and how often times, hundreds and even thousands of black lives being brutally taken doesn’t move the scale of America’s social conscious the way the death of white women does. Although many of us would believe this to be true based on common knowledge, there have been two recent incidents that work to drive the point home.
The first and most recent of the two would be the murder of Heather Heyer. Heyer was one of the counter protesters who utterly despised the white domestic terrorists and their hate speech. She was in the midst of the protest when a member of those terrorist groups, Derek Weimer, drove into the crowd, killing her as well as wounding several others. Before Heyer’s death, many members of the media, as well as private citizens, acted as if the terrorism committed by these white supremacist groups were small isolated incidents from fringe groups.
However, ever since her murder, white nationalism has been condemned by many including our wonderful president Donald J. Trump. But I could see where some would argue that there’s no example of the same thing happening to a person of color to compare this against.
That’s where the second incident comes in: The murder of Justine Damond. According to multiple reports, she called the police for help after she heard loud noises that she perceived to be a woman being raped. When the police arrived, they drove through the alley where she heard the noise with their lights and body cams turned off. Damond allegedly slapped the car to get the cops attention then went to the driver side door.
That’s when officer Mohamed Noor, a black muslim man, shot and killed her out of fear. These extrajudicial slayings aren’t new. But the response to hers was. Especially in comparison to the killing of Philando Castile, which occurred approximately 20 minutes away.
Damond’s case showed many black Americans, including myself, all types of firsts that we couldn’t imagine. For example, when Castile was shot, everything he’d ever done wrong in his past was used to tarnish his name and make it seem as if he deserved this despicable fate. But that seems to be the normal protocol whenever people of color are shot.
Yet in Damond’s case this was the first time I had seen the officers past deeply examined. Noor’s immigration status, religion, and political views have all been brought into question. On top of this, the officer being in fear for his life was no longer seemed to justify any horrific act committed by the officer.
Another thing that amazed me was the chief of police being forced to resign so quickly after. I had become accustomed to constantly being told these processes take time and all the facts need to be gathered. The only facts needed in Damond’s case was that a white woman was dead and that was enough for heads to roll.
I am not saying these things to say that their deaths should be brushed over like their black counterparts, but I am saying society should show such swift and intense reactions to the murders of people of color.
It is my sincerest hope that these women and their families get justice. But I need white America to have that same energy when a black woman is gunned or run down.