Striking image from this new report from FRONTLINE’s Sarah Childress. Read it.
This is important information.
There’s all kinds of evidence of a vicious cycle:
Being black (and usually male) means you’re viewed with suspicion.
Being viewed with suspicion leads to being stopped and questioned — by police or by concerned citizens. (See the NYPD “stop and frisk” policies for an example.)
Some of those stops lead to confrontation, because one side is suspicious and the other is irritated by the needless suspicion.
Police — and sometimes concerned citizens — sometimes shoot the person they decided was suspicious. (I see at least one tumblr post a week recounting such an incident. Obviously, there are many more than that.)
In most cases, the shooters are deemed justified (!) for this behavior. (As the graph above demonstrates.)
One of the effects (I am of two minds whether to call it a “side effect”) of the suspicion —> questioning —> confrontation —> shooting —> justification cycle is that black people (especially men) are subtly pressured to hunker down, shut up and not make waves. I have no doubt that this translates into civic life as well, making blacks (especially men) less likely to believe that they are part of civic life and that they can and should contribute by voting, taking action in their local community and the wider community, and speaking out with words, actions, consumer choices, demonstration, etc.
All of us — but especially white people who notice the pattern of unfair behavior — are obligated to speak and act to fix this problem. Being “not a racist”, at this historic moment, requires being an anti-racist.