On the shooting death of Renisha McBride

There’s something inherently wrong with a social and political system that allows people to shoot someone they believe is a threat to them and go on about their business.

That system was on full display last weekend when Renisha McBride approached a home in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, to get help after she was involved in an accident.

She ran to a home, and banged on the homeowner’s door because her cell phone had died. That homeowner, apparently, already made up his mind and determined McBride to be a threat, and subsequently shot the woman in the face. The Detroit Free Press notes McBride’s accident occurred about 1:40 a.m. Saturday Nov. 2 and she was fatally shot just two hours later.

Police initially thought McBride was shot someplace else, and her body was dumped in the Detroit suburb. However, they later determined she was shot at the homeowner’s front door.

The man, who also had his .12 gauge shotgun taken away for analysis after the shooting, has said his shotgun was “accidentally discharged” and that he feared for his life. The man, who told police he thought McBride was trying to burglarize his homehas not been detained and no criminal charges have been filed.

Prosecutors are, however, reviewing the Dearborn Heights Police Department’s investigation to decide on whether they’ll pursue charges against the man, described as a white male in his 50s.

Thinking about this case conjures up all kinds of emotions: anger, disappointment, weariness, depression, etc. Here we have yet another black person that’s been shot and killed for something that isn’t even worth taking a person’s life over. Here we have yet another black family who will have to bury a loved one because people routinely buy into whiteness’s assessment that we are disposable; that our lives are invaluable; that our mere existence is threatening to white folks.

Black life, specifically black female life, is degraded, so much so that white people can shoot first, hide behind the mantle of self-defense later and have very few people think twice about their actions. Black victims and our actions are then dissected in an effort to determine what we did exactly to threaten the safety and security of white folks. Our bodies and our lives are then criminalized and put on trial by whiteness, almost always in an attempt to sustain the belief that our mere existence is inherently threatening to white capitalist imperialist supremacist patriarchy (thank bell hooks for that phrase).

The labeling by whiteness of our existence as pathological and more prone to criminality gives white folks the green light to use violence to maintain order. Vigilantism is all well and good if it’s used to police and curtail the autonomy of black bodies.

Our humanity and our dignity is ripped from our psyche as we are routinely cast as The Other in the theatre of white capitalist supremacist imperialist patriarchy. We constantly have to deal with the very notion that every one of us can be assaulted, shot and/or killed when a white person feels his or her’s life is in danger. We are also well aware that a white person who attacks or shoots us in reaction to our inevitable drive to randomly commit acts of violence will most likely go on about his or her’s life without consequence.

But, I digress. Other than the activists who protesting in Detroit, not too many people are upset about Renisha McBride. Other than a few dedicated black women on Twitter and in the blogosphere, there has been no collective national outrage at her death. Black women and black women alone will most likely carry the burden of organizing around and seeking justice in Renisha McBride’s case; something we are all too familiar with when it comes to caring for and protecting our girl and women.