Sunday, July 26, 2015


Watching the constantly replayed video of Sandra Bland's arrest, I was struck by the way the trooper asked to see her driver's license: not "May I see your license?" but "Do you have a driver's license?"  Seems to me there's a (probably unconscious) racist implication here.  The assumption behind this way of making a fairly ordinary request is that, as a black woman driving a car, she may not have one.  Would he ask the same of a white woman driving a car?  This unmindful use of language, it seems to me, is symptomatic of the powerful undercurrent of unconscious racism that manifests is so many of the relations between black and white in our society.

And about last week's multiple shooting incident that left two movie-goers dead last week, and others in the hospital: the question I heard repeatedly in the media was, "Why?"  What was the man's motive in suddenly venting his rage on innocent fellow-citizens?  It's the same question that gets asked after each of these deplorable and all-too frequent incidents in our public life.  As though understanding the motives of an obviously deranged individual could prevent such incidents in the future.  The real question is "How was this person (are these people) able to wreak such havoc?"  That a man with a long history of violence and psychiatric problems should be able to arm himself with lethal weaponry is indicative of the absence of sane regulations to prevent him, and others like him, from the ability to commit such acts of senseless and eventually inexplicable violence.  

No comments: