“You might as well answer the door, my child,
the truth is furiously knocking.”
And so, here we are again. Another Black life lost. Say his name: Daunte Wright. Say his age: 20. Say the crime for which he was killed by a police officer: His license plate had expired.
But hold your sorrow and outrage: We hear he was shot by mistake.
Let me review a very partial list of mistakes that have proven fatal to Black folks and other people of color in recent times:
Buying a pack of cigarettes.
Driving with an expired license plate.
Not signaling a lane change.
Fleeing out of fear.
Sleeping in your bed in a locked apartment.
Just asking a simple question to an armed officer of the law for god’s sake.
Well, make no mistake, ultimately there is no mistake about why Daunte Wright died Sunday, just as there is no mistaking or escaping the brutal consequences of the racism and white supremacy fostered systemically over 400 years of US history.
The toll of racist violence is delivered not just at the hands of the police force but in myriad fashion in our streets and through our institutions and systems. It is exacted daily on the wrongfully convicted, through mass incarceration, educational malpractice, medical and nutritional abdication, against the spiritual protectors of our lands, and the Black, Brown and Asian farmers who have tilled our soil and delivered our food and yet have not benefited fairly from their labors.
Each of us must ask ourselves what we will do to affirmatively oppose and end racism and the related forms of fear-based oppression rooted in the denial of our common humanity. There can be no victories worth winning for humanity unless and until the historical and current reality of racism is acknowledged and meaningfully redressed. Institutions like Antioch College can stand ready to educate new leaders and fighters for justice, but they cannot stand in for the moral and collective action each of us must resolve to take.
To stand in solidarity with Daunte Wright, his family, friends and the incalculable victims of racism, it is necessary to answer the furious knock on our nation’s door. It is necessary to do something, to say something, to act for justice.
I admire you for your commitment to doing this important work together.