One of my favorite corny jokes goes, “I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.” But in the case of Joshua Brown, the young man who testified in the Botham Jean/Amber Guyger murder trial only to end up dead two days later, I, like many other people, quickly speculated that someone on the Dallas police force, or dark forces connected to it, had a hand in the killing. Thank god I was wrong.
It’s now come out that the killing of Brown was merely a drug deal gone wrong. He was dealing weed by the pound and got into a beef with some out-of-town customers and when gunplay erupted he came up holding the shitty end of the stick.
Of course, some folks were quick to speculate that the police might have set this scenario up to cover their tracks, but the fact that Brown was dealing with three men (two of whom got away while the one that was wounded is in custody) dispels that idea. No one with any experience in these kinds of shady dealings is going to try to falsely place blame on three people — that would be stupid beyond belief. Nonetheless, there will always be a small group of people that will steadfastly believe the police were somehow involved in Brown’s death. But, alas, no one can stop stupid.
The sad part of all of this is the fact that I — along with so many others — was quick to speculate that the police were involved in Brown’s killings. That says a ton about community/police and black/white relations in this country. This living with constant suspicions, nagging doubts, and oftentimes unfounded speculations (as they were in this case) wears on the psyche of black folks. The drastic discrepancy is life expectancy between blacks and whites is in part rooted in diet, exercise and quality of medical care, but perhaps a larger role is played by old-fashioned stress _ we just don’t know what the white power structure and institutionalized racism is capable of and is willing to do to us given the opportunity.
With that said, American blacks are among the strongest peoples — the strongest survivors — on the face of the earth. Weak Africans didn’t survive the dreaded Middle Passage and only the strongest of my race were able to survive the brutality of being made into nothing more than beasts of burden, with the weaker being worked to death under the hot sun.
When whites owning blacks was about to be outlawed, serious efforts to ship us back to whence we came were engaged in (led by people like Abraham Lincoln who was rightly doubtful if whites would ever willingly accept us blacks as equal citizens), and when blacks for the most part refused to be sent back to Africa, a reign of terror was initiated. Nightriders wearing white sheets attempted to frighten us into submission, yet still we thrived, accomplished, and, in many instances, flourished.
However, no matter how high a black person has risen in society, no matter how accomplished or how much wealth they have accumulated we all have one thing in common: The fear and suspicion of the intentions of a white person when they approach with a badge and gun.
This, then, is the black man’s burden, and sadly, Botham Jean found that out the hard way.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc