Why does America have an appetite for the death of black men?

By | August 12, 2017

On Aug. 9, 2014, Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. A young black boy was killed, made into a corpse for the threat he was perceived to be but never actually was. He was imagined to be a raging beast, and in America, the fear a black boy is imagined to be is in fact what he is. That terror led many in white America to blame Michael Brown for his own death. He was depicted as a criminal, a violent young teen — a super-predator.

In media accounts following Brown’s death, the justifications for Wilson’s use of lethal force ranged from Brown attacking Wilson (which resulted in a “broken eye-socket”) to a campaign aimed at painting Brown as a robbery suspect posthumously. Michael Brown was not the first and will certainly not be the last black male unjustly killed or murdered in the light of day in America. For all its promises of equality, democracy, and the rule of law, America has an appetite for the death of black men. The question, however, is why?

Historically, black males have been imagined as savage and animalistic in the minds of Europeans and American settlers. Despite the verifiable cruelty of American chattel slavery, it was a common belief that only the shackles surrounding the neck, wrists and feet of African men prevented them from slaughtering the white man, raping the white woman, and destroying the whole of white civilization. (PBS News Hour)

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