Another day, another black man murdered, another black man to mourn. This time, his name was Walter L. Scott. He was fifty years old and the father of four. He was shot in the back as he was running away. This time there is video of the murder though there has been video before and that has not been enough to bring about justice. I watched the video and felt so empty. I felt scared for every black person everywhere. I felt like I was seeing something I had no right to see but knew it was important to bear some kind of witness.
I am so tired of writing about this kind of murder, this kind of injustice. Words feel utterly useless. I recognize the luxury of such exhaustion.
This time the officer or, the murderer, I should say, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder. I guess we’re supposed to be… grateful or something because normally, when a police officer murders a black man or woman or child, there are no consequences of any significance.
I am not optimistic Michael Slager will be convicted of murder though he damn well should be. And what will that conviction change, really? This problem is virulent. It infects us all.
It’s such an exhausting cycle. Death, the desecration of the black body, grief and outrage, demands for justice, the bitter acceptance that for so many, justice is elusive, hollow justifications, defense funds for the murderer, public and private mourning from the family of the deceased, information about the deceased comes to life as if to suggest that perhaps that life doesn’t matter so much because it may not have been perfectly lived, the police officer is valorized, journalists seek out quotes from his friends and neighbors. He seemed like a normal guy. He was such a nice guy. Of course, of course. Because this is what normal, nice guys think of black people–nothing.
This is where someone will say “not all nice guys,” and “all lives matter,” because they don’t understand anything at all.
Eight shots were fired.
I saw a tweet from a woman who was worried about Slager’s dogs and hoped they were being taken care of. What the hell do we say to that? How does a concern like that enter someone’s consciousness when a man is dead at the hands of a a police officer?
In this video, as in the video for Tamir Rice and as in other cases, there seems to be no move to perform CPR. Black bodies lay dying while police officers stand around doing… nothing because they don’t believe those fading lives matter. They don’t believe what they’ve done should be undone.
I don’t know what to say but I cannot say nothing.
Roxane Gay is the editor of The Butter.