Today—almost a year after a man who took an oath to protect and serve sent a bullet into the skull of another human being at point-blank range who was absolutely no threat to anyone on earth—12 jurors, a judge and and the entire American justice system stood on the grave of Philando Castile, took an extended piss, wiped their bloody hands in the soil and said, “Fuck that guy.”
Please spare me the self-assured comments about how you knew what the verdict would be, or the narcissistic passive-aggressive question of “What did you think would happen?” If I were forced to wager my life’s savings on the verdict, I, too, would have bet that Jeronimo Yanez would never be convicted of Castile’s murder. But if you informed me on Monday that you planned to kick me in the gut on Friday, I could prepare myself for it all week, but that doesn’t mean it still wouldn’t hurt.
America is a bitch.
America has always been lovely from the outside, with her spacious skies and amber waves of grain. We see white people enjoying freedom, liberty and equality and wonder if America could ever love us like that. But America is a cruel mistress who cuddles up to us and murders black people in their sleep. She has never meant us any good. Only harm. Only pain. America is a liar. America is a murderer. America is a bitch.
Acquittal is different from a hung or deadlocked jury; it means Yanez is “not guilty.” It means that even if a black man complies with every letter of the law, it is still OK for a law-enforcement officer to kill him.
It means that even if a black man is legally carrying a gun but never pulls it out, he can still be killed for carrying a gun.
Which means—even though the Constitution guarantees every American the right—a black man cannot carry a gun.
Which means that a black man’s constitutional rights can be arbitrarily taken away from him.
Which means that a black man has no constitutional rights.
America is bullshit.
All of it. Every stripe on the flag is bullshit. Every star that spangles the banner is bullshit. Do not ever wonder why a second-string signal caller would “disrespect” it when it has never protected us.
It is impossible for justice to coexist with inequality. Justice is a constant—either it is or it isn’t. It is unflagging. The fact that it is applied to black lives arbitrarily and sparingly is proof that it doesn’t exist for us. We live under the delusion that there is something we can do to prevent our brains from being splattered onto a random sidewalk, but that is bullshit, too.
If you stand still, like Eric Garner, America will kill you.
If you drive away, like Sam Dubose, America will kill you.
If you walk away slowly, like Terence Crutcher, America will killl you.
If you run away, like Walter Scott, America will kill you.
If you fight back, like Trayvon Martin, America will kill you.
If you get on your hands and knees like Kenneth Walker, America will kill you.
And like Brendan Hester and Philando Castile, even if you comply with every word that you are told; even if you pose no threat; even if there is absolutely no reason for her to be afraid, America will pump bullets into a black body and never miss a minute of sleep in her comfortable bed at home, because America is an evil bitch.
Do not be mad at Yanez. He is a police officer, and we already know what they do. This is the fault of America. Yanez admitted that Castile didn’t pull out a gun. He conceded that Castile didn’t do anything dangerous. America is the one that let him go. Her laws. Her courts. Her criminal-justice system that fucks black men for half a joint but allows white killers their freedom, unmarred by their guilt.
Because America is bullshit.
The truth is, it’s all bullshit. Whatever you tell your son or daughter to do when the police stops him or her is bullshit. The idea that it means anything to “know your rights” is bullshit. It’s bullshit for anyone to suggest that a black man should ever trust a police officer in this country. It’s bullshit for anyone without white skin to ever believe that he or she enjoys the full and equal protection of the law. It’s bullshit to believe that America gives a fuck about you and won’t put a gun to your head and pull the trigger for no reason at all. And even though it is not a new revelation, it still hurts my gut.
I imagine that Philando Castile loved America. I bet that he thought she was fair. I bet he thought that telling a police officer that he was carrying a gun was the right thing to do, right up until the bullet entered his skull. In that instant, he probably wondered how this could be—how he could love something so much and do everything right by her, only to have her stand over him and watch the blood trickle down his cheek, the same way she had stolen the breath from countless black bodies before.
I bet America celebrated a little bit. I bet she even smiled as Philando Castile descended into the infinite darkness, still loving her, confused and wet with pieces of his own brain fluid.
Imagine getting fucked like that.