As my little bio in at the end of this post notes, I am not into “respectability politics”—that is, giving a fuck about what white folks think about my choices, whether speaking “black English” (loudly, of course), giving my children black-ass names or tamping myself down in any way to fit into some vague notion of what a “good black” may be.
However, I have to admit that, like many of us, when I found out that the doctor who recently opened fire at a hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., killing one and injuring five, was black, I wasn’t thrilled. On a purely pragmatic level, we got enough problems. On another, I know it buys right into the American myth of black criminality and pathology—a story with real-life consequences.
No one cares that mental-health care in this country is woefully underresourced, and we have easy access to guns. No one cares that black pepole are traumatized on the daily, or gives black men in these situations the compassionate humanity afforded others. Now, if folks (police, judges, average homeowner who calls the cops) are scared of black doctors, what hope does a regular Jamal have?
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So when Dr. Henry Bello’s photo was shown as the gunman in the horrific attack, I, like many other black folks, shook my head and sighed deeply.
Here are the facts as we know them:
In February 2015, Bello resigned from Bronx Lebanon Hospital just before being fired for sending threatening emails to one of his colleagues.
He reportedly vowed revenge, and two years later he came to exact it.
On Friday afternoon, Bello returned to Bronx Lebanon and asked for the doctor who had been the recipient of his emails two years ago. The Daily Beast reports that he was told the doctor was not there, and he then opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle he’d smuggled in under his lab coat.
It gets worse:
Bello then took out a Gatorade bottle that he had filled with gasoline. He used it to set a fire before heading up to the 17th floor. He there encountered a female doctor. He shot her multiple times.
Bello then produced a second Gatorade bottle filled with gasoline, reportedly seeking to set either himself or his mortally wounded female colleague on fire. The fire managed to set off sprinkler systems, and more chaos ensued beyond the already charged scene.
When the cops entered the 17th floor, they found the female doctor dead from her wounds. And Bello had fatally shot himself.
Five of the six people Bello shot are in critical condition. Federal ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agents are tracing the assault rifle. And black folks are reeling from this tragic incident and the fact that a black man perpetrated it.
Even if we don’t care how it looks, we all know what it means. And as I said, we got enough problems.
Read more at the Daily Beast.