On October 24, the remains of Hannah Graham were positively identified. Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Virginia, vanished on September 13, 2014. A few weeks into the investigation of her disappearance, police suspected Jesse L. Matthew, Jr., 32, of involvement. Matthew initially fled, having been found in Texas weeks after Graham was reported missing. He was the last person to be seen with Graham, and was charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham shortly after his capture.
Graham’s remains were found about six miles away from the place where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009, who police now also suspect was also killed by Matthew.
Like many social media sites, Facebook exploded with the news of the arrest, and provided a platform for people to weigh in on the case. It was there that I first saw the comments linking Matthews to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed Black man shot by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th.
“Yeah, they are all “gentle giants” until they kidnap and kill a stranger or rob a convenience store and attack a policeman. Then they are not so “gentle” anymore”, wrote one commenter.
“You don’t see white people rioting in the streets because a Black guy killed white women, do you? Because we are not barbaric,” wrote another.
News broke today that Darren Wilson, the policeman who shot Brown, is unlikely to face civil rights charges for the killing, because there apparently is not enough evidence to prove that Wilson intended to violate Brown’s constitutional rights.
So we are locked in a cycle of be killed, don’t expect justice and don’t complain about it.
As recently as April 2014, the United States advocated for additional reparations to match the more than 3 billion dollars already paid to Jews and Jewish organizations after World War II. For example, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act has been formed to keep companies such as SNCF, who transported Jews to concentration camps during WWII, from profiting in the U.S. market. Black people, however, cannot be indulged in our cries of inequality on educational, political and socio-economic, levels, despite clear evidence that such inequality exists. According to the 2009 census, Black men made 65 cents for every dollar a white man makes, which is a gap similar to the one that existed 50 years ago. Especially after the election of President Barack Obama, the overwhelming sentiment to Black folk is that racism is dead.
In a country known for it’s Human Rights advocacy, Black folk can’t even complain about being shot in the street. The dominant class sees any protestation as hypercritical, as gratuitous and as an annoyance.
I know that in the comments section of any news story it is commonplace to sensationalize thoughts and feelings, however, I can’t help but see in cases like Michael Brown and Hannah Graham, that race will ALWAYS be a factor; an apples to oranges comparison made by people who cannot understand the history and legitimacy of my oppression. So though we will advocate for a country, for people thousands of miles away from us, in our own country, with our own citizens, no one is interested in equal justice for all. Despite the tragedy of the loss of a young white girl, where a black man is hunted across multiple states to ensure justice is served, a unarmed black boy, fleeing from the police with his hands up will never get the same consideration. His assailant will never be brought to justice. And according to some of the comments on social media, we are supposed to be okay with that.