That said, is this part of a pattern?: Of all the relevant articles we've read since the day George Floyd was killed, the person we've probably thought of most is that 7-year-old boy who lives in California.
That 7-year-old is terrified; he wants to leave the country. We read about him in an essay written by his mother, an essay republished by Slate.
In part, we'd say that 7-year-old is terrified because his mother is very scared. As you may recall, her essay started like this:
MCDONALD (6/15/20): I was 14 when Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers. I had no thoughts of kids, or how a parent protects them. But in households around the country, Black parents were having “The Talk” with their children: an intense, high-stakes training on the realities of racism designed to inoculate them against disproportionate police targeting and brutality.That's how the essay began. Of all the work we've read since George Floyd died, we've probably thought of that scared little boy the most.
My oldest child is now 7. A few nights ago, I was the one giving The Talk. We discussed George Floyd’s death. Even with my high-level, simplistic explanation, he understood and was brought to tears. He thought at first that I was speaking of the past, and I could see the fear on his face when I explained that this wasn’t “back then.” He asked a lot of tough questions about hate and racism, and ended by telling me he wants to leave the United States. He was terrified.
Our question would be this:
Should that child be terrified? Also, should his mother be as scared as she seems to be?
Over here, within our own blue-voting tribe, that fear has almost become a sacrament by now. As Colbert King suggested last Saturday, guilt-stricken/algorithm driven mainstream journalists have perhaps been pushing that fear along hard.
Is it possible that this fear, and this terror, are perhaps being felt too deeply? Is it possible that many people are misassessing the likelihood that they, or one of their children, will be shot and killed by police?
Is it possible that six years of journalism—we're dating this to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—have created a world in which people are making a misassessment? This is a question that's heavily fraught, but if you consider the interests of a 7-year-old who's terrified, we'll suggest that you should consider giving that question a bit of your time.
We thought of that 7-year-old early this morning when we read an essay from the Outlook section of yesterday's Washington Post. The essay was written by a very good, very decent person who is curretly working long shifts as a doctor trying to save people who are sick with the coronavirus.
In our assessment, the likelihood is zero that this young doctor is trying to mislead anyone. Still, we thought of that terrified 7-year-old when we read the passage posted below.
The writer is an especially good, decent person, but we're not sure that the highlighted passage should have appeared in this form:
HOLMES (7/12/20): No single incident compelled me to wear scrubs everywhere. However, one night in the spring of 2019 after a long day at the hospital stands out...On my way home, around 2 a.m., I found myself behind a black car with tinted windows traveling less than 10 mph on a deserted two-way street. After this continued for a couple of blocks, I decided to pass the car. As soon as I did, blue lights came on, and I pulled over. The car pulled alongside me. Both passenger windows rolled down.We'll strongly suggest that you read the whole thing. The writer's story continues from there.
I immediately thought of Stephon Clark, who had been shot one year earlier in his grandmother’s backyard.
We assume that the writer's story is completely accurate. That includes his account of what he immediately thought when he was pulled over, for no apparent reason, by New York City police that night.
We're sure that is what the writer "immediately thought." We aren't sure that the Washington Post should have published that truncated account of Stephon Clark's death.
From that account, a reader might think that Clark was sitting in his grandmother's yard when Sacramento police appeared on the scene and shot him for no reason. A reader might get that impression because that account omits the basic facts which surround that unfortunate death.
We don't believe that the writer of this essay was trying to mislead anyone at all. But this "elimination of surrounding detail in the case of police shooting death" has become a whole new literary form in the past six years—a literary form which may be leading many people to misassess the likelihood that they will be shot and killed by police officers for no earthly reason.
The essay was written by Arturo Holmes Jr. He sounds like the kind of person others should get to admire.
But when we read that truncated account of that shooting death, we thought of that terrified little boy, and we thought of his mother, who seems to be very scared.
Misassessments of danger are common. In the years since Trayvon Martin's death, has this new literary form terrified 7-year-old children so much that they want to leave the country?
We plan to explore this topic further. It's an extremely painful topic, that's true. But should that little boy be that scared?
More ruminations to come.
Also deemed very important at Slate: Breaking news on another key topic has just been published by Slate:
RICH JUZWIAK / JULY 13, 2020 / 3:24 P.M.People, we're just asking! Does anyone ever get tired of the bad faith, the limited judgment and the cheap thrills of various kinds promulgated by the people who are hanging on, however they can, at bad-faith "news sites" like Slate?
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