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The Renisha McBride Case and Avoidance of Race

Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride

According to a November 15, 2013 article on TheGrio.com, Renisha McBride’s family does not want race to be a factor in the prosecution of her killer. Renisha McBride is the 19-year-old Black woman who was shot in the face by a White man after she knocked on the front door of his house in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.  Ms. McBride was apparently seeking help after a car accident.

Renisha McBride’s killer, 54-year-old Theodore Wafer, said he thought McBride was trying to break into his house and that his gun went off accidently. Unfortunately, this has become an all too familiar scenario – a young Black person is gunned down after being “mistaken” for a “criminal.” The cases of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida provide just two recent examples of similar incidents. Yet, in spite of this pattern, Renisha McBride’s parents have rejected even the possibility that their daughter could have been a victim of racial profiling.

According to TheGrio.com, “The parents want the public to imagine that McBride could have been anyone’s loved one, not a woman who was shot for being black.” And further, “Preferring to refer to McBride’s death as a ‘case of human profiling,’ [McBride’s father] asked the public to ‘think about the fact that any 19-year-old girl might be in a similar situation.’”

I pose a question to all who read this BlackAngryWomen blog.  Do the parents of ‘Black’ Renisha McBride want so much to believe in White acceptance of us (Blacks) that, even in the deeply tragic and personal circumstance of the killing of their own daughter, they have denied even the possibility that race could be a factor? This is deep, y’all.

I state, unequivocally, that the Renisha McBride case is racial. We cannot extricate Renisha McBride’s killing from the many other cases of young Blacks being shot dead due to racist perceptions of perceived ‘Black’ criminality. Nor should we want to.

We Blacks cannot ignore or deny racism out of existence. We will only experience racial justice when we call, and call out, racism by its name. Similarly, because race is still salient in this country, the public (and, by extension, potential trial jurors) will view this case through a racial lens no matter how many appeals McBride’s family makes to do otherwise.  The implications of the Renisha McBride case go beyond Renisha McBride. Again, this case falls within an all-too-familiar pattern of young Blacks being killed by Whites or “White-minded” individuals (George Zimmerman).

The outcome of the Renisha McBride case may affect the course of future cases. Even more, the McBride case could serve as a rallying point for people to fight or continue fighting for racial justice. That the parents and their lawyers have declared the case ‘non-racial’ is unfortunate; however, it should not dampen any of our efforts to mobilize.

We saw what happened in the George Zimmerman trial when the prosecution declined to bring up a racial motive in the case. Instead, the defense lawyers brought up race, to the benefit of George Zimmerman. The defense seized on the “creepy-ass cracka” comment that Trayvon Martin reportedly made in reference to Zimmerman, to show that Martin was the one doing the racial profiling. The defense created the impression that Martin pursued and “attacked” Zimmerman for his race instead of the other way around.  The defense also had several White residents of the neighborhood where Martin was killed testify that young Black males had been responsible for previous break-ins in the area and that they were terrified of potential future break-ins. Thus, the inference was that Zimmerman had a right to be suspicious of ‘Black’ Trayvon Martin.

Remember that Zimmerman was acquitted.

With Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy already stating that race will not be a factor in the prosecution of Theodore Wafer’s killing of Renisha McBride, I worry that his trial will go the way of the Zimmerman trial. If and when Wafer is acquitted, many of us will cry out in frustration and wonder how such an outcome could have happened, just as we did with Zimmerman. However, maybe we should start by looking at ourselves.

Racism is real.  We need to acknowledge and fight against it 24/7.

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