What can I say about the shooting of Antwon Rose, Jr. (age 17) in Pittsburgh that I didn’t say about Stephon Clark (age 22) in Sacramento? How time flies when you’re watching handsome young black men get shot in the back!
Usually, in the days following the shooting, the police cast aspersions on the victim’s innocence, no matter how irrelevant to the issue at hand. It’s almost always revealed that the victim had a criminal record—“previously arrested on drug charges” or “prior possession of marijuana”—in an attempt to distract the white public from the obvious reality of what has occurred. But the fact is, given America’s bogus long-term wars on drugs and crime, which we know are really part of its longer-term, never-ending war on the “other,” a disproportionate number of young black men are branded with criminal records of that sort—which is a tremendous problem in itself.
Unfortunately, however, many white Americans eat those aspersions up like hotcakes. Even if it’s in their unconscious mind, they’re still programmed to believe “the Negro” is guilty. The black male, in particular, remains the culture’s scapegoat, an archetype responsible for all that is evil. A good portion of white America, unconsciously or not, still looks for an excuse to believe that myth; indeed, they are relieved when their deep-seated prejudices are justified. We may ask, “How many black men have to die?”, but they can never kill enough black men to satisfy their need for justification. Is there any doubt that it takes a mountain of evidence for them to believe a black man is innocent, but just the slightest spark to ignite their assumption of his guilt?
Antwon, however, only seventeen years old, an honors student and a community volunteer with no criminal record, poses a serious challenge for those who would like to distract us from the truth. Fortunately, the officer who shot him has been charged with criminal homicide.