bell hooks on White Fear and the Dehumanization and Consumption of Black and Brown Bodies
I came across this startingly prophetic word from bell hooks, a luminary among Black feminist scholars:
The growing number of gated communities in our nation is but one example of the obsession with safety.... The person who is really the threat here is the home owner who has been so well socialized by the thinking of white supremacy, of capitalism, of patriarchy that he can no longer respond rationally. White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a news-speak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor.... This is what the worship of death looks like.
bell hooks(2000). All About Love: New Visions
Melissa Harris-Perry's Open Letter to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's Mother
With what prescient Spirit hooks peered into events yet distant from when those words were first penned!
So many of our sons and daughters have been murdered at the altar of White supremacy,
and the slaughter has been justified in the name of "self-defense," i.e. Stand Your
Ground. The dominative media narrative in all these cases has been to cast the
alleged Black/Brown suspect as perpetrators of violence - "thugs" and lawbreakers -
who are up to no good, while portraying the aggressive, violent actions of the law
enforcement officer or citizen protector as necessary to protect self/others/property
from harm and/or destruction. Indeed, the cult of death has been revived (although it
has never really died) in "post-racial" America, a cult with a most perverse,
insatiable appetite for Black and Brown bodies. And like a cult blindly following
and worshiping its charismatic leader, America, with alarming and increasingly
violent efficiency, profiles, binds and neutralizes Black/Brown bodies in name of
the god of safety. It is the hope and prayer of this writer that this post will
arouse righteous indignation in the reader leading to right action to resist this
demonic scourge of racist violence against people of color. Amen.