I heard about the murder of little Cannon Hinnant two days ago. I had posted an article (like I do) about a KKK member who got sent to prison for driving through a crowd of protestors, and I said that even though the far-right acts like “ANTIFA” is what we all need to fear, if you’re looking for who is committing the real acts of violence & domestic terrorism, and who you need to be afraid of in this country, it’s RACIST, WHITE MEN. And then some dude showed up (you’ll never guess his complexion), posted a picture of Cannon & his accused murderer with a description of what happened, and said, “Evil comes in all colors.” So I searched his name on Google (like I do) and researched the story… From what I read, it was senseless and horrific and awful. So sad.
Apparently, a man named Darius Sessoms — a friend of Cannon’s family — shot the boy in the head and killed him. The next day, a warrant was made for Sessoms’ arrest, and within a day he was arrested, charged with first degree murder, and denied bail.
The story began to spread across the country, nearly all the posts with accompanying pictures of Darius Sessoms’ mugshot — I assume to ensure that everyone knew that it was a BLACK MAN who committed this murder. And then came the hashtags, which were mostly plays on Black Lives Matter hashtags: #SayHisName, #JusticeForCannon, and #HisLifeMattered… The narrative was that people (the media, in particular) care when Black people get murdered, but no one bats an eyelash when we poor, oppressed white people get killed (a message that has apparently made it to the Department of Justice, because with all the craziness in the world right now, the DOJ has decided to open a case against Yale for “discriminating against white people”). White folks were angry, and they managed to somehow make this boy’s tragic death about George Floyd… Crap like this:
“Double standard!” they cried. “Where’s the outrage??” they demanded to know. “WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS?!? Well, if you were on social media at all recently, you SAW where the outrage was. And that is what has me up in the middle of the night writing right now. So here are five things I have been thinking about…
1) “HIS LIFE MATTERED.” Of course his life mattered. Honest question: Who do you see saying that his life didn’t matter? We know that his life mattered because the man accused of killing him was arrested and charged within a DAY. They didn’t wait three months to arrest and charge his killers (like they did with the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery). His murderers aren’t still walking around free 5 FULL MONTHS after they killed him (as is the case with Breonna Taylor’s killers). His life wasn’t ended by a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he called out for his dead mother as onlookers pleaded for his life (as happened with George Floyd). You can tell his life life mattered because the GoFundMe for the family has raised nearly $600,000 in three days. Do you see people presuming the kid did something to deserve being killed and assuming that the shooting was justified? No? Well that’s one way to tell his life matters. I mean, C’mon, Chachi…
2) “WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS?” Do y’all even have anything close to a clue what the protests have been about? Because I don’t think you do… They’ve been protesting systemic racism (like the kind that initially resulted in no charges being filed against the white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery and then stood over his lifeless body and called him a n****r). They’ve been protesting police brutality (like the kind that resulted in the death of Elijah McClain where cops received a call of him “looking sketchy,” they stopped him while walking and committing to crime, put him in a choke hold, and then injected him with ketamine). They’ve been protesting the LACK of justice for the loved ones and families of the people who have been unjustly murdered. Protests & riots don’t happen just because someone is killed… Protests & riots happen when nothing is done to show the community that justice is being served. Riots don’t necessarily happen because Rodney King is beat up by police — Riots happen when those cops aren’t charged with a crime & held accountable. The reason no one is protesting the random, tragic shooting of Cannon Hinnant is because JUSTICE IS BEING SERVED. No one gets mad when their internet is WORKING… We get mad when it goes out. We get mad when the system ISN’T working. The system isn’t working for Breonna Taylor.
3) ALMOST ALL OF THE OUTRAGE IS COMING FROM WHITE PEOPLE. Why do you think that is? Sure, you might be able to track down a random “Candice Owens-ish” voice cashing in on white outrage… But if you check the faces of the people who are liking and sharing those posts, they are almost universally white. I have a lot of ideas about what is behind that, but I want you to genuinely spend some time thinking about why it is that the profile pics of the ones who seem very upset that not enough attention is being paid to this young boy’s death nearly ALL contain photos of white faces. Or flags. Or eagle holding guns. I guarantee you there have been many black kids in this country who have been killed in the six days since Cannon’s death. Why aren’t we hearing from these same white voices about those random, tragic deaths?
4) THIS IS NOT A PATTERN. This murder is horrific and heartbreaking, but there have not been a rash of black men running up to white children and shooting them in the head. We DO see a pattern of continued police brutality and a different set of rules for officers interacting with white folks and with Black folks. We DO see a pattern of white anger at the perception of persecution & oppression, when what is really happening is adjusting to the discomfort of equality. What we DO see happening over and over again is the pushing of images of Black men as criminal. If you want to post about how sad this event made you, that’s one thing… But posting images that reinforce the “FEAR BLACK MEN” narrative is doing actual harm. It is allowing people to justify their hatred and racism, and that is very, very dangerous. Regardless, if someone shares an article about how many white supremacists are trying to kill people, and you respond by showing a random, deranged black man who committed a murder, I’ve got some bad news for you: Your racism is showing.
5) IS IT SUDDENLY OKAY TO “POLITICIZE A TRAGEDY?” Have y’all noticed that the Venn diagram of the people who will tell you that you shouldn’t “politicize a tragedy” after yet another mass shooting or act of gun violence, and the people who are now politicizing Cannon’s murder is a PERFECT CIRCLE? When 20 first graders get murdered by a man with an AR15 and people talk about passing legislation to make those tragedies less common, it’s distasteful to “use their deaths” to make a point. But these people are angry that the shooting happened, and trying to do things to prevent it from happening again. NONE of the people talking about “#HisLifeMattered” seem particularly concerned with trying to prevent this sort of thing from happening again… Or how Cannon might still be alive if everyone & their niece didn’t have access to a highly efficient killing tool… They’re concerned that George Floyd’s funeral was bigger. Imagine politicizing a kid’s murder when the point you’re trying to make is “WHITE PEOPLE AREN’T GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION!” That is really, REALLY gross. Seriously… Stop it.
That’s it. That’s what I wanted to say… Stop it. Please.
I talked to my mom yesterday… She told me to write about something happy. I told her I usually write when I’m overflowing with something, and I haven’t felt overflowing with happiness in a while. She reminded me that I have a whole lot to be happy about… Anyway, aren’t moms the best? Sorry, mom. I know this isn’t a happy subject, but it had me overflowing. Maybe next time?
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