Today, for Sabbath, I'd like to stretch our brains a little with a piece from Colin, my son, regarding reporting and #wordsmatter and #blacklivesmatter. Enjoy!
Let’s start off with some definitions.
Alleged: declared or stated to be as described; asserted; doubtful; suspect; supposed
Asserted: resting on a statement or claim unsupported by evidence or proof
Apparent: according to appearances, initial evidence, incomplete results, etc.; ostensible rather than actual
I have a deeply intimate and inordinately passionate love affair with words, and it’s important to me that we use them correctly, especially in regards to important matters that are consistently painting cruelty as ‘not that bad’ and victims as ‘the real problem.’ I really hate when articles are like, this is the "alleged" murderer, or the "apparent" attacker, or the "asserted" killer. No. Just, no.
These are response systems we have created to minimize attacks made by people in power (ie: whites killing people of color; cis folk killing trans folk; straight folk killing queer folk; etc.). It's using language to make yourself look different. It's the same reason why media refers to the murderer of those at the AME church as "soft spoken" and "quiet." It's the same reason why Al Qaeda attacked in 2001 (one controversial sect of a large and diverse populous, who, by in large, are not murderers) and now, we socially view all Muslim people, all Islamic people, and all middle eastern people, as terrorists, but a white man killing nine black people, is, at best, being labeled a hate crime.
Terrorism is 'the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.' And we are saying that the continuing happening of white people murdering people of color is not terrorism. That the continuing happening of white people making people of color scared to go to their supposedly safe spaces, as well as interact with the rest of the country at large, isn't terrorism. You're wrong.
I'm sick of the words alleged and asserted and apparent, like we're pretending we don't know yet. That there's a piece of evidence that could change it all. Look at him, he's soft spoken and quiet, he must've been bullied, and therefore wasn't entirely in his right mind. Look at him, he came from a good family. Look at him, he made a mistake and deserves a second chance. Look at him, look at him, look at him.
Words are very powerful. We use them, especially in positions of power, to paint on all of somebody's negative traits, if we disagree with them, and all of their positive traits, if we support them. And systemic racism supports white people and degrades people of color. Which is why people of color can be systemically attacked and hurt and under educated, unemployed, and murdered, and they weren't qualified enough for the job or trying hard enough as a student. But one cop retires with full support and the police is fine now, and a murderer is talked about as a soft spoken individual with pictures of his five year old self, like that's who we're saying allegedly did this.
Like, maybe, if when he was five, we could've been put him in a different situation, had him grow up in a different school with different friends, he'd be a different person, and he wouldn't have been a problem. And yes, perhaps that's correct. But systemic problems aren't solved by fixing one individual. He's one murderer, continuing the terrorism created by the systemic racism we all participate in, even as some of us fight against participating.
So let's at least get our definitions right. Because we know what this man did, and we know how and when and why.
There is no doubt in whether or not he killed people, or why he killed the people he did.
There is no evidence, no statement or claim that will suddenly give him innocence.
There are no incomplete results.
This happened. And people need to stop tamping it down to make it not as bad as it.
Colin Jon d.