From the US comes another sickening case of racist violence and murder. This time it is a young black woman, Renisha McBride, a teenager who was murdered while seeking help after a late-night car crash in a white suburb of Detroit.
From this article by journalist Rania Khalek, who broke the story:
Dearborn Heights police initially told McBride’s family that her body was found dumped near Warren Avenue and Outer Drive, but that story quickly changed. Not only are police refusing to release the identity of the man who shot McBride, they’re now saying she was mistaken for an intruder and shot in self-defense on the homeowner’s front porch. Even if that’s the case, and there’s reason to believe it’s not, the shooter still failed to call 911 after shooting an unarmed woman in the head, instead leaving her there to die. Does that sound like the behavior of a law-abiding gunowner who made a tragic mistake?
Writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton and Detroit hip-hop artist Invincible organised a rally for justice for the slain teenager, whose conduct on the night of the shooting is being questioned in accusations by the police and the media. This Huffington Post article describes the rally, and Hampton’s critique of the blame-the-victim response:
“This is what happens, again and again,” Hampton said, invoking the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin last year. “It’s kind of textbook. We’re able to break it down in the public media, when it came to Trayvon, the criminalization of the victim, of the corpse. Look, he got a C, look, he was a teenager who smoked pot, he had a sugar problem, he liked Skittles. … It becomes the criminalization of the corpse. … The police are supposed to be advocating for victims.”
Black feminists on Twitter have called out mainstream white feminists for not engaging with the Renisha case. Intersectionality, or the interaction of multiple dimensions of oppression, is as important to remember in this case as ever. If Renisha had been a white woman, we suspect there would have been little chance of her being murdered when seeking help on a stranger’s porch.
As of today, Ranisha’s murderer, who first claimed he thought she was an intruder, later changing his story to “the gun discharged accidentally“, has not been arrested, and his identity is being protected. Due to a stand-your-ground law in Michigan, it is possible he will not be charged. The absurdity of her murder, and the official response to it – for her actions to be questioned, not those of the man who killed her – illustrates the continued calamity that is racialized violence in the United States, supported by a legal structure that systematically denies justice for victims whose bodies are black and brown.