The streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, have been taken by protesters over the last few days. After the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man who was killed by police on Sept. 20 while reportedly reading a book, hundreds of people joined the protests on Tuesday and Wednesday night. On Wednesday night, Fox News reporters approached a black demonstrator to ask why she was there, as she approached a shopping center where a man had just been shot. And this woman's response speaks to America's racial divide.
Most anyone should be able to understand why people are organizing demonstrations after Scott's tragic death. We have seen cases like his far too many times. Scott should not have been killed. The police need to be held accountable. The system that perpetuates this violence needs to change. That's why people are organizing actions across the country. That's why people are grieving, are outraged, are tired. And this woman, Allegra Williams, powerfully explained to reporters how her reality in this country is completely different than their own.
When asked, "Why are you here?" Williams responded:
OK, a man got shot over here, right? So you’re basically saying why would I put myself in danger, right? But guess what? I can be at work, at school, in my car, I could still get shot by the police. I could get shot anywhere. Do you see me? Do you see you? We are not the same. We are human, but I am black and you are white.
Williams later explained to BuzzFeed, "I was yelling from emotion. I was yelling from pain. I was yelling because I was angry. I’m not angry at white people. That’s where a lot of people get it misconstrued." It's important for people to understand how living in this country is different for people of different races. And bringing attention to this issue is not race-baiting or racist. "Colorblindness" doesn't actually help anyone, and pretending that America is post-race or post-racism is counterproductive. It's OK to acknowledge difference, rather than erase other people's real-life experiences, and we absolutely should acknowledge difference in order to create a world that is safe for all bodies.
Scott is the fifth black American to be killed by police just the past week, according to The Guardian's The Counted project. It also reported that, so far this year, there have been 790 people killed by police officers in the United States, with Native Americans as the most affected community, followed by African-Americans, Hispanics, and Latinos.
The organizing and the demonstrations will only continue. Williams explained to BuzzFeed that she hopes to see peaceful protests. However, she added, "I can’t tell anyone how to protest. They’re doing what they feel is right. Everyone is impacted by different feelings." Violent and racialized policing is a serious issue that disproportionately affects non-black communities of color and African-Americans, and it is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.