Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown in 2014, now lives on the outskirts of Missouri . After killing an unarmed black teenager, Wilson received support from the public, who raised nearly $500,000 for him through a GoFundMe campaign. Mike Brown wasn’t a saint, and it is possible that he did attack Wilson, like Wilson said he did.
People always love to say we should not let the media vilify someone. We should let the jury make their decision. However, this logic does not seem to apply for the people who raised money for Wilson ahead of his trial. There is a disturbing trend where police murders of black males are always defended and the public views the cop as a hero, even before any facts come to light. We are just violent thugs that needed to be taken down. That is how we’ve been viewed for a long time, and the continuing strength of this image is a testament to the power of America’s racist legacy.
I came across this New Yorker interview of Darren Wilson, where he discusses some of his views concerning race and racism in Missouri. I always expected that his racial beliefs, like those of his supporters, would be anchored in colour-blind racism. I was right. Colour-blind racism, as I have discussed before, is a post-Civil rights belief that racism is now eliminated and that all races receive the same treatment in society. Colour-blind racists will often isolate racism to a fringe, a few outspoken bigots or organizations, while denying the presence of lingering institutional racism. Well documented gaps in achievement between whites and minorities in America are entirely the result of minority work ethic, according to colour-blind racists. Wilson’s thoughts on race serve as a perfect example of this mindset.
Firstly, he believes that Brown was wrapped in a culture that is “everywhere in the inner cities”. “Inner city” is often used as a euphemism for poor parts of a city populated mostly by minorities. When asked if the lack of jobs in Ferguson contributes to crime, Wilson denies that and says the lack of initiative to work is the problem. In his eyes, the (mostly black) people in Ferguson are just too lazy to work hard and get jobs. Wilson also believes that the only people affected by racism are those who lived through the civil rights era. Everyone else is just using it as an excuse for criminal behaviour. First checkmark for colour-blind racism.
The next checkmark comes when the interviewer asks Wilson about the systemic racism highlighted by a Justice Department Report. The report includes statistics on how black drivers were searched for contraband at a higher rate (by percentage of blacks, not population) than whites. Meanwhile, they possessed contraband less often, 26% less to be exact. Wilson says he has never read the report, but also argues that the statistics could “fit whatever agenda you want”. As I’ve discussed before, bigots always view any move towards equality as an “agenda”. Meanwhile bigoted policies are viewed as natural. While Wilson concedes that there are a few racist cops, the proverbial bad apples, he simply does not believe that the Justice Department’s report has any merit. Although he has not read it and has no facts to support his view.
This is the man who was given nearly half a million dollars by the public so he could buy a new home with his wife, who is also a cop. This is the man who the public and other police officers continue to send letters of support to. Sometimes, I truly hate America.