Georgina Guedes

Why the Dallas shootings were not the start of the war

2016-07-11 13:00

Georgina Guedes

There is nothing right about what happened in Dallas last week. I don’t subscribe to the eye-for-an-eye school of retaliation. Nor do I think that all American police officers are guilty because their badge associates them with the terrible actions of a few.

But I do understand how someone could have got to that point. I understand how, if you take an entire race and make them guilty just because of the colour of their skins, and declare it justifiable when armed citizens or police officers shoot them when they are doing nothing at all, that eventually, they might seek retribution.

After Dallas, former Republican senator Joe Walsh took to twitter to say: "Three Dallas Cops killed. Seven wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you."

The tweet has since been deleted, but it echoes what a lot of the kind of American that supports Trump will be thinking tonight. And the point that they’re missing is that, actually, the war was declared a long time ago and the black people of America have been its victims all along.

While the person who shot those officers in Dallas should have been brought to justice (if he hadn't ended his own life), the appropriate response now is not to declare war on whatever this is. It’s to examine how America got there. It’s to take a look at a police culture that says that leaving the house while being black is reason enough to suspect – and kill – someone.

The really chilling part about all of this is that police brutality against black people is not a new thing. It’s just that we now have cameras to show what’s happening. My heart aches for every black mother, father, wife, husband or child who is now thinking back on the loss of a loved one before cameras were as prevalent as they were today, wishing that the unjust loss of a good man or woman could be proven – knowing that the story that they were fed wasn’t true.

It’s a good lesson for South Africans as well – in a country where the terror of people who are black looms so large that a man can shoot his girlfriend through a bathroom door and get away with a light sentence because there could have been a black man in there.

The world has a problem. And it’s time we all started dealing with it.

My heart goes out to all the Americans who have lost lives in this conflict – and to all those people who never know how safe they are doing nothing wrong but being black.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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