It’s that time of year again. The semester starts next week for me, and during the fall, I’ll be trying to balance teaching with dissertation writing and research. In the spirit of keeping myself on task when it comes to this blog, there are at least two posts I’m planning to make during the month of September. One will be in response to the film Belle (2013), which I mentioned in my last post, and the second will be a brief discussion on Juan Francisco Manzano (1797-1854) and his The Autobiography of a Slave/Autobiografia de un Escalvo.
Finally, for the past couple of weeks, my thoughts have also been on Michael Brown, his family, the Ferguson community, and the handling and media coverage of protests about Ferguson. It’s a topic I have a lot of opinions about both in terms of my research on race, interiority and personhood as well as how it continues to shape my personal experience and understanding of race and citizenship as a black woman in the United States. While I do believe in waiting to hear all of the facts surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, his death feels too closely linked to a tradition in the U.S. where lethal force is used against black citizens who may seem threatening, even if they are unarmed.
What was the threat in this situation and what was this officer Darren Wilson fearful of? When and why does it appear that fear itself is justification enough killing someone else? Fear is at the root of these very broad questions, but I start with fear because it is that emotion that allows us to determine how and to what lengths we protect ourselves and who we believe is worth protecting, especially within our national borders or local communities.