Sanford's Police Chief Is the Real Victim of Racism

Props to commenter Ian for catching yet another disgraceful quote from Sanford police chief Bill Lee:


Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn't mean anything to anybody.

When you read this sort of absurdist inversion--white men with guns and the legal right to kill are the true victims--it's always worth examining the historical context, helpfully outlined here by Trymaine Lee

Somewhat related, see my colleague James Fallows on the importance of not seeing Trayvon Martin as simply a "black" case:

...this case is obviously about race, and is important on those grounds. Race relations are after all the original and ongoing tension in U.S. history. But it is also about self-government, rule of law, equality before the law, accountability of power, and every other value that we contend is integral to the American ideal -- and also to "the America idea," exploration of which was the founding idea of the Atlantic Monthly back in 1857.

I just want to echo this sentiment and expand on it a bit. The approach here is not "either it's about race or it isn't." It's "this is about race along with..." From the outset, I sought to understand, not simply how the state of Florida's views young black men, but how its self-defense laws impact citizens, regardless of color. 

Moreover, it's worth understanding that this movement toward an absurdly low threshold for self-defense claims is a national one, which is making headway in states where very few black people live. As is often the case, black people bear a spectacular burden for bad public policy. But the burden is never solely--and rarely even mostly--born by black people. 
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in National

From This Author

Just In