Although racism, sexism and other -isms are rampant on and offline, there is always a showcase of “beautiful” moments where people come together and it becomes hailed as transcendent. It becomes about what is possible when love is handed out instead of hate. Often the media aids in portraying these moments, particularly when white people are involved.
This sparks anger and frustration in those of us who see more than just the symbol or beacon of love but see perpetuation of white supremacist agendas due to the level of exposure these moments receive in comparison with moments where lack of forgiveness — and lack of a white recipient — exist.
Amber Guyger’s trial was about more than a white cop killing a Black man. It was about the lack of accountability for white people and lack of value placed on Black lives and, as such, many hoped to be proven wrong with this case. They hoped to see justice for a crime committed by a white female cop and to finally see this white supremacist, patriarchal system show that all lives, including Black lives, matter.
This case didn’t give us that. In the end, it was never going to because it’s about more than one instance of justice, which this case didn’t even achieve. It is about consistent actions that demonstrate the value of Black bodies — not a single half-assed attempt before we go back to our regularly scheduled “grand jury chooses not to indict/probation/time served" programming.
Besides Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, choosing to forgive and hug Amber Guyger— the beauty of that moment is his capacity for forgiveness and should be beautiful irregardless of the white women he embraces, but for many it’s because he is hugging a white person that it is oh so poignant — the rest was just white supremacy at play from start to finish.
The reason this moment is touching is because white people, especially white women, are always considered worthy of grace, love and forgiveness despite their complicity and even participation in a system built to uplift one group while oppressing many other groups.
Even the judge and guard felt the need to coddle and comfort the white woman who murdered an innocent Black man. Even our own can fall into the white supremacy belief that white women need to be handled “with care”. Likely those same two would not and have not extended that kindness to a Black person in their courtroom.
So many people tried to explain what was wrong with depicting this moment in that manner. It’s not beautiful. It’s even less beautiful when you realize that she will likely be released in 5 years for murder, when so many Black and Brown people are incarcerated for longer periods for less severe infractions. Yet, they receive no comfort, no forgiveness and no leniency because they are judged harsher simply because they are not white.
Even if her sentence had been longer, it still would not change the fact that Black people and people of color are incarcerated at higher rates than their white counterparts.
White people easily see the beauty in these moments because they are not victims of this corrupt, broken system. One Black man hugging a white woman so that he can heal does not create a balm or salve for what Black people collectively experience.
It would not change all the other instances where police were not charged nor convicted, even in the face of blatant evidence, for murdering a Black person and it will not change all the cases in the future where police will get away with government sanctioned murder.
It would not change the fact that a 6 year old Black girl was handcuffed for a tantrum. It would not change the fact that a 9 year old Black boy was tossed out of school, while temperature was in the 40s, without proper winter wear because of an altercation. It would not change the fact that we constantly see Black children handled in a manner not befitting their youth but befitting their race.
You see a beautiful moment and then we turn on the news, turn on social media and see another instance of a Black person (Joshua Brown — key witness in Amber Guyger’s trial was executed) being murdered under suspicious circumstances.
We cry for our beautiful moments. To receive acknowledgement that we exist and matter.
Yet we are denied. The media floods us with images of Amber being hugged and lack that same zeal when the person who testified to get justice for Botham Jean is murdered. Nor are those same white people trilling over that “beautiful moment" giving this suspicious death the same degree of attention.
We can’t count on white people to see our humanity except in relation to how it benefits them. Nor should we have to because we are not the problem. We never were.
A beautiful moment will be when Black people and people of color don’t have to live in fear of police. Or when we don’t have to worry that if our voice goes up the police will be called for our “threatening behavior”. Or when we don’t have to worry about our children being body slammed by police, or slugged by a white man who is merely sentenced to anger management. Or when a white couple, who abuses and starves their adopted Black children, is actually sentenced to jail time rather than probation.
There is no beautiful moment that can be found in the absence of equality and justice. There is no beautiful moment while we are still targeted and oppressed. There is no beautiful moment when white people in need of assistance receive a “bailout” and for anyone else it’s a “handout”. There is no beautiful moment in the micro if there is no effect for the macro.
This is not a beautiful moment. Unless you’re white.