Renisha McBride,19, Murdered For Needing Help While Black

r-mcbrideIt seems we hear this story every few weeks now. A lone black person seeking help is gunned down by someone who perceives them as a threat. In September, it was 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell shot to death by police while running toward them to get help after a car accident. Now, 19-year-old Renisha McBride has met the same fate. In an effort to get help after an accident, she was killed on the front porch of a Dearborn Heights, Michigan resident who is claiming that he ‘accidentally’ shot McBride in the face with a shotgun. Initial reports claimed the shooting was in self-defense. But, she was unarmed. She was killed outside of his home probably asking to use a phone or receive some other form of assistance. So, what exactly could he have been defending?

In the wee hours on Saturday morning, at about 2am, McBride reportedly engaged the shooter. It is assumed that she knocked on his door seeking help. No one will ever know exactly what happened since she can’t speak for herself. But, what is known is that the shooter answered her with a loaded shotgun and inevitably killed the teenager. The deadly weapon was loaded and the safety was off. So, the claim that this murder was accidental seems a bit far-fetched. Self-defense seems out of play here too given the fact that the young woman was shot on the front porch of the home. She never gained entry into the home to pose a threat to the man who killed her. And, since when do intruders announce themselves? Where I’m from, the person attempting to harm, rob, or in any way defraud you does whatever they can to go unseen. Knocking or drawing attention seems to undermine that. Just like in the Ferrell case, these young people are deemed to be criminal in some way rather than as fellow citizens in need. Heck, even Henry Louis Gates was arrested inside his own home for…well…being black in his own home.

Details have yet to be released regarding police findings in the case and whether or not there will be charges pressed against the shooter.

Regardless of the intent of the homeowner in this case, it seems that black people are always guilty till proven innocent. Countless times (Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Jordan Russell Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, etc.) stories emerge about excessive force – typically white on black gun violence – resulting in the death of a young black man or woman because the shooter believed they were a threat. White people are scared to death of black people. This is baseless and stupid since they are way more likely to be harmed by a white person they know than a black stranger. But, it is true nonetheless.

In a 2006 study by the Association of Psychological Science, researchers found that respondents falsely identified someone to be in possession of a gun more often when the person was black. Similar findings were noted in a recent piece from The Daily Beast.

“…more than 30 percent said that blacks were more violent than whites. Respondents were also asked specifically about violence among black men versus white men, black women, and white women. The results? More than 40 percent said that “many” or “almost all” black men were violent, compared to less than 20 percent who said the same of black women or white men, and less than 10 percent who said the same of white women.”

Knowing this information, couldn’t it just be said that McBride was doomed the moment she found herself black and in need of assistance? She already had the deck stacked against her. Maybe she wasn’t as pre-culpable as Trayvon Martin and Jordan Russell Davis were assumed to be because of her gender but even being a young woman was not enough to save her life.

At some point, this social narrative will begin to get stale the with American people. Injustice to this degree will begin to wreak a wicked stench on the justice and liberty we so aptly cling to in this country. It is disgraceful that these young black people continue to be sacrificial lambs to our accommodation of senseless fear. But, we will continue to shine light on these unnecessary acts of violence against young black people as long as it takes for this undercurrent to subside.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

2 Responses

  1. Stories like this make my heart and head ache! We will never know the entire story and this young women’s life was just snuffed out…for what??? As a mother of 3 young children (2 boys and 1 girl) I’m at a lost many times as to how to raise them to react in certain situations – especially living in the South.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this is truly a tragedy. I also struggle with how these occurrences could affect my children. All we can do is pray that increasing media attention will bring light to these events and decrease their chances of happening again.