Renisha McBride’s Murderer Wants the Humanity He Doesn’t Deserve

r-mcbrideRenisha McBride, 19, was an unarmed teen. She was looking for help while black. Theodore Wafer, 55, responded by fatally shooting her in the face through the screen door of his home. Now, as he stands trial, he has been coached to cry, whimper, wince, and cower as though she presented a threat to him that fateful night of November 2nd. We have seen this before. We may see it again. But, that doesn’t mean we have to pretend it’s okay.

I don’t want to make this conversation about Wafer. He doesn’t deserve sympathy. McBride’s family does. But, as is par the course for trials involving single white male shooters and young black bodies, the media, defense, and jury of public opinion will paint this all too common homicide as Wafer’s little mistake. They will painstakingly bend and contort themselves into human pretzels just to find plausible reasons why Wafer’s actions are not only okay but understandable. Using white fear (which trumps black and brown existence), Wafer’s attorneys will seek to paint him as a startled old man who was only clinging to his gun to protect his liberty, property, and livelihood.

Wafer Was ‘Overcome’ With Emotion

Wafer described that night saying he had never been so scared in his life. He called the shooting a “total reflex reaction.” He noted that he had previously been targeted by home intruders and that he was “not going to cower” this time.

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When crossed, Wafer was forced to acknowledge the fact that when he spoke with authorities on the night of the murder, he showed little to no emotion. She contrasted his overt emotional nature on the stand with his stoic, nonchalance after murdering the teen.

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This Isn’t About Fear Though

As a black woman, I walk in latent fear everyday. I walk in fear of the police. I walk in fear of white people with guns. I walk in fear of what profiling might do to me and my children. This isn’t irrational. I have covered enough stories here about standing while black, mothering while black, driving while black, jaywalking while black, waving at the police while black, shopping while black, and, in the case of Renisha McBride, asking for help while black. These stories are the background music and soundtrack to many black peoples’ lives in this country.

This fear is a little bit different from the fear whites use to justify their killings of others. Instead of the ‘hair on end’ type, it is more of a heightened awareness sewn into the fabric of our existence. We learn that we can’t relax when others can. We can’t misbehave (or behave) the way others do. We can’t exist in the same spaces as many whites because – not only are we not welcome – we are deemed dangerous and threatening.

What does black fear garner us though? Does it give us a right to harm the people we fear? No. Not at all. Instead, it’s often answered with terms like ‘race card,’ ‘race baiting,’ ‘racist,’ and whatever other term has the root word ‘race’ in it. It is undermined. It is disregarded. It is deemed irrational. For we all live in a country which protects us from tyranny, chaos, and destruction. Right?

Being black and afraid is precisely what made Renisha McBride a victim on the night she was killed. Being stranded after a car accident and needing help, fearing for her own safety placed her in the crosshairs of a man whose white fear trumped her humanity. So, he ended her. And now, months later, when he forces himself to cry in front of the media and the watchful (yet completely naive and forgiving) eyes of his own peers, we are supposed to smile and nod. We were supposed to with George Zimmerman. We were supposed to with Michael Dunn. We were supposed to with Johannes Mehserle. Frankly, I’m just not ‘supposing to do’ that shit again.

We don’t have to pretend it’s humane to kill black teenagers. We don’t have to recoil and retreat every time white murderers are washed clean by the purifying eyes of the white republic. We just don’t have to. They can convene their self-congratulatory victory laps, but I certainly don’t have to validate them with my silence or inaction.

White fear doesn’t deserve humanity. It doesn’t deserve sympathy or pity. So, to whites so fearful of black and brown bodies that they would rather shoot them to death than ensure their equality, I offer this: You are the reason we won’t ever stop. We will never stop fighting you. You can’t erase us.

Video credit: WDIV

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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.

3 Responses

  1. Bryan2Blazed says:

    Stop racebaiting you racist black bitch. Fuck your website and fuck you. #FreeTedWafer

  2. LorMarie says:

    Took the words right out of my mouth. It’s a shame that we have to live with such fear but it needs to be discussed.

  3. Get Off The TIP says:

    white folks should b afraid… if ur not part of the solution… ur part of the problem… grow a spine…

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