Sonia Sotomayor, Dissent in Utah v. Strieff (2016)
By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. … They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.
Ben Moberg, “Some Thoughts on Orlando”
The Church has driven out LGBTQ people for centuries, with an especially intense malice over the last several decades, and in response to this, God just says, okay, fine, we’re good out here. Where you chase my people, I will be with them. Where they gather, I will be there. Clubs. Conversations. Protests. In lament and anger and tears and laughter and way too many drinks. I will be with them and make this right for them. I will love them more fiercely for their wounds. I will draw them close. I will know them and they will know me. They will tell you my name.
Alex Massie, “A Day of Infamy”
But, still. Look. When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’
When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.
Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.
The fact that the American Dream presents two very different faces depending on the color of yours is why Victor H. Greene created the Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936. Greene, an African-American postal worker, and an early social entrepreneur, saw opportunity in the fact that Black people wanted to enjoy the vast American landscape, but had to take into account inconveniences like being refused service, spat on, or lynched. Jewish newspapers had long published comprehensive listings of establishments for readers to avoid and the analogy to Black life was not lost on Greene. He developed a solution to what he termed the “embarrassment” that comes with being refused service for the color of your skin. Greene created a travel guide that listed all the restaurants, filling stations, museums, hotels, guest homes, grocery stores and establishments that readers would feel safe being Black in. The Green Book, as it was affectionately known by Black families, began publishing annually in 1936 and ran for 28 years, growing steadily in listings and readership, and becoming a staple in Black homes.