Date: July 13th, 2016 8:12 AM
Author: guy who gets it
I Feel Like Prey
Monday 5:45pmFiled to: POLICE
It’s human to believe that we have some kind of personal agency over our own survival. We’re self-aware beings. We believe we are special. We’re also fantastic at pattern recognition. Humans recognize patterns even when none are there. It’s perfectly rational for us to believe that we can increase our own survival outcomes through the personal agency of our careful planning.
When we see another human killed, it’s also perfectly rational to think about what that person could have done differently. It’s rational to add that data point to our list and try to construct a new pattern for how we can avoid the same “mistakes.” We believe, we must believe, that there is some choice or trait that separates the survivor from the fallen. It can’t just be random. The human intellectual achievement that binds all the progress of our species together... is to bring order from chaos.
That order is an illusion. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a rule that never sleeps. Entropy, the decline from order into disorder, is the one true God. No matter what you do, the universe will break it, until chaos is all that is left.
The animals that we share this planet with, especially the ones who are predated upon by forces beyond their control, they are blessedly free from the flawed concept of personal agency. Prey animals rely on the group for defense, and the law of large numbers for planning. The antelope does not plan a response should a lion attack, nor does it analyze the errors of the cousin who was eaten last week. It’s entire individualized lion survivability strategy can be boiled down to: “avoid lions, if possible; run if not.”
As a black man, my only natural predator is a cop. Other things might kill me, the cop is the only one who acts like it’s his job. And the only survival strategy that I can personally implement is the same as any other prey animal: avoid or run away if at all possible. That is the extent of my personal agency. Because if they catch me, my life is no longer in my own hands. If they catch me, I am at their mercy, and there’s not a damn thing that I can do to re-take my input into my own survival.
Cops, and the people who want to believe that police are fundamentally decent as an institution, want you to believe that there is something you can do after these enemies have gotten you: “comply.” Do what the cops say, without question, and you will live.
Even if we table the issue that failure to “comply” with police is not a capital offense in any jurisdiction I’m aware of, the cops are pretty clearly lying about the benefits of compliance. It’s a song sung to white people so that white people think there is an order to their shootings. But we’ve seen time and again, on video, that “compliance” will not stop the cops from shooting you. Philando Castille was trying to comply. Eric Gardner and Alton Sterling were fully, physically, in compliance. Freddie Gray was in custody. They are all dead. So are many others. And there are legions of compliant black men who were beaten or violated in some way.
Compliance is just the lion telling its prey “ssshhh, it’ll all be over soon.” At the point where the officer can tell you to comply, he already has the power to kill you. It’s already up to him. There’s nothing you can do or not do to save yourself if the cop is of a mind to shoot you or beat you.
Non-cops, both white and black, comfort themselves with a different personal agency tune. “Just don’t [commit any number of minor offenses], or seem like the kind of person who would.” If I don’t wear certain clothes at certain times, while not driving too fast or too slow in my professional yet modest sedan, in neighborhoods accustomed to black people driving through, but not in neighborhoods where enough black people live to warrant enhanced police surveillance.... I SHOULD BE FINE.
Again, this is a failure of humanity’s overzealous pattern recognition. Honestly, whenever one of my friends or family members tells me about a new thing I can do to enhance my survivability, all I hear is “You were born under the sign of the potato, while Venus was rising in the cornhole of Uranus. You have nothing to fear from cops, dogs, or chickens today. But beware the great salamander.”
THERE IS NO REASON FOR THE COPS TO SHOOT ME. Don’t you get it? They can shoot me while driving through the suburbs or shoot me on the way to work or shoot me while I’m playing with my kids or shoot me while I’m drunk at a bar, and their justification will be false because there IS NO REASON to shoot me without due process of law.
African-Americans are hunted by the police. The reason I’m alive and Philando Castille is dead has nothing to do with how I wear my hair. It has nothing to do with where I drive or how compliant I am with authority.
It just wasn’t my time. The killer culled some other black man from the herd that day and, momentarily satiated, allowed me to escape. How many black men “fit the description” and took some brutality or bullets just before I drove through town? I’ll never know. All I know is that I was fortunate to avoid the police yesterday as I went about my business.
Tomorrow, who knows. It’s not really up to me. I can’t plan to NOT be predated upon.
All I can do is hope that the cops are not on the prowl when I dart out of my hiding place to gather food and supplies for myself and my family.