In Rochester Hills, Michigan on April 12, Brennan Walker,14, almost died on the way to school. Brennan overslept, missed his bus, and knocked on a door of a neighboring house for directions to his registered school, Rochester High School. Don’t miss this.
His mom had taken his phone, so he didn’t have GPS or any other outside resource to help him get to school.
Missed his bus.
Knocked on a door for directions because he was walking to school.
Brennan knocked on the door of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Zeigler. When Brennan knocked on the door, Mrs. Zeigler answered, opened it and yelled at him. When Brennan was trying to explain what it was he wanted, she shouted at Brennan and started crying, claiming he was trying to break into her house. From her hysterics, her husband, Jeffrey, came from their bedroom, grabbed a gun, and shot at him. Brennan ran from the house. The only reason he didn’t get shot was because dude didn’t take the safety off the shotgun.
The most troubling thing I find is this quote given by the wife, then repeated by Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright:
“One of the things that stands out, that probably angers me the most is, while I was watching the tape, you can hear the wife say, ‘Why did these people choose my house?’” Wright said. “Who are ‘these people?’ And that set me off. I didn’t want to believe it was what it appeared to look like. When I heard her say that, it was like, but it is.”
(Quote taken from The Washington Post, April 13, 2018 article written by Eli Rosenberg)
Here comes now the nature of racism in this country. As the acclaimed jazz musician Wynton Marsalis says, and I, too, often quote, “The more we run from race in this country, the more we run towards it.” Here is a key example of this!
When Mrs. Zeigler answered her door, all of her upbringing, social interactions, and xenophobia (especially towards blackness) answered the door. She didn’t see Brennan as a young man whom may have needed something, she saw him as an immediate threat. She thought he could not have wanted anything positive, she would not have helped him if he did, and much like what happened in areas of the country where there was a thriving black population (like Rosewood, Florida), it is at the cries of white women that white men seem to be boldest and bravest. Mrs. Zeigler even called the police at about 8:20 am to say her husband chased off a black male who had tried to break in.
Jeffrey Zeigler, a retired firefighter, shot at a child. He shot at a child who was running away, because ‘these people’ had come to his house where his wife was, and he felt within all rights to shoot at this child who was running away, because blackness, black boys especially, must be threatened and shown the sternest punishment for their otherness by lethal means. He is now in jail on $50,000 bond. He has been charged assault with intent to murder and a felony firearm charge.
I am thankful the Zeigler home security system caught the whole incident, recorded what she said, as well as her husband shooting at a child who was running away. Whenever this racist underbelly is exposed in situations like this, and those before it (Renisha McBride, and Jonathan Ferrell for example), rings eerie familiar of stories only heard of and spoken of in communities of color or other minority circles. Whenever white people lash out, steeped in the supremacy of their own whiteness, resistant to anything that challenges it in regards to equality or fairness, these incidents happen. The first thing repeated is the fear — because that is easier.
It is easier to fall on white fragility than to self-reflect. White fragility are the arms of the monster of white supremacy! It is the reason police ‘fear for their lives’ when interacting with people of color or any other minority. White supremacy tells scary karma-believing white people that in order to maintain and remain dominance, the other must not rise up, question this narrative of authority or be freed–by any means necessary.
In the Trump-believing America, where to be the other is dangerous, and to claim humanity, justice and equality is treason while being the other–white fragility is still the man behind the curtain in this Land of Oz. Every time it is discovered, it changes form but it’s always the same – -like all scared animals. And once cornered, it lashes out because self-preservation is primal. Meaning the opposing force has to be stronger to eliminate it. Don’t think racism, white fragility is a past generation problem — it has only changed form. Pay attention; it is essential as never before.