Sunday, August 20, 2017

Justine and Heather

They’re an unlikely duo, Justine Damond and Heather Heyer, on opposite sides of the country but wed by circumstances and tragedy, the new hashtag saints in the American victimography, anomalies, outliers, everyday people, two who made history by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the wrong time.

The fact that they’re both white women who died via an agent of institutional power (a police officer acting on a mistaken assumption) or at the hands of a white supremacist driving a car through a crowd (and maybe really intending to kill a person of color instead) complicates the established narrative of 21st-century race relations, simply by undercutting the rationale for its continued oversimplification. The circumstances of their deaths are inimical to the received wisdom of American race relations, the customary equations of the histories of black and white Americans alike.

Not least of all because of Damond and Heyer’s tragic, sudden visibility in the culture, the perceived calculus of who lives and who dies in racially-impactful situations is a little different now — and you dismiss the social importance of perception at your peril. The notion of “skin in the game,” actionized faith in the principles basic to the fight for social justice, looks to be more of the ecumenical civic experience it’s always been.

Read the full essay at The Omnibus @Medium

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