Racial Terror, Fast and Slow – NYTimes.com

Reflections on race and the contrast between particular events and the more insidious structural issues:

Another truth lies in plain sight, echoing through videos of the last moments of a man’s life and hashtags of protest: The lived experience of race often feels like terror for black folk, whether that terror is fast or slow. Fast terror is explosive and explicit; it is the spectacle of unwarranted black death at the hands of the state, or displays of violence directed against defenseless bodies.

Slow terror is masked yet malignant; it stalks black people in denied opportunities that others take for granted. Slow terror seeps into every nook and cranny of black existence: black boys and girls being expelled from school at higher rates than their white peers; being harassed by unjust fines by local municipalities; having billions of dollars of black wealth drained off because of shady financial instruments sold to blacks during the mortgage crisis; and being imprisoned out of proportion to our percentage in the population.

The last moments of Mr. Scott’s life, captured on video and widely watched, are classic fast terror. Watching the video made me sick; it was, perhaps, the breathtaking indifference to moral consequence that seemed to grip Officer Slager as he fired at an unarmed black man in broad daylight. A frozen frame from the video shows a police officer, gun drawn, in pursuit. Fifty years earlier, a lawman, in pursuit, pulled his gun and shot dead the Selma protester Jimmie Lee Jackson, whom the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “a martyred hero of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.”

The failure to be seen as human unites black people across time in a fellowship of fear as we share black terror, at both speeds, in common.

The way we see race plays a role in these terrors: Fast terror is often seen and serves as a warning; slow terror is often not seen and reinforces the invisibility of black suffering. Fast terror scares us; slow terror scars us.

Racial Terror, Fast and Slow – NYTimes.com.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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