Jacob’s Clothes

His body bears the evidence: seven holes pierced his flesh and paralyzed his legs. His clothing might be the determining factor of what was imposed on his body.

The outcome would have been different if Jacob Blake was clothed in his rights as a citizen of America. If Jacob walked to his car clothed in his rights as a citizen, then every effort would have been made to restrain him rather than stain the garment of his rights with his own blood. But Jacob wasn’t seen as a man whose dignity was covered with the honor of citizenship. He was seen as a man clothed in that hostile skin that America has deemed to be a problem from its origins. It’s skin that doesn’t cause one to pause before puncturing it with bullets. It’s a skin that is such a threat it’s better to act first and evaluate later.

Society will engage a public discourse to evaluate what happened. They will look to justify this violence by listing possible wrongs rather than stating his established rights. They will even reach far into his past for previous wrongs as if each one is tattooed to his skin as an identifier in the heat of the moment. It’s a society that will justify violence rather than uphold justice. The presumption is that the perceived wrongs validate seven shots, in close proximity, to the back of an American citizen.

Is disobedience all it takes to permit penetrating a soul with violent trauma?

This approach to justice is too often applied to Black people. Like the oppression of the generations pasts, we live in a society that declares, “Black people only received what they deserve.” They are incapable of being civilized so enslavement is for their benefit. They are too ignorant to know how to vote. They are too filthy to swim in our pools or drink from our fountains. They are too poor to be in our neighborhoods. Perspectives like these lead to practices like slavery, segregation, and redlining. The injustices are justified because the person receives what they deserve. This wardrobe of lies is the reason that injustice persists.

The truth is that at the birth of every American they are swaddled in the protection of citizenship. Every person is born embodying the warmth of their God given dignity. Stand tall and resolved in the garments you wear and the value you posses. Give the same honor to every conversation about Jacob Blake. Resist the inclination of a society that will be anxious to justify violence rather than pursue justice. Insist that the garments of citizenship, authority, and good intentions that society will cloak over Rusten Sheskey will also cover the wounded body of Jacob Blake. Justice will be determined by how we clothe Rusten and Jacob. Their clothing is critical to how we view their actions and how we determine any retribution.

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