‘Comply’ or Die Anyway: White Supremacy Is Killing Us
This week has been an extraordinarily traumatizing week for democracy-ish: “Three stories of police violence and incompetence in one week,” says Toure.
The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is still ongoing. But this week, just outside Minneapolis, another police officer shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, at a traffic stop.
This wasn’t the only headline about violence perpetrated by law enforcement against Black people: A video emerged of a Virginia police officer using pepper spray against a Black army lieutenant.
In the midst of all of this trauma, self care has never been more important. Toure and Danielle talk about what they do to stay sane.
It’s been a rough seven days.
“We interrupt our ongoing coverage of a Black man murdered by a police officer to talk about the story of a Black boy murdered by a police officer,” Toure says –– “which followed the story of the release of a videotape of a situation five months ago when a Black army lieutenant just narrowly escaped being murdered by police officers.”
In that incident, Second Lt. Caron Nazario (in uniform, no less) was pepper sprayed by a Virginia police officer at a traffic stop.
“Only his intelligence and calm that he learned in the United States Army allowed him to survive,” Toure adds.
“But Daunte Wright, say his name, was 20 years old. He was a boy. He was murdered by a police officer, Kim Potter, who has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. I was not Nostradamus when I said before the Chauvin trial ends, we will have another one of these.”
He knew this because “it’s the cycle of America.”
After all, it hasn’t even been a year since we were in the streets yelling about Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks and Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor.
“The pain and the trauma of being Black in America is immense,” Toure says. “I continue to feel incredibly exhausted.”
Danielle does too: “The number one illness that is killing us is white supremacy,” she says.
“Because whether you die at the hands of a police officer with a badge or a white vigilante with a grudge, it doesn't f***ing matter.”
Episode Highlights –– Daunte Wright
Death by traffic stop and a ‘traveling Karen’
Toure sees “the modern police force as a traveling Karen, riding around, making sure you’re wearing your seatbelt, have paid your registration, eaten your vegetables ... and didn’t have air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror.”
They’re all excuses to do two things, he adds: “Number one, pull you over for pretty much any reason, so they can search the car for guns and drugs, which allows them to arrest you, seize the car, seize your home and any number of things.”
But they can also impose fines, which is problematic because police officers are responsible for generating revenue for their cities and although “none of it has to do with public safety,” Toure notes, being able to pull anyone over for “bullshit offenses” gives police far too much power.
If an officer suspects someone is driving drunk or otherwise endangering themselves and other citizens, that’s one thing. But, he says, “if you didn’t turn on your blinker for a lane change––”
Danielle interrupts: “And if you're Sandra Bland, you end up dead three days later.”
Citations penalize the poor –– for profit
A big part of the problem, Toure points out, is that officers who want to climb the chain of command must be able to boast about their statistics, like arrests and citations.
Plus, in most places, officers qualify for multiple hours of overtime even if they spend just five minutes in court. That’s a great incentive to write as many tickets as possible.
Danielle thinks the police “have become a for-profit business” which “penalizes the poor and criminalizes poverty in order to keep their lights on.”
But it’s ironic, she says, “that they receive so much fucking federal assistance … for their tanks and their G.I. Joe outfits and their helmets and their pepper spray and all of these fucking things” –– so they “shouldn't need to pull people over.”
Toure agrees: “It is totally wrong to have weapons of war built for Iraq and Afghanistan to be spread to American police forces. It makes absolutely no sense.”
Police are an ‘occupying force’ in America
The policing culture in America approaches Black and Brown people as if they must prove their superiority, says Toure –– insisting on “obeisance … but if you question them even the slightest bit, they’ll attack you as if they’re an animal attacking another to establish dominance. And at the same time, feeling and/or claiming –– or lying about feeling –– fear.”
Because a Supreme Court ruling gives them more latitude to use force in Black areas, cops are much more likely to do so, says Danielle.
“They need to compel our cooperation,” she says, arguing that the police amount to an “occupying force.”
That attitude is “the same shit –– the smugness –– we saw in Derek Chauvin as he knelt with his sunglasses on his head, hands in his pockets, squeezing the life and oxygen out of George Floyd's body,” says Toure.
“It is this idea that they can do whatever the fuck they want and no one can do anything about it.”
NYPD’s robot dog whistle
Maya Wiley, a lawyer, civil rights activist and one of the candidates for mayor of New York City, tweeted this week that the NYPD, which has a budget of $6 billion, “has spent $70 million to create a robot dog that is now in public housing, where largely poor Black and Brown people live,” Danielle says.
“$70 million dollars for a ‘dog’ to police people, as if we are literally living in ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Black Mirror.’”
That money could’ve gone a long way if it was put into the school system –– in which 1.2 million children didn't have sufficient computers and/or broadband to engage in remote learning during the pandemic.
When we compare the United States to other countries in terms of those kinds of investments, it’s no wonder why things look the way that they do, she adds.
Trigger warning: ‘Human error’ is BS
Toure wants to talk about Kim Potter, the officer who “accidentally” pulled her gun instead of her Taser and killed Daunte Wright in a suburb of Minneapolis.
Until she was fired from the Brooklyn Center force, she was on the job for 26 years –– “six years longer than Daunte was alive,” says Danielle.
How is it possible that she confused her 9mm Glock and her bright yellow plastic Taser –– “with an entirely different handle and trigger” –– and on different sides of her body? Toure asks.
Apparently, Potter held out the gun in front of her for several seconds.
“You have to unlock the safety to fire,” says Danielle. “So are we to believe that she is also colorblind, doesn't understand various textures and feels?”
That’s a stretch, but Toure believes the officer did make a mistake, even though it's an unacceptable mistake and the level of incompetence is insane,” he says.
“It wasn't a f***ing mistake,” Danielle replies. “She knew exactly what the fuck she was doing. I'm not going to continue to fall for the f****ing narrative put out there that it's simple human error. Because every time that these police officers make a fucking error, one of us ends up dead.”
That’s why she’s firm: “Fuck them. Fuck them and their mistakes and their narrative and their bullshit.”
‘Accidents’ waiting to happen
Toure agrees that police officers tend to use the same playbook: fear for their life, tragic error. But based on the video, he thinks Potter genuinely meant to use her Taser and not her gun.
“The way she says, oh, I shot him … it’s like, oh shit, I fucked up. And this is the millisecond after it happens. Her very first reaction is like, oh, f***.”
He’s “not saying it's right, not saying it's excusable. It's totally inexcusable,” he adds.
“Yeah, I just don't care,” says Danielle.
“You know, I really have lost the ability to give police officers the benefit of the doubt. I don't give a f*** if you fear for your life. Go into another fucking profession where you don't have to fear for your life. Go into a profession, if you are so accident-prone, where your accidents don't result in somebody else's fucking death.”
Why did Daunte run?
Toure thinks Potter shouldn't have pulled Daunte Wright over in the first place, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
“We have a bureaucracy that is semi-paralyzed,” he says. “Why are they pulling over people for these ticky-tack offenses? It's really unacceptable. It's like the police are the only people who are unaware we're in a special situation in human life right now.”
What about the argument: Well, why didn’t he comply?
“He was 20,” says Toure. “She's a professional who’s been on the job 26 years. She's an adult. If she didn't pull a weapon, he would be alive. If she didn't stop him, he would be alive.”
But why did he try to run?
“Oh, I don't know,” says Toure.
“Because he's f***ing terrified and didn't want to die?” Danielle suggests.
“Did you see what happened to George Floyd? What happened to Philando Castile? And how often we get killed? We walk around thinking about that all the time … that any day could be our last.”
Being Black is ‘Kafkaesque’ right now
As Toure moves through the world, he’s constantly aware that he “could be hurt or killed by a police officer even if I'm doing nothing wrong. It is a complete Kafkaesque situation.”
He says he wouldn't teach his son to run from the police. But “you can’t blame the brother for trying to run –– if he was like, I’ve got to get out of here; these people might murder me.”
That’s why Danielle is weary of the “comply bullshit” argument.
“Let me tell you something about complying, OK? N'er a fucking white person has complied when they're bringing bazookas and AR-15s up to state capitol buildings because they don't want to wear a fucking mask,” she says.
“We have clearly seen that compliance alone will not save your life,” Toure replies. “As soon as you are a Black person interacting with the police, you are one foot in the grave.”
“They're going to murder you if you comply, they're going to murder you if you don't,” Danielle adds.
“They're going to murder you if you decide to tint your windows, they gonna murder you if you don't ... If you are walking. If you're not walking. If you're sleeping in your bed. It doesn't f***ing matter. If you are Black, you are a target. Plain and simple.”
Racism is a public health threat
We live with such a high level of stress and anxiety and fear, yet “we wonder why the Black community is plagued with so many illnesses,” Danielle says.
It's a great week to make that point, says Toure: The CDC director just declared racism as a serious public health threat that affects the entire nation.
“And affects us in myriad ways,” he notes. “In terms of the police and hate groups to the way that COVID hits us even more than it hits white people. The way that certain diseases hit us more … and how just the stress and strain of living with racism and white supremacy shortens our lives.”
Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate who spoke at inauguration, echoed that sentiment when she tweeted this week: Being alive while Black is exhausting. Take care of yourselves and each other.
“It spoke to me,” says Toure, who says he and his friends are all “exhausted and stricken with grief.”
Danielle agrees and asks: “How am I supposed to answer emails and do fucking projects and work when ... all of us are a ticking time bomb, just waiting to go off?”
By that, she means waiting for “somebody we know to become the next hashtag.”
Meditation, exercise … and DoorDash
Toure asks: “What are you doing to try to create a little more sense of self care and to deal with your pain and trauma in this particular crazy week?”
Danielle does what she does every day: Meditate, work out and prioritize her health.
“I try to meditate twice a day at the beginning and at the end,” she says. “I went out and I did a 6.3 mile walk run. That's what I try to do on most nice days –– get some fresh air … And I continue to tell people on my shows: I use my self care as an act of resistance.”
Self-care is a way for her to tell the world: “You are not going to kill me,” she explains. “I am not going to get hypertension, diabetes, all of these things and just be stuck on my couch in depression. It’s an active resistance and I tell people to do the same. What do you do?”
Toure also swears by meditation and exercise.
“For me, it's tennis every day,” he says. “It really does become like an oasis when you're there in the park hitting forehands with somebody or playing a set with somebody, you really are disconnected from the world. But I'm not always as good at thinking actively about self care.”
Amanda Gorman’s sentiment reminded him of that, he adds.
“There are times like this when maybe you need to just order that comfort food from DoorDash, because shit is crazy. You know, I might need that fried chicken and that doughnut to make sure I get through. Because it's a lot.”
Twitter is toxic. Let’s tune it out.
Toure can barely peel himself away from the Chauvin trial, but it’s incredibly hard to watch.
“And then you jump on social and there's always somebody with something stupid to say: George Floyd would be alive if only he had just kept breathing. Or Daunte Wright would still be alive if he wasn't driving that car. Or he should’ve just listened to what the officers told him to do … those little prick-prick-pricks get to you.”
Danielle agrees: “It’s like death by a thousand cuts. That's what it feels like day in and day out. They're literally trying to bleed us dry, to suck our souls, to suck our life force out.”
But it’s nearly impossible to not pay attention to what's going on in the news.
“I feel compelled to know what's going on with the Daunte Wright situation, the Jacob Blake situation, the Derek Chauvin situation. There's like five different active stories we're following at once,” says Toure.
“I can't turn away, but I feel like perhaps I may need to turn away from social at some point ... to enforce some sort of one-, or two- or three-day Twitter break, because it's just this fire hose of toxicity shooting out at you daily.”
Super self-care Saturday and Sunday
For folks who've been on Twitter for a long time, Toure adds, “it's a habit that's a normal part of your life, and you may not realize how toxic it has become.”
You have to turn it off to learn that, says Danielle.
“I take off the weekends. If there is news breaking on a Friday or Saturday, I will not hear about it because I take those days off of social media, aside from being on Instagram to see pretty pictures and wonderful memes. I am not on Twitter because I need a break. I need to turn off the hose.”
The hose is not going to stop, she adds. “I don't want to drown in it. And I don't think that other people should either.”
This particular week has been a lot, says Toure.
“It's too much, actually. It's too much,” Danielle agrees.
Living in America while Black is “living on the edge all the time,” she says.
“You want to give me reparations? I'll take the money. You know what else I'll take? Two years of pay for every Black person in this country so we can rest and restore and recharge. And I'd love to see how the country exists during that time too. We out. How about that?”
We'll be next week, says Toure –– “if we can make it through this one.”
Check out the frustration, rage and absurdity that was the 2020 election on democracy-ish as Danielle Moodie and Toure discuss the current state of the political climate and our country from a Black perspective.