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This Is America (In 2020): Existing While Black

This week on democracy-ish, Danielle and Touré are coming to you with heavy hearts in the wake of a newly released video that depicts yet another brutal murder of a young Black citizen of these United States.

“It is extraordinarily heartbreaking and triggering and painful to see this video,” says Touré. “It's been hard for a lot of people. But we want to talk about it –– and some of the other videos that have emerged over the past 10 years that have been really, really hard to watch.”

  • It’s 2020, and lynchings are still happening in America.

  • Everyone has a camera in their pocket. Are viral videos of Black murders traumatizing us more –– or are they vital for justice?

  • Why do we still have to convince anyone that Black lives matter? (Hint: there’s a white supremacist in the Oval Office.)

It’s been more than 10 weeks since 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot dead by two white men in a pickup truck while jogging through a Santilla Shores, Georgia, neighborhood. But the case is only just now receiving national attention –– and sparking outrage.

“It is fucking unconscionable that we are just learning about this now,” says Danielle. “Many people, as they watched it, didn't even realize –– until it was too late –– what the fuck they were watching. That it wasn't a clip from a movie. It’s somebody's life.”

What’s even more devastating is that we’ll add Ahmaud to an ever-growing list of Black folks who’ve been killed due to racial profiling and other forms of systemic racism.

We know many of their names by heart: Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Mike Brown. Laquan McDonald.

Others aren’t quite as well-known, but still etched in the consciousness of so many communities: Walter Scott. John Crawford. Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The lists go on.

What impact does this have on us –– our mental health as individuals, and our collective psyche?

“It's really painful to have these snuff films in your head all the time,” Touré adds.

It’s not just painful. It’s galling. It’s absolutely infuriating.

The rage is real. Let’s talk it out.

Episode Highlights –– The Rage Is Real: Ahmaud Arbery

This Is America … in 2020

Danielle admits that she spent the majority of the past few days in tears.

When media of this kind surfaces, like the citizen video of Ahmaud Arbery’s cold-blooded killing, “we share it wildly,” says Danielle. “As if we need to be spreading trauma porn.”

After the video of Ahmaud went viral, a chapter of the NAACP tweeted that folks should keep sharing and watching these videos.

“It is in the same vein that we share these videos as Emmett Till's mother had an open casket,” says Danielle.

The murder of Emmett Till and the power of Black media

For listeners who don't know the story, Emmett Till was a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who visited relatives in Mississippi in the summer of 1955.

On August 28, Emmett and his cousins went to a grocery store to buy candy. That’s where he –– allegedly –– had an interaction with a white woman. He was accused of whistling at her, flirting with her, and worse. (Decades later, she recanted most of her testimony; the case is still under investigation by the FBI.)

What we do know –– what is painfully seared into our national consciousness –– is that at least two men kidnapped Emmett, beat him, and gouged out one of his eyes before shooting him in the head and throwing him into the Tallahatchie River. His bloated, disfigured body was discovered three days later.

His mother “moved hell and earth to get his deformed body back fro