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Post-Racialism Denied: Sean Bell Case Ends Without Conviction

There are those who mistakenly believe that the election of President Barack Obama would be the great equalizer on all things racial in the United States.  That somehow, a black man holding the nation’s highest political office was the realization of two hopes, both the meritocratic American dream and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of integration.
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Instead, the visibility of President Obama and his family has only underscored how much race still matters in this country, even to the liberal folks who not only praise Obama’s speaking skills at any given moment, but can manage to forget that blackness for hours at a time. Perhaps, they have even managed to forget about humanity, which appears to be the case with Sean Bell.

On Feb. 16, 2010, federal authorities ruled that three NYPD officers would not face civil rights violation charges for the fatal shooting of Bell, 23, who was unarmed as 50 bullets riddled his body the night before his wedding.

Claiming insufficient evidence to file charges, the Justice Department stated, “Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil-rights violation.”

And yet, the politics of fear and legislative negligence are just two of the many reasons that keep this country mired in race, maintaining systems of privilege for the few that messily conflate our interactions with one another. True post-racialism speaks not to our ability to dilute or ignore race, but rather to operate functionally and fairly with it in plain sight. Post-racialism understands that difference is not inherently bad, and that a multicultural, multiracial nation cannot thrive with a unicultural agenda.

Until then, there will still be blood on the streets.

-maya.k.francis

ps. don’t forget to check out our first entry on the Sean Bell incident from 2008, “Politrix: The Thin Blue Line”

pps. Since the closure of Bell’s case, another case of NYPD brutality, specifically Micheal Mineo who was anally raped, was dismissed in January. Do you feel safe?

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