By Hipolito Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
We don’t really know who was Slim before the “incident” and we get to know “Queen” through what she shares in an effort to de-escalate a typical situation for what we hope would be an atypical representation of cops, but we know better. Too much evidence of opportunistic, violent, racist’s peace officers are given too many chances to hurt those they hate and know they have the backing of a society that is willing to accept how they paint black folks and especially black men as menacing. Yes, we know there are many police officers who are very fair, but at times they are also part of a system that they do not challenge because the personal costs would be too much for them. In a world that needs to be corrected, we need personal integrity to guide our communal moral compass.
There are many racists beliefs that twisted people buy into in order to perpetrate horrific acts on black folks. Much of it starts with their excusing many of these convictions by excusing their thoughts with the all encompassing; “its just what I believe,” a comment that is supposed to give everyone a pause and allow for acceptance, and the infuriating part is that many do…. Emotions are not facts, and they are certainly not acceptable if they are meant for the justification of causing pain to others just because there is a certain amount of catharsis because of their life’s circumstance. The incident, gives us a very truthful and realistic account of what has been the experience of many black folks, and how fast the moment happens, but also how you can read the intention in the “peace officer’s” actions.
The story itself has a familiar hue, but it is definitely from the perspective of a community that has been targeted since the beginning of this country. Most folks are unaware of how law has been used as a tool to hurt the black folks and force them to submit to laws that many times were designed to subjugate them and violate their human rights. Read this horrific example of the Casual Killing Act 1669, “October 1669. Act I: An act about the casual killing of slaves. Whereas the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistress or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other than violent means suppressed, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or others by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be considered a felony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that malice existed(which alone makes murder a felony) [or that anything] should induce any man to destroy his own estate.”
This excerpt is part of the Virginia Slave Codes through which the violent subjugation of slaves was allowed and in many cases encourages as a lawful example of controlling and protecting the finances of the wealthy slave owners in Virginia. The incident is not so shocking once we see the history of the black community regardless of their ethnic background. Afro-Latinos are, in most cases, considered black first and subjected to debasement, sometimes at the hands of their own family. Stolen land, stolen labor and stolen history is not an isolated incident, it has been made law through law makers that continue to believe in their superiority and their privilege. What is happening now in the US is not an accident or a phase, its an institutionalized policy adjustment that is now being brought to light because of the abundance of social media. The national government can no longer operate in the dark and because of the public sector opportunities to employ all people, we are seeing a very slow moving change towards equity, engineered by many of those communities who were excluded in the past, to a behemoth that is used to destroying who it does not feel is subjugated to it.
“Queen and Slim,” is the story of a moment that has been repeated over and over in this country and is an important characterization that hopefully will help those who do not live these moments of terror, to feel the dehumanization of people who are just trying to live their lives, and also to make those who create these types of moments to be aware that their playbook is now for the general public to understand. Screenwriter Lena Waithe in a conversation with Trevor mentioned that her and director Melina Matsoukas, viewed many hours of these types of incidents and were surprised how quickly things were escalated by a police officer when they felt disrespected. When people of color ask their children to just be calm during a stop, it is not an action of acquiescence, it’s an action for survival. These stories are critical for one major reason, people must see all people as part of their human family, if that does not happen, these events will continue to happen and if these stories are not continually told, they will be a momentary reminder of what is happening, and then they will be disappeared. In stating ; “I’m writing my story so that others might see fragments of themselves,” Lena Waithe reminds us of the importance of these stories being told, and told by the people that have lived them. “Queen and Slim” is an instant classic because it tells a story from a different and often ignored and dismissed perspective.