“What Was He Even Doing Over There?”

It’s like this. If I accidentally hit you in the nose with my elbow, you should, even if it was completely an accident, have the assurance that bystanders and investigators are going to seriously consider that I hit you on purpose or that I was in some way at fault. That possibility should be entertained and then evidence for and against that possibility weighed and either accepted or dismissed. Your physical characteristics (with the exception, in this case, of maybe the size of your nose–since someone with a really tiny nose might argue that my chances of hitting it by accident are very slim and someone with a large nose might find you’re often getting hit in it by accident) shouldn’t be a factor in whether you get a neutral investigation into what happened to you.

But, if I know, say, that North Nashville is predominately black and I know you are black and I hit you in the nose, say, at Noshville, what am I to make of the fact that people keep asking me why you were even at Noshville in the first place?

Even if no one surrounding the investigation or the fall-out of the investigation ever mentions you’re black, isn’t it weird that they keep asking me why you were in Noshville? Like, what purposed does that question serve. I don’t know you. I only met you because of this accident. And there are a million reasons you might be in Noshville–lunch, job, meet up with friends, whatever. What does it matter? It’s not like you were trolling through Noshville looking to put your nose in the elbow-line of me. So, why am I being asked this question?

Is it because the question is supposed to tell me something? To reassure me that, since I was where I had a right to be and you might not have been, I can rest assured that no one is going to look that closely into what happened? I think that’s it. That I’m supposed to hear that question and kind of know that everything’s going to be okay for me. Now, it’s weird, because I’m fairly certain that I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t actually need the assurance that everything’s going to go okay for me, because I have the truth on my side.

But how many times do I go back and stare at the place where I hit you? How many times do I look at that place and reassure myself that it went down just how I remember it? And I think I’m right. It was just an accident. But maybe I’m growing unsettled about how quickly that doesn’t seem to matter. The further we get away from it, the more people I have to talk to who weren’t there, the more I hear that question, the more I worry that someone like me could have straight-up punched you in the nose and he might still be getting asked why you were even in Noshville.

And, if only I, the person who hurt you, seems to care about you getting treated fairly, how are you going to get treated fairly?

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4 thoughts on ““What Was He Even Doing Over There?”

  1. I guess I should add, in this instance, that your address means that, even when you’re not present, when I have to deal with people about the situation and they see your address on the paperwork, they can be fairly certain that you’re black.

  2. Oooh, I see (dirt marbles! just kidding). I could not make the connection for some reason when I read this earlier, and was dying of curiosity. Hope everyone is doing okay, re: the thing.

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