Sophia A. Nelson on the Demonization of Michael Brown

The casket of Michael Brown sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on Aug. 25, 2014, in St. Louis.  ROBERT COHEN-POOL/GETTY IMAGES
The casket of Michael Brown sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on Aug. 25, 2014, in St. Louis.
ROBERT COHEN-POOL/GETTY IMAGES

For Michael Brown, the stereotypes that Darren Wilson believed proved to be deadly.Stereotypes are dangerous. And for Michael Brown, they proved to be deadly.

Of all that we heard Monday night about the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Brown, what kept me awake for hours after the announcement was made was Wilson’s testimony.

Testimony in which Wilson said that Brown “had the most intense, aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon; that’s how angry he looked.”

It was rife with imagery that dates back hundreds of years as it relates to how white men often perceive black men. His use of vivid language, describing Brown like “Hulk Hogan” while describing himself, in comparison, like a small child holding on for dear life, is troubling. This is the power and danger of racial “stereotypes.”

When we believe that another human being is, in fact, not human, we remove ourselves from how we treat, and entreat, them. We justify prejudices. We justify disrespect. We justify dehumanization in ways that can, and often do, lead to tragedy.

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Source: The Root | 

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