A video of a young Black man, Will Stack, testifying about his recent traffic stop in Lexington County has now gone viral, especially in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed Black veteran, Walter Scott.
Stack saw it appropriate to record his feelings after a routine, mundane traffic stop by a “Caucasian” officer as an “African African” man. Stack saw it appropriate to point out, fully aware of the Scott incident, that he was in the wrong and he “was about [his] way” after the incident, according to an WIS Television article. He concluded the 2:10 video with color-blind politics and the uncritical, watercolor statement “God doesn’t see color, why should we?”
His privilege to life after an encounter with a police officer while so many cannot say the same is a victory. Any time a Black person is allowed to go “about [their] way” is a blessing in itself. But Stack’s lack of consideration and attempt to erase the narrative of so many others who look like him and will never be allowed to make a video again is an act of violence.
We speak their names:
Manuel Loggins Jr.
Stack’s life is valuable, but it should not be recognized more than the lives on this grossly abbreviated list of slain Black people. His account should not be the voice of the Black experience, yet it will definitely play a part in the erasure of these names, and the list of names we will never speak.
Stack’s attempt to humanize the police officers is understandable in this time of great discomfort for our country, but the videos of Eric Garner and now Walter Scott will forever be the cultural memory of millennials during this Ferguson moment. The negative reactions received on social media can be interpreted as deeply felt hurt by those who have lost as the result of state violence. The positive reactions show that people want peace, but they do the work of silencing those making radical efforts to create a society where the traffic stops described by Stack are always the case.
The language and phrases that Stack uses in the video are chilling, and hint at his own contradicting beliefs in this fair, utopian society he purports to live in.
Stacks states, “I made sure my hands were on the steering wheel. I made sure to speak politely, as I always do.”
I hear, I know my body is always seen as a threat so I put my hands on the steering wheel to avoid gunshots to my person. I code-switch, so the officer knows that I am not like the stereotypes he is socialized to associate me with.
Stacks continues, “I sat there and I waited and I turned my music down.”
I remember the fate of Jordan Davis, a 17-year old murdered by 45-year old Michael Dunn after Davis refused to turn his music down at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012.
Stacks states, “…he gave me a warning and I was about my way. Not all officers are crooked or racist.”
I know this fact, and I still take into account those who are crooked and racist, and also those who try not to be crooked and racist but have implicit biases.
Stacks states, “Not all people that get arrested or tasered are innocent victims.”
I feel all people are worthy of life. Extrajudicial killings are not part of our current legal system and never should be. I did not know execution was excusable in any context.
Stacks concludes with, “See people as people… Ignorance has no color… God doesn’t see color, why should we?”
I hear ignorance. I hear ignorance of the acknowledgment that race is a social construct with material consequences that are dealt in blood. I hear the need to cover a serious problem in America that requires attention, care, love and nuance with a blanket statement that does violence to those who will never speak again.
Stacks is “color-blind,” but America is not.
Contact Mysia Anderson at mysia ‘at’ stanford.edu.