Renisha McBride’s killer, Theodore Wafer, explained to a grand jury that when he saw the 19-year-old approach his porch, he was hit with the feeling,“I was not going to cower. I didn’t want to be a victim in my own house.” To many, her death at his hands was not an act of courage, but a reminder of how little compassion some hold for their fellow man — particularly in the context of a white man spotting a Black teenage young woman in distress and assume the absolute worst of her. Fortunately, a jury has not aligned themselves with Wafer’s way of handling of the situation, rightfully convicting the 55-year-old man of murder.
Wafer faces life in prison, though it is expected that his actual sentence may be far less shorter. Whatever the case, it is a victory not only for Renisha McBride’s family, but for every person of color in this country who continues to witness how little regard so many have towards our lives. We’ve seen this most recently with the killing of Eric Garner by a member of the New York Police Department, but for those who sought #JusticeForRenisha, the case echoed the George Zimmerman trial.
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Much like Zimmerman’s defense team tried to vilify Trayvon Martin, Wafer’s defense team sought to show the jury cellphone pictures where Renisha was seen posing with guns, cash, and weed. Thankfully, Judge Dana Hathaway, denied that request on the basis that “nothing in the photographs that establishes a reputation for violent or aggressive behavior.” Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, explained to reporters that their defense strategy was centered on convincing the jury that “she could have been up to no good.”
As Syretta McFadden noted in a piece for The Guardian, “It’s a common defense strategy – America will readily embrace the narrative of the inherent criminality of black kids – and it’s common because these shootings are increasingly common.”
Common and consistently racist, vile, and overall despicable.
Whatever Wafer thought of Renisha, he did not need to get his gun. He did not need to shoot her in the face. He certainly did not have to refer to Renisha as an “IT” after he murdered her. It would be later in the trial when his own life was at risk that Wafer realized the ramifications of his choice, lamenting to the jury,”So devastating … this poor girl. She had her whole life in front of her. I took that from her.”
So he did, and for that, his life should no longer be his.
As happy as I am that Renisha McBrie found justice, I can’t help but worry who’s next. What other Black person will find themselves dead on the ground for seeking help while being Black, playing their music too loud for being Black, for committing petty crimes for being Black, and for seeking help from the wrong person while being Black. Likewise, I’m frightened at how little value our Black lives mean to the larger society. And while not everyone is as bad as Theodore Wafer, there is still bad in many.
Look no further than a tweet from the Associated Press about the jury’s verdict, which reads “MORE: Suburban Detroit homeowner convicted of second-degree murder for killing woman who showed up drunk on porch.”
RELATED: Black Twitter Takes Wire Service To Task For Insensitive Renisha McBride Tweet (The Urban Daily)
Context matters and this undoubtedly points to a lack of respect for Renisha and a biased assessment of the situation. Even if you deem it as merely a sensationalized headline to garner attention, it’s still totally and utterly despicable.
And yet, as one friend reminded me, “F*ck them. My Black life matters today.” Indeed, it does. Now, to continue on with making sure they continue to matter.