When Will Black Lives Matter in America?

Irrational fear of brown skin rationalizes our oppression

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
4 min readMay 5, 2023
A Black man with long locs raps into a microphone outdoors, while wearing a black ball cap reading “Louder” and a white T-shirt reading “END WHITE SUPREMACY”.
Khafre Jay of Hip Hop for Change performs at a rally in Oakland, California. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Do you remember Bernhard Goetz?

On December 22, 1984, Bernhard Goetz shot four Black teenagers on a New York City subway train in response to one of them asking him for five dollars. Goetz had been robbed previously, and told the police “My intention was to murder them, to hurt them, to make them suffer as much as possible.” He also said that before shooting one of the teens, Darrell Cabey, a second time, he told him “You seem to be doing all right, here’s another.” The shot severed Cabey’s spine.¹

Goetz was acquitted of all charges of assault and attempted murder, and found guilty only of carrying an unlicensed firearm. Many people hailed him as a hero.

Two of those people were my white grandparents, who grew up in New York. I, then 14 years old, was sitting at their dinner table next to my Black mother while they defended this white man for attempting to kill people who looked like us. This upset me, and I said so. My mother, currying favor with my white father’s parents as usual, made only a feeble response.

Nearly 40 years later, on May 1, 2023, another Black man, Jordan Neely, was riding a New York City subway train. He was fed up with being homeless, hungry, and thirsty…