A white New York City police officer accused of killing a black Staten Island man with a chokehold has avoided indictment by a state grand jury. Time perhaps to read Edwidge Danticat, the celebrated Haitian-American writer.
Ferguson through her eyes is an especially fearsome symbol of much that is wrong with America. As she writes in The New Yorker, she has “seen police brutality up close.”
As she reminds us, she has knowledge of both Haiti and New York. “Both in Haiti, where I was born during a ruthless dictatorship, and in New York, where I migrated to a working-class, predominantly African-American and Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn at the age of twelve. In the Haiti of the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, the violence was overtly political. Government detractors were dragged out of their homes, imprisoned, beaten, or killed. Sometimes, their bodies were left out in the streets, in the hot sun, for hours or days, to intimidate neighbors.”
Ms Danticat draws a chilling picture of a state apparatus that cares little for the lives of its people. To the young Haitian immigrant, New York police’s intimidation of black youths was an ugly reminder of the very violence she and others had tried to leave behind. “… many of us had fled our countries to escape this kind of military or police aggression,” she writes.
They weren’t able to. Not fully.