Once again a grand jury has failed to indict a police officer in the case of the death of an African American. In this case, Eric Garner was strangled to death in front of witnesses, some who provided video of the accused strangling Mr. Garner in an illegal chokehold. There is no other explanation for the failure to even take this and other cases of killings of Black men by police officers to trial than a society where the state is above the law, and members of marginalized communities can be killed with impunity.
The unending impunity for the killing of Black people in the United States has rightly led to an urgent and growing call for a society in which Black lives matter. Because even the most basic accountability, such as having a trial in the case of a killing, is no longer a given, it becomes even more difficult to ask and answer the questions necessary to create the social change that would prevent these ongoing deaths.
While the solutions may be manifold, the structural racism fueled by a failure to ensure human dignity and economic and social rights is, without doubt, a significant part of the root cause of our current crisis. In a society that creates dignified jobs with empowered workers, sustainable and healthy communities, a quality education for all, and a strong foundation of public goods to enable social well-being, the kind of harsh violence and aggression that has been manifest over and over again against the Black community would be much harder to imagine.