The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Jacob Blake shows the McCloskeys’ concern for ‘basic safety’ doesn’t apply to Black Americans

Patricia and Mark McCloskey speak Monday via video, on the first day of the Republican National Convention. (-/AFP/Getty Images)
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Watching the first night of the Republican National Convention was like watching the incoming signal from a parallel universe, an Earth 2 where reality is ignored and the make-believe society it boosts is riddled with fear and loathing. No one exemplified this more than Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

The St. Louis couple who brandished an assault rifle and pistol at Black Lives Matter demonstrators peacefully walking past their grand home in June intoned from the sunken place in a speech that rippled with white grievance. Leave it to Mrs. McCloskey to utter its most galling sentence. “When we don’t have basic safety and security in our communities,” she said in their recorded remarks, “we’ll never be free to build a brighter future for ourselves, for our children or for our country.”

If you wondered how the McCloskeys ended up on your screen, the message wasn’t aimed at you

Her words were galling because of the simultaneous reality of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday. Benjamin Crump, hired by the Blake family, pointed out that Blake’s three sons were in the car when a police officer fired seven shots into Blake’s back. McCloskey’s words were galling because of the reality faced by Black communities.

That sentiment behind the concern for “basic safety and security in our communities” doesn’t apply to African Americans. Rather than protect and serve, many Blacks feel that law enforcement treats their communities as occupied territory. And when they are outside their communities, they have been made to feel like insurgents in a land where they are not welcome.

All that concern for not being able to “be free to build a brighter future for ourselves, for our children or for our country” doesn’t extend to every Black family that must sit their children down for “the talk.” Tell that to Blake’s three children who witnessed their father being gunned down by police. Their sense of “basic safety and security” chipped away by the sound of seven shots. What “brighter future” do they have now?

The everyday trauma of being a black man in America

To listen to the McCloskeys, it doesn’t matter that Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her own home, Ahmaud Arbery was killed by vigilantes while jogging, Tamir Rice was killed while playing in a park across the street from his own home. The deadly list is endless, and it doesn’t even take into account all the living-while-Black “offenses” that leave African Americans without any sense of safety and security anywhere at any time.

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The vision of America presented by the McCloskeys and others at the Republican convention is foreboding and perilous. More frightening, that vision doesn’t really include anyone who looks like me. Despite the appearances of African Americans such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) touting the virtues of President Trump’s party, I know that my place in this iteration of the Republican Party’s vision of America is out of sight and out of mind.

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Videos of black men and women being killed by police or vigilantes may serve a role in bringing justice, but they also dehumanize black people. (Video: The Washington Post)

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