Dickson: 'Metro Detroit Killed Renisha McBride' With 'The Poison Of Racism'

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James David Dickson, commentary page editor of The Detroit News, has "faith that the right thing will happen in the end" as the legal system responds to the porch shooting death of Detroit teen Renisha McBride.

He's far less optimistic, though, about what he sees as "the poison of racism in Metro Detroit that killed Renisha McBride."

In a provocative blog post generating 18 comments by early afternoon Wednesday, Dickson -- an African-American -- notes that "a disappointing segment of white Metro Detroit has bent itself over backwards to come to the killer’s defense" in McBride's death in Dearborn Heights on Oct. 2 as the 19-year-old apparently sought help after a car crash.

When a white suburbanite kills one of Those People, surely she must have had it coming. . . .

With Detroit a short drive through Dearborn away, the psychic fear of people who live in Dearborn Heights is that everybody who comes to the door -- especially late at night, especially those who don’t appear to live in the neighborhood -- is there to do harm and has the means to. . . .

That same non-neighborly spirit is what possessed the man killed Renisha McBride. He didn’t know McBride personally, but he did know that some people who look like her and live a few miles away do bad things and that nobody wants to be the guy on the other side of it, shot dead in his own home because he opened the door at night for a stranger. He knew that by dint of living where he lived, in a white enclave near two dangerous black cities, that if a doorbell were to ring at 2 a.m., it had better not be because someone who looked like Renisha McBride was on the other side. He knew he had the shotgun in case of just such an event. . . .

The violence that claimed Renisha McBride is what happens when people in a region don’t know each other beyond caricatures formed from the evening news. We see each other not as people, but as skin colors, zip codes and crime statistics. This time the victim of those snap judgments was a black female teenager in Dearborn Heights. Next time it could be a white Red Wings fan from Eastpointe whose car breaks down on Gratiot.


Tenisha McBride's smashed her Ford Taurus into a parked car about three hours before her Oct. 2 death six blocks away. (WXYZ photo)

In one of seven tweets early Wednesday about his post, Dickson asks:

Are we willing to have an honest conversation about how we are not a post-racial nation?

On a partially brighter note, here's why he has confidence -- sort of -- about the law enforcement and judicial systems:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is a woman whose office twice prosecuted a Detroit man, Tigh Croff, who killed an actual intruder on his [Detroit] property [in 2009]. . . . She was willing to see the case through to the end, despite the fact that Croff actually had a sympathetic case. Renisha McBride’s killer won’t be getting off easy.

What will happen from there, if this case ever gets to a jury, will come down to the composition of that jury. White suburbanites who move to places like Dearborn Heights or Livonia so that they’ll never have to fear that late night knock on the door from the Renisha McBrides of the world (which is to say, black people, because that’s all that homeowner knew) may feel a kinship with the guy who didn’t just move to the suburbs, didn’t just arm his home, but actually used the gun.

Read more:  The Detroit News
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