Package bombs in Austin put a city on edge and stoke fears, memories of racial violence

Both House and the slain teenager are relatives of prominent members of Austin’s African-American community, The Washington Post reported. House was the stepson of Freddie Dixon, a former pastor at a historic black church in Austin, the Post said. Dixon is friends with the grandfather of the teen who was killed Monday, according to the newspaper.

Here’s the latest police press briefing and what they know so far:

We know that police officers require time to find a suspect, do their due diligence to establish motive, and determine whether or not the motive was race-based. But in spite of these unknowns, for people of color, especially blacks, we cannot help but feel a visceral fear when something like this happens. For many of us, these incidents are not experienced separately from the memories of a long history of racial terror and violence that has been enacted upon us in America for centuries. While there are plenty of examples to draw from which took place all across the country, the American South triggers a particular reaction because of the nature of the violence and its prolonged length. Lynchings, sexual assaults, cross burnings, and, of course, bombings were a hallmark of the particular kind of white supremacy characterized by slavery, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era.

We can be certain now that while an Obama presidency lured some into thinking we are a post-racial society, we have failed to address the deep and insidious racism in our country. And with Donald Trump now in the White House and hate crimes on the rise since he began his political career, it’s hard not to feel targeted for your race in general, never mind when these kind of inexplicable acts of violence occur. Donald Trump is not the cause of white supremacy and racial terror against people of color. But he certainly is a symptom. 

Speaking of Donald Trump, are you wondering what’s he had to say about these bombings? If you are guessing nothing, you’d be right. Trump has been too busy spouting nonsense all day and making a joke of our democracy. But imagine if the victims of these incidents were white. How long do you think he would have waited to tweet out another call for a Muslim ban or some other kind of xenophobic, racist garbage? Faster than you can say “terrorism”, no doubt.

So, really, you can’t blame people of color, in particular, for feeling frightened and in danger. Every day in this country is a struggle, but every day that we live under this presidency is filled with terror and dread because we know what we are up against. But this isn’t only about us. Sadly, because Donald Trump cares nothing about anyone except himself and his tiny base, the rest of the country is going to be routinely put through a similar sense of terror and dread every day. And it won’t start to get any better until he’s removed from office for good. 

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