The Probability and Possibility of Race and Racism in America

So here we are in the midst of another police shooting of an unarmed Black person in America.

In case you haven’t heard, Jordan Edwards was laid to rest after dying from a gunshot wound to the head. That kill shot came from the rifle barrel of Roy Oliver, a White policeman. This all happened in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas. A review of the body cam footage led to Oliver being quickly fired and charged with murder.

For Blacks, these chain of events represent the latest of another unarmed Black person being shot to death by the police. Whites summarize this death as a tragedy that had nothing to do with race. I have even been told by White people  (friends, blog responders) that this tragedy could have easily happened to a White child.

The only way to make sense of these reactions by looking at race and racism through the lens of possibility and probability.

The dictionary defines probable as “likely to happen, to exist or to be true”. Possible, on the other hand, means “that which might exist or happen but is not certain to” Whereas probable implies a very high chance of something occurring, possible denotes that something may or may not happen. There’s just not certainty of outcome.

These two terms aptly explain race in America. Throughout history, Whites have consistently experienced the probability of racial advantage.  In other words, Whites do not consistently experience stress and strain that is attributed to their race.

This likelihood is not the same for Blacks. Because history has shown the consistent probability of racial disadvantage for Black people. This means that Blacks are seldom, if ever, able to consistently avoid racial stress and strain.

Without this logic, the main discussion points around the Jordan Edwards shooting will be on charges and conviction. Specifically, will those charges against the officer lead to a conviction? And will it take a conviction to change the deadly ways in which law enforcement deals with Blacks?

But with this logic comes the expansion of the discussion to these pivotal questions:

  1. Is the probability of a White cop shooting into a car full of Black boys driving away from a scene higher than the possibility of a White cop NOT shooting into a car full of Black boys driving away from a scene?
  2. Is the probability of a White cop NOT shooting into a car full of White boys driving away from a scene higher than the possibility of a White cop shooting into a car full of White boys driving away from a scene?

Whether I’m right or wrong is not the point. The point here is that you learn how to critically analyze the probable and possible ways in which race and racism determines the life experiences of Black people and White people.

What is the probability and possibility of you agreeing with me?


We’re coming upon the 2-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Annette Bland.

Bland was an African American woman who traveled to Hempstead, Texas to start a job at her alma mater Prairie View A & M University. Bland was arrested by a state trooper for failing to use her signals to change lanes. Three days after her arrest, she was found hanging in her jail cell.

Since that time, millions of people have used the name Sandra Bland to spotlight the police brutality of Black Women. One of the most important voices of the #SayHerName Movement is Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal.

Reed-Veal has continued to speak out to preserve Sandra’s legacy and memory. In August of 2016, she commemorated the name Sandra Bland in a soul-stirring speech at the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.

And just this past week, she was in Austin, Texas to testify in support of the recently drafted Sandra Bland Act. The legislation pushes for law enforcement reform measures such as mental health awareness, racial profiling prevention, and de-escalation training for police officers.

Also considered in the bill is the requirement of magistrates to be quickly notified by county sheriff offices of possible mental illnesses of inmates.

During her testimony, Read Veal, the last of 35 testifiers on the bill, said, “I don’t hate police. I hate the fact that we do not understand that this is going on too long by those who have been charged to serve and protect us.”

It is so important for Sandra Bland’s mother to say her daughter’s name.

It is equally important for the Texas legislature to say Sandra Bland’s name into legislation.

This law would symbolize an official act of reformation of the ways in which black bodies are handled by law enforcement.

It would also show that “Liberty and Justice for All” is still a concept designed to protect all people.

So  in God’s name I pray that the name Sandra Bland becomes the name of a bill of equity, justice, and peace.