A year ago today two of Ann Arbor’s finest kicked down the door to the home of an alleged police informant and within ten seconds had tased and also shot his girlfriend, Aura Rain Rosser, in the heart.
For this white writer, the intervening 364 days have brought relentless revelation and rage. In honor of Aura, without any editing, and in no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve learned:
—I’ve learned that there is no substantive difference between the racist vitriol of your average MLive commenter, and the apathy of your average Burns Park resident.
—I’ve learned there is a mathematical relationship between how many decent white people refuse to support movements for Black liberation, and how many white cops kill Black subjects with impunity.
—I’ve learned that County Prosecutor Brian Mackie is just a police chief without a badge, and if you call him out for repeatedly condoning police murder, he’s going to accuse you of profiting off the race card. I’ve learned how the only ones profiting off the murder of Aura Rosser are local law enforcement agencies, MLive, and the ICPJ.
—I’ve learned that when a Black man walks into a posh downtown Ann Arbor restaurant filled with white diners, many of them need to ogle him for several seconds before turning back to their meat and mediocre wine.
—I’ve learned that well-meaning white liberal mayors, councilpersons, and bloggers feel that most Black civilians killed by cops are probably responsible for their own deaths, but what a pity it is anyway.
—I’ve learned that racist City Attorneys become revenge artists when crossed.
—I’ve learned that judges will flash their judge cards when pulled over shitfaced, and even though there’s dope in the vehicle, they’ll be back on the bench in a few months, continuing to the throw the entire book at Black citizens as well as their fellow Black judges. These white judges tend to live in places like Saline.
—I’ve learned that if you’re Black you probably need to walk very mindfully through Saline and Chelsea.
—I’ve learned that if you’re Black it probably behooves you to walk very purposefully through Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Dexter.
—I’ve learned that if you’re a white football player at the University of Michigan, you can probably drug and rape just about anyone.
—I’ve learned that the main difference between the whites of 1915 and whites of 2015 is cameras.
—I’ve learned that if you’re CEO of McKinley properties, you profit immensely off people of color while also acting as if you despise them. I’ve also learned there’s maybe a relationship between this power and the fact that the police department of the Township in which you’ve situated many of your properties is reputed by people of color to be the cruelest and most vehement in the county. And I’ve learned that the racist founder of McKinley is not only an officer of the Victors for Michigan fundraising committee, but is also the engineer of right-to-work in Michigan, which suggests that in addition to despising Black people he despises organized workers, but enjoys organizing rich whites.
—I’ve learned that many university professors believe their contribution to social movements is in the classroom, while organizing in the streets and neighborhoods offers no way to pad a CV or grow cultural capital.
—I’ve learned that neighbors I did not previously know, support this movement against racist policing and when they tell me so I choke up.
—I’ve learned that many people in the county have heard of Aura Rosser.
—I now hear sirens several times every day.
—I’ve learned that my own self is still infected with implicit bias.
—I’ve learned that “All lives matter” usually means “Shut the fuck up.”
—I’ve learned that whites of little means also don’t trust cops.
—I’ve learned that her murder wasn’t the first time Aura Rosser had been abused by men with power.
—I’ve learned definitively that it’s men with power who do the most harm in this world, and if they’ve got a badge, a lectern, or a plush office, it’s a safe bet that a proneness to abuse is in their genes.
—I’ve learned that I actually didn’t understand the concept of bravery until I’d met some young Black activists.
—I’ve learned there are security cameras on everything.
—I’ve learned that a nice meal at Mani adds another couple hours to the sentence of anyone incarcerated in Michigan.
—I’ve learned elected officials in Ann Arbor want to relocate an old house onto Liberty Plaza as a way to keep Black people from hanging out there.
—I’ve learned that liberal non-profits are like county jails, but with less well-paid workers.
—I’ve learned that my priorities had always been skewed unwittingly towards self-preservation, and how what feels wonderful is to skew them towards the preservation of others.
—I’ve learned that UMMA is a mausoleum, but some street art in Ann Arbor is pretty fine.
—I’ve learned that many friends are outraged by the idea of hired marksmen shooting deer, but are less moved by cops shooting Black people.
—I’ve learned that avant-garde is French for well-fed.
—I’ve learned that Fuck the Police is English for Hallelujah.
—I’ve learned that many white people horde their money.
—I’ve learned that Aura Rain Rosser has changed Ann Arbor forever.