Our own Raleigh Bureau columnist Barry Smith tackled this subject today. I know why. The talk on the Internet since the horrific slaying of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson has been more than troubling. The racial overtones are almost suffocating for any rational thinker.
But no offense to our Barry, the Raleigh News and Observer’s Barry Saunders says it better — and from a different perspective. Here’s what he wrote this morning, the day after two black men were charged in Carson’s killing.
By Barry Saunders
The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
Hey, wait a minute, pal. I didn’t kill anybody. Honest.
Ever since the black dude showed up on television in the hooded sweat shirt and tilted baseball cap profiling for the ATM camera — no, even before he showed up on television — trying to withdraw cash from Eve Carson’s account, I’ve been getting telephone calls and e-mail from people guaranteeing that her killer was black.
Now that two suspects have been charged in her killing, don’t expect the quality of Internet discourse to improve.
The people from whom I heard were equally confident that I was — as was every other black person in the Triangle — somehow responsible for her death and would ultimately pay the price for it.
One of the more thoughtful, responses I received to Carson’s death — we’re grading on a curve here, folks — referred to the baseball cap insignia: “Your bro Cool Papa Astro has set race relations, at least in the Triangle area, back 100 years.”
I knew that was coming.
That’s why most black people I know thought — no, prayed — that the person responsible wasn’t black. A lot of us won’t admit, even to ourselves, that we feel that way, but trust me. We do.
The violent death of anyone is tragic and diminishes us all, although the impact is usually most profoundly felt among friends and family members.
Eve Carson’s death was a loss that will reverberate throughout society because of the good she won’t be able to accomplish. A person that young who had already had such a positive impact on her world, as evidenced by the thousands of students who gathered at the campus vigil in her honor, could over time have had an immeasurable impact on the larger world.
The people suspected in her death are black, but they represent all black people about as much as Timothy McVeigh or those Columbine killers represent all white people — which is to say not at all.
Evil is not race-specific.
If they represent anything, they represent our failure as a society, but mostly as a black society, to adequately address the problem of young black dudes who’ve seemingly bought into the predatory gangsta lifestyle romanticized in some rap music and videos.
Don’t look at me like that. It’s no secret that a disproportionately high percentage of crimes is committed by young black males. That’s something we all have an obligation to address because, guess what, they sometimes venture forth from their own blighted neighborhoods into idealized slices of heaven such as Chapel Hill.
You know what would be sad? And ironic? If my letter-writer was right and Carson’s death led to a widening of the racial chasm in the Triangle.
By all accounts, she was a person who treated everyone well, from the Tar Heel basketball star to the lowly freshman science nerd. Believe me, 5,000 people don’t show up at vigils for peers who led self-involved, cliquish lives.
A black woman interviewed on television as she entered the church for Eve’s funeral said Eve and she were best friends from high school. At her funeral, I saw blacks and whites grieving her loss, none as much as one brother whose whole body heaved with each heartbroken sob.
Eve Carson won’t get to fulfill the promise her past only hinted at, but her legacy would be tarnished if ultimate blame for her death were attributed to anyone but the misanthrope who actually pulled the trigger.
There’s really nothing I can add to that. Thanks Barry — both of you.