It has been six months — half a year — since Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
It has been six months — half a year — since protesters shut down Old Concord Road, a stone’s throw from our University. The massive and impassioned protests that followed shook Charlotte’s establishment to its core and arguably changed the Queen City forever.
And yet Charlotte seems to have moved on, by and large. The Levine Museum of the New South’s KNOW JUSTICE, KNOW PEACE exhibit, currently on display in Uptown, serves to keep the Uprising in view and in conversation. But the Levine Museum’s exhibit runs against the grain in Uptown, where business and city hall stress a return to normalcy.
Normalcy makes capitalism run more effectively and more smoothly. Normalcy says things are okay as they are. Normalcy insists the system we have is a system that works, even if that is demonstrably untrue.
When the system is normalized, it continues to take the lives of people of color, including Josue Javier Diaz, killed by a CMPD officer in late January under disputed circumstances. On the days when the system doesn’t kill directly, it kills indirectly. Capitalism, the economic system that law enforcement exists to protect, is a system of exploitation that exploits the labor power of the working class every single day. The working class is disproportionately women, immigrants, youth, LGBTQ and people of color, the beneficiaries of that exploitation are overwhelmingly old, white, wealthy men.
Through a concerted effort of normalization, Charlotte gives the impression that it has moved on from the protests. Even if we don’t accept the dominant narrative of normalization, there is an undeniable continuity between police racism and repression in Charlotte before and after the Uprising. Law enforcement in this city still polices Black and Brown communities with impunity.
Just as undeniable, however, is a break, a disconnect. Charlotte continues to move on, but Charlotte will never be the same. I could make that argument — of Charlotte’s discontinuity — in political terms, but I think it exists on a much deeper level: family.
Anyone who has ever lost someone they loved knows that, after loss, time moves agonizingly slow. Six month without someone you love is a lifetime. Taking life is one kind of violence. Being forced to live after someone you love has been killed is quite another kind of violence.
Scott had seven children. Seven children had Scott as their father. Diaz had a family, too. It’s important to note that Charlotte has lapsed into complacency and its own destructive normalcy. But we must never forget those who loved Scott or Diaz are victims of an ongoing and permanent kind of theft, one that makes time grind to a halt.