Botham Jean was the perfect nigga.
He was an educated, well-mannered, well-dressed black man without a Jaywalking citation attached to his name. And even though the media and white America, in general, searched high and low for imperfections, none were found. (And yes, I know they tried to cite and focus on less than an ounce of weed found in his apartment as a flaw, but that is not a fucking flaw. If anything, it’s a positive, but I digress) No flaws were found because Botham Jean knew that any imperfections found on a black man, a black immigrant, in a white America was a great risk to both his mental and physical well-being. Botham Jean was the perfect immigrant from the beautiful St. Lucia, a perfect college graduate from Harding University in Arkansas, and a soon to be perfect accountant in Dallas, Texas. And just to add to his perfection, he was a well-behaved son any parent would be proud of, a worship leader, and a volunteer who loved life, and sought to perfect life in multiple avenues.
And yet, “they” shot him, anyway.
And when I mean “they,” I’m not just referring to Trigger Happy Becky. See, Trigger Happy Becky is a product of what the system taught her, which is to fear the black man, even the perfect ones. “They” taught Trigger Happy Becky a crippling paranoia that the black man is inherently violent and will violently hurt her without remorse and with a depraved heart. Tripper Happy Becky’s natural instincts kicked in when she saw this perfect nigga residing in his apartment. Her instinct to kill or be killed was the only option because running away—which would’ve given her a chance to dissect that this “inherently dangerous black man” wasn’t in her apartment nor was he inherently dangerous—was not an option. Running away to get help wasn’t an option, either. It was her vs the threat, the threat of an imperfect black man, no matter how perfect he was.
Trigger Happy Becky’s paranoia derives from years of stereotypical propaganda fed to her by white America and white America’s tools. These tools include police academy’s, Fox News, the local news, schools, textbooks, Trump and nem and old wives’ tales, just to name a few. However, what those tools Trigger Happy Beck probably calls resources didn’t teach her was about the unfair treatment of blacks in America, including (and especially) the over-policing of African Americans. As the past few years have shown, the “bad guys” are often presumed to be black. For example, I’m willing to bet Trigger Happy Becky’s studies didn’t teach her that even though black people make up only 13% of the population, 31% of people killed by police in 2012 were black. That figure, which dropped to 25% in 2017, remains highly disproportionate. If Trigger Happy Becky would’ve been taught the true, disturbing history of this country, then she would’ve known that over policing dates back to slave patrols and Jim Crow laws, which were implemented and carried out by systemic authoritative bodies designed to keep black folks “in check.” In the slave patrol days, members of slave patrols could forcefully enter anyone’s home (sound familiar?), regardless of their race or ethnicity, based on suspicions that they were sheltering people who had escaped bondage.
While Trigger Happy Becky was training to inevitably over police black folks, I’m also sure she missed a Stanford University research study that analyzed data collected between 2011 and 2017 from nearly 100 million traffic stops to look for evidence of systemic racial profiling. In this study, the research team found that black drivers were more likely to be pulled over and to have their cars searched than white drivers. They also found that the percentage of black drivers being stopped by police dropped after dark when a driver’s complexion is harder to see from outside the vehicle. Black America, regardless of nationality, lives in a constant state of fear. The data on over policing is irrefutable, at this point, yet nothing in the arenas that matter the most is being done about it.
Botham’s perfections were futile against the rage of white supremacy that blinded Trigger Happy Becky that night. This rage didn’t allow Trigger Happy Becky to properly access her situation. If white supremacy and white indoctrination wouldn’t have taken over, then maybe Botham’s perfect life would’ve continued without a blemish, while occasionally reciting the story of how “a crazy white chick mistakenly walked into my apartment a couple of years ago.” This story would’ve received a few laughs among his fellow intoxicated friends, as they drink the night away, telling odd stories about odd encounters. But Trigger Happy Becky didn’t allow this odd encounter to end with a benign conclusion that should’ve led to her returning to her rightfully assigned apartment and him returning to his perfect life. Tigger Happy Becky decided to take matters into her own hands, which cut Botham’s perfect life short.
Trigger Happy Becky, along with Trigger Happy Becky’s racism killed Botham Jean and Botham Jean’s perfect life. And as we drink her guilty white tears, I’ve come to realization that I’m still thirsty, because her tears and conviction ain’t enough.