VH1 Live host Marc Lamont Hill stopped by Democracy Now! to discuss the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two Black men who were fatally shot by police officers this week. Hill didn’t mince words, saying Castile and Sterling’s deaths confirm something we already knew: The United States has a deep-rooted white supremacy issue and views Black bodies as dangerous and disposable.
“What we’ve seen over the last 48 hours is just a reenactment of a very, very, very common American tradition of not only killing black bodies, but also, then going out and justifying the death by criminalizing the victim, by demonizing the victim, by marginalizing the victim and by constructing narratives about how and why they deserved what they got,” Hill told Democracy Now! hosts.
The 37-year-old Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond author expanded on this, noting that the first thing media outlets pointed out about Sterling was his criminal record (which was irrelevant to his shooting).
“Selling CDs is not a capital offense,” Hill said. “Neither is having a criminal record. And so, at that moment, the only question that should be asked is, did the police behave appropriately? And based on what we saw on the video, they did not. But somehow, we justify that certain people are worth saving, certain people are worth surviving and other people are not.”
Hill thinks the main issue is white people fearing Black people for the color of their skin.
“But, what happens is, when we see someone with Skittles and a hoodie and we decide that they’re dangerous, or we see someone with their hands up and we decide that they’re dangerous, or we see someone with CDs in their hand and we decide that they’re dangerous, we simply reinforce the idea that black bodies themselves are inherently dangerous, and then when we let them off as jurors, or as grand jurors, we ultimately normalize and codify irrational white supremacist fear of Black people,” Hill said.
So, how do we fix this injustice? Hill says it starts with eliminating the United States’ white supremacist mentality.
“We need fundamental changes in society,” Hill said. “Fundamentally, we have to, first of all, deal with the issue of white supremacy. This isn’t a issue of racism, this is an issue of white supremacy. We live in a world where we simply believe that white lives are worth more, and that Black lives aren’t worth much. And because of that, even the most well-meaning cop looks at a Black body and still may have a bias.”
Woke AF. Watch Hill’s interview in full in the video above.