Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I Will Remember Ricky Ray Rector

I've always been very proud of the fact that I came out in support of gay marriage before it was cool.   I have been correspondingly chagrined at my failure to speak out sooner and more vociferously about the shameful and systemic mistreatment of people of color, and black people in particular, in the U.S.  For what it's worth, I hereby confess my sins, acknowledge my white privilege, and announce my advocacy for reparations.  No, I never owned slaves.  None of my ancestors ever owned slaves.  But there is no question that I have received preferential treatment because of the color of my skin.  Cops don't harass me.  Prospective employers don't look at me sideways.  I have shared in an inheritance of wealth that was built in no small measure on the backs of of the forced labor of black people that the descendants of those laborers have not shared.  My undeserved share of that inheritance is in and of itself a wrong that needs to be set right, notwithstanding that I had no direct hand in bringing it about.

There.  I said it.

Now, as the first step in my atonement, I would like to bring to your attention a name that should be remembered alongside that of George Floyd and Breona Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin and the dozens and thousands of other black people who have been killed because they were black.  That name is Ricky Ray Rector.  His name is conspicuously absent from this web site despite the fact that he was killed by a white man because he was black.  The reason his name is almost completely unknown is because the man who killed him was Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, while he was governor of Arkansas and still a candidate for president.  Conservatives don't remember Ricky because they do not mourn his passing, and liberals don't remember him because the Clintons are as sacrosanct to them as Donald Trump is to conservatives.

Ironically, Donny and Billy have an awful lot in common.  Both are narcissists.  Both are rapists.  And, apparently, both are racists, or, at the very least, willing to play to a racist audience for political gain at the cost of innocent lives.  And, I must grudgingly concede, both are political geniuses for being somehow able to get black people to support them despite making a show of courting ant-black racist sentiment.

So as part of my penance I pledge to keep the memory of Ricky Ray Rector alive.  I will remember how he ordered pie for his last meal, and then didn't eat it because he wanted to save some of it for later.  I will remember how I supported Bill Clinton, the man who personally oversaw Ricky's execution despite the fact that Ricky was clearly not mentally competent because no one was gonna Willie-Horton him, God damn it.

I will remember these things.  I don't know if by remembering them I will sleep better or worse.  But I hope that by remembering them I will be able to look at myself in the mirror when the morning comes.