How Much Is a Black Life Worth?

When Philando Castile's settlement popped up on my newsfeed, I had one question. How much is .a black life worth? If no one is at fault, why are they receiving any money.

I am from rural Southern, Virginia. It's possible that my great-great-grandfather and mother were sold in Emporia, Richmond, or Lynchburg. I wonder how much their black bodies were worth to those who sought to dehumanize them with each bid on the auction block. My people aren't traded anymore, at least not in plain sight. But it seems there is a different system at work where people of color and European Americans who are poor can be killed, their murderers dismissed or put on leave, and then a price tag ascribed to the act of killing. This is the cost of protecting the system.

It cost $50,000 to kill Cecil the Lion. And Harambe was killed for someone getting into his cage. It's not easy for me to think of myself and my brothers and sisters as more than animals. The outrage when these animals died outweighed any outrage for Sandra Bland. It's hard not to feel insignificant when we are converted into hashtags that are no longer trending.

Charleena Lyles was killed because she asked for help. The officer's fear and the system's maintenance is more important than her life and the lives of her children. When Cecil the Lion was killed, we demanded a country prosecute that lion's killer. But instead of indicting individuals, we write checks to protect our officers and institutions.

So I guess if an officer fears for his life when I'm pulled over or enters my home because I called for help and I am killed, an insurance company will write my wife a check for at least $3 Million a few years later. And since Chicago has paid $662 million in police misconduct settlements since 2004, I guess black lives are not worth more than that in Illinois.

Is there a budget set aside for police misconduct more appropriately called murder, abuse, sexual assault and neglect? I'm sure that insurance companies and risk management lawyers have equations and different plans that our city, state and federal governments purchase. I wonder what cities pay the highest premiums to be protected from financial responsibility for killed people who look like me. I wonder but I really don't want to know.

Lord have mercy.

God of all comfort, comfort we who mourn. Deliver we who are afflicted. Silence the voice of the accuser and bring us perfect peace. We who are made in Your image receive your invitation into Your family and wait patiently for Your return when we can go home. Amen.

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