walter wallace

Walter Wallace Jr. would still be alive if he were white

When I watched the video of Walter Wallace Jr., 27, being gunned down by two Philadelphia police officers on Monday, I was overcome by sadness and rage. Then a sense of calm certainty overtook those roiling emotions, because I was sure of one thing.

This would not have happened if Walter Wallace Jr. were white.

My assuredness was not based on statistics, though Black men are vastly overrepresented among those who are killed by police. It was not based on identity politics, though I am as Black as they come.

My firm opinion that a white man in mental health crisis would not have suffered Wallace’s fate was based on the fact that in America, police give white men the benefit of the doubt. That’s true when white men are armed, like the bat-wielding white vigilantes in Fishtown who assaulted people in the wake of the George Floyd protests. It is true when they are white supremacists, like Dylann Roof, who was taken to Burger King by police after killing nine African Americans. It is true when they are mentally ill, like James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 70 at a movie premiere and was taken alive by police.

Click here to read my complete column on

Photo by: Love story chapel

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