Some people in the community have wondered why people in the so-called Black community seem more outraged by the
Zimmerman acquittal Wilson non-indictment (or Garner choke-hold non-indictment), when in places like Chicago, young teens are murdered more often. That is not an outrageous question first off. It is natural to wonder why this outrage seems misplaced. Still, let me remind you that many in the community have been equally outraged by senseless violence in the inner-city as well all along. Those conversations however, are mostly internal and would not take the notice of those not concerned with matters about the inner-city. So on one hand, those criticizing the sense of outrage simply may have not paid attention to those types of discussions. I for one, can say that these conversations go on in forums and Facebook pages everyday regardless of the Trayvon Martin murder case Mike Brown homicide case (Eric Garner choke-hold case).
Still, the amount of added attention a case like this gets is due to another phenomenon altogether. I studied this principle in business management courses. It’s called Equity Theory. This is a perception that motivates workers to perform based on the knowledge or perception that they are being treated equally with others. When other people are perceived to gain rewards unfairly or indiscriminately, they feel slighted. This perception of unequal treatment causes more passion and anger than a normal slight because the perception of equality is also at stake.
A few words associated with this theory that are important to note are underreward, overreward, distributive and procedural justice. When someone feels that their reward is not proportionate to the input they contributed, they feel underrewarded. When someone is overcompensated for their input, they feel guilt at some point due to being overrewarded. The author of the book, Effective Management, Chuck Williams notes that
it takes much longer for someone who is overcompensated to feel guilt than someone who feels slighted and underrewarded.
Therefore people on the short-end will naturally feel it before those who benefited from the action.
Distributive and procedural justice deals with the perception of the process by which the outcomes are distributed fairly and the procedures used to make the reward allocation. In other words if a person perceives the system of allocation or the allocations themselves to be unfair they will feel slighted. So while “Black folks” don’t feel as slighted by the unjust system of laws which excessively incarcerate other “Blacks” for crimes against each other, the difference in justice dealt to people of other “races” against “Blacks” will be readily seen. This is normal for the human psyche according to psychologists. There is no perceived injustice when “Black on Black crime” occurs. It is only when “White on Black crime” occurs that a difference in the procedural justice can be seen.
The feeling which caused some to protest and march against this perceived inequality in the
George Zimmerman not guilty verdict, (Michael Brown/Eric Garner/ John Crawford etc.) is the same perception of outrage felt by many “Whites” who observed the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The outrage at O.J.’s acquittal can be seen as misplaced when compared to the amount of response from the “White” community in the Casey Anthony murder acquittal in 2012.
It’s not about why “Blacks” were outraged about Darren Wilson’s acquittal. Why was there no outrage from the “White” community when a mother was acquitted of killing her own child and lying to police and the court to cover her tracks?
It is for the same reason. There is no perceived inequity in the outcome which would inflame anger. There may also be some guilt which is being expressed by those who choose not to understand this feeling in the “Black” community. And as stated earlier it takes longer for those who feel guilty to respond to it. The expressed confusion and claims that “This case is not about race!’ when it clearly is, is almost childish in its naivete. The intellectual dishonesty in those statements by some show boldfaced guilt akin to the kids Al Sharpton referred to, who claimed they didn’t eat any pie with blueberries all over their face.
Lastly, it is noteworthy to mention that the mainstream “White” community’s quick-found deep embrace of the extreme acts of weak-wristed cowardice, was astonishing. Words almost can’t describe how perfect the match between coward and racist was blended with the ‘no indictments’ of Wilson and Pantaleo in November and December of 2014. It was one heck of a ‘Thank You!’ to all African descended Americans living in the United States. It is a message that clearly states that when the police state comes (and it already has), the cowards will side with the police.