Yesterday was surreal. The first thing that happened in the morning was that I saw the news about Charles Kinsey, the Black man shot in the leg while in a state of complete compliance and surrender. He wasn’t the police’s target: they were aiming at his autistic patient, sitting curled up on the pavement, legs crossed, clutching a toy truck that is not only clearly visible as a toy truck but has been identified as such by the helpful Mr. Kinsey.
When the links first started popping up on Twitter and Facebook, I read “shot” and thought “killed”. When I caught a reference to Mr. Kinsey speaking to reporters, I was so relieved. And then I read what he said about it, and I started putting it together with a lot of the more brutal things that have come out through recordings of police: people on camera giving execution-style finishing shots or ignoring and withholding medical attention from a victim who is bleeding out on the ground, the rash of gun deaths ruled “suicides” involving fully restrained prisoners who had been checked for weapons, the recordings and eyewitness testimony involving captains and other officials issuing shoot-to-kill orders and advising their officers not to leave a victim alive to testify, etc.
And I wrote a series of tweets. I was conflicted beforehand and throughout, about the utility, necessity, and appropriateness of a white woman talking about the absolute callous disregard the police as an institution hold for Black lives and the deadly consequences this holds. I went ahead and did it because I thought the things I had to say did need to be said.
I’m not going to rehash it all here, as it’s all been said already. I storified the tweet thread, to make it easier to share and read. The reason I’m making this blog post is to describe what happened next, as the tweets have resonated so much and spread so far that many of the individual tweets have been retweeted over a thousand times, the rest several hundreds. I have gained more than 300 followers on Twitter, meaning that more than 10% of my current followers came along in the past 24 hours. My notifications are utterly flooded if I don’t keep them on the friends-only setting. The Twitter app on my phone crashes if I try to check them. I think I’m getting something like a hundred notifications a minute, almost 24 hours later.
I had been having an emotional week for personal (and, to some extent, physiological) reasons already. I was tired when I made those tweets. I was exhausted afterwards. I tried to have a normal wake day, but I didn’t make my status post and I didn’t even take my morning pills until 3:30 in the afternoon.
Because it needs to be said: none of this is a complaint about the attention. It was not my goal and when I realized my tweets were blowing up, I added a link to Black Lives Matter’s donation page to the end of the tweet thread rather than trying to profit off it myself. I suspect that there will be a net gain for me either way, whether I sought it or not, even as I kind of suspect a lot of the new followers will bounce within a few days. It’s just the nature of things.
This is not a complaint, but a report: what happened yesterday, why I didn’t make a status post, why there was no chapter draft. I don’t regret that my day was taken over by this. But for those who don’t do Twitter or don’t follow me there, I believed an explanation was in order.
Today, I’m going to do my level best to have an ordinary work day, trying not to get distracted by a still climbing follower count or people’s responses, which includes a growing amount of negative backlash by people who want to debate me using racist and erroneous assumptions about crime statistics, or who want to read my tweets as a generalization about all police as individual officers rather than statements about the police as an institution. Having my notifications set to “only people you follow” is all kinds of help there, though regrettably it means I’m likely missing attempts to contact me.
…well, I just wrote this paragraph about an ordinary work day, and then got a text about a family member and a medical emergency. I don’t know the nature or extent of it, and can’t guess what affect it will have. Ah, well. No one ever knows what the future will hold.