"My grandmother's grandmother was a slave. I spent many years living with her. I wasn't consciously processing how slavery impacted her life - but my grandmother was open about her feelings towards white people. Slavery passed down a trauma to me that people outside the African-American community fail to understand. We're 'trained to go' in the Bay Area - a lot of Black families here came from the South - we react instinctively to being made to feel inferior."
In line with this, prison therapist, James Gilligan, has noted that at the base of most violent acts is a presence of a profound feeling of disrespect. People tend to commit violent acts when they feel disrespected, and they don't feel as though there is any other way to gain that respect back.
But this is a society that doesn't hesitate to disrespect the disadvantaged, whether the disadvantaged in question are the poor, people of color, individuals labeled by the state as criminals, or other vulnerable individuals or groups. Oftentimes, on the part of those most vulnerable, the attitude that violence is the answer doesn't seem that unreasonable.
One of the truly horrifying things about our race problem is the ever-present pressure of social and cultural judgment placed on communities of color. The West has established a great and persisting pointing finger of judgment which is always wagging condescendingly – and let's not forget fatally – at its targets of varying ethnicities.