Breonna Taylor is dead. She is one more soul in a large and ever-growing constellation of black lives that have been prematurely extinguished by white-made systems. Today, the lethal actions of her executioners, three Louisville police officers, were deemed “justified.” Just like that, another devastating, yet highly probable and predictable outcome has traumatized our black relatives.
Alongside my black friends and colleagues, I’m outraged. Yet the heaviness and hopelessness that I feel in the moment is nothing compared to the chasm of despair that they find themselves within. In multiple text threads, I’m learning of the impact on our black community when the impunity of another black murder-by-cop is flaunted in their direction. They feel this deeply as with each non-indictment the price of their blood grows cheaper. They understand the slave-patrol roots of our law enforcement and recognize that cops get away with murdering black folk because that is exactly what the system was designed to do.
Our black family is suffering as the awareness of the system that oppresses them became more acute today.
On the other hand, so many of my white relatives have been able to navigate our day completely unimpacted by what just transpired in Louisville. If we even knew her name, many of us reason that police were justified in their use of lethal force. With familiar justifications, we offered our not-guilty verdicts of the three Louisville cops months ago and moved on. As a matter of fact, many of us feel safer today because the authority of our policing system was upheld again by a legal system designed to do just that.
While our black family is suffering, our white family is…indifferent? Relieved? Many remain blissfully ignorant of the system that is traumatizing our black relatives and lived today unimpacted by the ruling in Louisville.
In Chapter five of D’Souza & Renner’s Not Knowing, the authors reflect on the initial critiques they received based on a misunderstanding of their concept of “Not Knowing.” Rather than “not knowing” being equated with ignorance, D’Souza and Renner are inviting us to consider the concept to be a portal into an awakening. Not knowing is an invitation to learn and “a choice to open up to new experiences.”
I appreciate the authors’ distinction and recognize the transformative opportunities and expanded wonder connected to not knowing.
That said, one individual leveled the following critique that struck me today. The individual said, “I don’t see any benefit in ignorance.”
While at face level, I agree. There is little to no benefit in ignorance. Yet, based on my experience today of the despair of many of my black friends and the indifference of many of my white friends, I might argue that there are benefits to ignorance. With ignorance comes permission not to feel…not to be undone (again)…not to suffer alongside cherished image-bearers. When I am ignorant, I do not have to bear a cost in order that the killing with impunity and the dying without justice ceases.
No. Never mind.
As I write this nonsense, I recognize that ignorance is void of any benefit. Instead, the great tragedy of ignorance is that it encourages me to be less human.
 D’Souza & Renner, 139.
 Ibid., 138.