The grainy pictures speak for themselves. Or so thought many Americans who watched the video of the March 3rd, 1991, beating of motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.
For James Baldwin (1924-1987), the fundamental premises of American society needed revisiting. How we might view #BlackLivesMatter through his lens.
We should acknowledge and absorb the pain captured in videos of police violence, just as antiracist activists bore witness in the past to lynchings.
When we have the choice to look, we are bound ethically and politically to what we witness and what we do with what we have seen.