“Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted,” the little girl told her mother, Diamond Reynolds, a woman who had just seen her boyfriend, Philando Castile, killed for no good reason.

The little girl’s pleading is the logical end to a respectability politics impressed upon black people even though it will never keep us safe. Black people have been told, repeatedly and over centuries, that if we are just a little better, dress a little better, study a little harder, be a bit more compliant and adopt more middle-class white values, we will be allowed to keep breathing.

Under no circumstances should we scare white people or make them, or others in positions of power, uncomfortable — because it would be unfair to those powerful people.

It’s why so many black parents have stressed to their children to make sure their hands are on the steering wheel, to remember to say yes sir and yes ma’am — just as Castile did before he was shot and Reynolds did as her boyfriend bled to death — to make no sudden movements, to make eye contact only if the officer wants them to make eye contact. Don’t worry about your supposedly constitutionally-protected rights, just survive, these parents have preached.

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In the Castile case, that teaching was turned on its head. While a squad car video camera captured the scene, the child delivered “The Talk” to the parent. She had just seen a police officer kill her mother’s boyfriend. She was there as her mother streamed the scene on Facebook Live to the world before being placed in handcuffs in the backseat of a squad car.

That little girl knew no one was coming to her rescue. The National Rifle Association surely wasn’t coming, even though Castile was a law-abiding citizen exercising his Second Amendment rights. If it wasn’t clear before, the NRA’s silence on the Castile case makes it crystal clear that the organization isn’t about preserving the right of all Americans to carry a gun, only white people’s.

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