National Good Samaritan Day fell on March 13 and commemorates those who have helped a person in need. This year, March 13 also marked one year since Louisville police officers killed Breonna Taylor during a botched raid on her apartment.
And in 2020 former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on Memorial Day, when we honor Americans who died while serving in the U.S. military.
As an aspiring opinion writer, I’ve been taught to track such anniversaries because they are news pegs, an event that can be used as a reason to do a story that capitalizes on public attention.
But as a scholar of rhetoric and race, I have a competing perspective.
If the way people write and speak about the world creates a sense of good and bad, right and wrong, then the concept of tracking these tragedies is already complicit with what the writer and educator Simone Brown calls “the surveillance of Blackness” – the disproportionate monitoring and punishing of Black Americans.
Those stories routinize systemic violence through their repetition. It’s what the political philosopher Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil.”