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Stay away from Dearborn Heights.

Those were five unsettling words I remember as a teenager growing up in Detroit during the mid-1960’s. I was warned to steer clear of Dearborn Heights, an affluent, predominantly white Michigan suburb that had a region-wide reputation for not welcoming black folks to the neighborhood.

There were all kinds of rumors back then: White supremacists lived in Dearborn; black teenagers could get attacked while biking through the well-manicured neighborhoods; black men could get beat up just for glancing at a white girl; and white boys would yell the N-word at black pedestrians in the area.

But like most of my friends, I never ventured into Dearborn Heights, or nearby Dearborn, because I was black.

And it wasn’t just because of perception.

”City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,”’ David Good, a 54-year-old lifelong resident of Dearborn, told The New York Times in 1997.

As a teenager, I always heard that a black person could easily get shot just for passing through the Dearborn Heights city limits.

And that’s exactly what happened to 19-year-old Renisha McBride, an unarmed black woman from Detroit who was shot and killed while seeking help in Dearborn Heights after a car accident on Nov. 2.

“This was a young black woman in a neighborhood that is predominantly white,” LaToya Henry of the Detroit branch of the N.A.A.C.P. told The New York Times.

McBride’s family said they believe McBride was walking door-to-door looking for help after her car stalled and her cellphone died. They believe she was shot while walking from the suspect’s porch — and that she was racially profiled.

According to the U.S. Census, Dearborn Heights, a southwestern suburb of Detroit, is 86 percent white, and Dearborn, a neighboring city, is 89 percent white.

“You see a young black lady on your porch and you shoot?” Bernita Spinks, McBride’s maternal aunt, told The Detroit News. “He killed my niece and he needs to pay for it. He needs to be in jail.”

“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door,” Spinks said. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”

Police haven’t released the homeowner’s name and we don’t know his race or ethnic background. We only know that he’s 54 years old and lives alone.

I do, however, know this: Black folks in Detroit say residents of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights have never wanted to live side-by-side with African Americans and McBride, regardless of who pulled the trigger, should not have been shot and killed simply because she was hoping a compassionate citizen would come to her aid.

It’s no secret that many residents of Dearborn Heights and Dearborn are jumpy because they live close to Detroit, which is 82 percent black, and fear that Detroit’s high crime is spreading to the suburbs.

Meanwhile, McBride’s family is understandably angry because the man who shot McBride has not been arrested. A jury would have to determine whether McBride’s killing was justifiable, but there cannot be a trial without a defendant.

Cheryl Carpenter, the homeowner’s attorney, told The Huffington Post that her client was warranted in shooting McBride because he feared for his life – and stood his ground.

“On that night he was woken up. … Everything was dark in the house, and he was awoken by sounds of a person or persons trying to get into his home,” Carpenter said.

The McBride case comes after similar protests this summer when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted after fatally shooting a Trayvon Martin, 17, during a fight in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman maintained he feared for his life and shot Martin in self-defense.

“There has been discussion about the impact of Michigan’s controversial stand your ground laws and whether they contributed to this [McBride] incident,” U.S. Rep John Conyers of Michigan said in a statement. “I have long opposed laws of this nature.” Michigan law allows individuals to use deadly force to prevent imminent harm or death.

It’s been 45 years since I was warned to stay away from Dearborn Heights because I am black and, sadly, the call for caution is still relevant today.

(Photo: AP)

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46 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Renisha McBride’s Death: Justifiable Shooting or Murder?

  1. the jews are black on said:

    time to gram our guns protect our own and start shooting every white person that is a threat to our children and our family. it works both ways. why are we being attack and where not doing anything

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      African Americans are already doing a good job of killing more than 2,000 Whites and 3,000 Latinos a year , and in return Whites kill 146 Blacks a year in self defence. Check FBI Stats for 2012 9,200 Blacks being killed represents more than 95% of all African American murdered by other African Americans . You do the Math 460 Blacks were killed by Whites ,Latinos, and Asians .Whites Killed 146 Blacks Latinos Killed @ 85 Blacks , and Police the rest of more than 250 Blacks. To sumarize the stats and Kill scores : Blacks 2000 Kills- Whites 146 ; Blacks 3,000- Latinos 85 . Blacks Thugs 9,200- Ordinary Blacks 0. Police @ 300 Black Kills – Blacks 60 Police Kills . Blacks are extremely violent Killers and they need to be controlled these Svage Thugs

  2. Joe, do you think this will make you more acceptable because you are defending a senseless murder? the big difference between you and me is that my ancestors were forced over here and you came voluntarily and immigration reform still cant be passed. looks like you are wanted here just as much as we are. by the way, i have a graduate degree and still live around my own people with a great job! so much for your sterotype. i could say and make the sterotype that you were a farm worker or in a fast food restaurant. but i would probably be wrong because i dont know you just like you dont know most of the blacks that you are sterotyping.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      I don’t feel guilty for slavery , I came from Cuba and my ancestors were also slaves. Next Latinos -mainly Mexicans- work in restaurants and pick fruits and many shouldn’t be here in America . I worked in many African Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. I visited slave dungeons like Elmina ,and Gore Isalnd, and I visited old Slave Markets of the coast of Tanzania Zanzibar . Economic 101 for any business transaction to take place it takes a Buyer , a Seller, and a commodity in the context of Slavery The Buyer were European and Arabs The Sellers were Balck African Chiefs , and the commodity were African Slaves like You And I . In Zanzibar East Africa, sudan, Kenya, and Uganda The Luos were the Black Arab slave Traders selling African Slaves to Foreign Buyers. Yes The Luos like President Obama’s Dad , President Obama’s Grand Dad ,and his older ancestors captured millions of Slaves , Google it , better yet visit Africa for an Eye Opener. That is why I don’t trust Obama he is a liar.

    • Agreed brother I just think that is necessary sometimes to show our people that many of the stats thrown at us in the media are grossly inaccurate. However he did give all of us a real good look at the fact that this Post racial America is a myth some of our people refuse to believe we have not advanced as far as they choose to believe.

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        You Black African Americans are living in denials and are still a bunch of slaves, you have no Balls , you want the world to feel pity for you you lazy bums. Get your of the couch of Maury … Off Atlanta Housewives off The Braxton…. Get a life idiots . You guys are a disgrace . You hate your women . Quit blaming the rest of us I won’t take it anymore from yoy Black American Bastards

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      You are so dumb and stupid you African American Moron. Are You denying that Black on Black Murder is not evil???? are you denying that Blacks have destroyed Detroit? Are you denying that 75% of African American Households are headed by a single Black Females that is being abused by criminal Black Males??? You are scared of the truth Moron. Why couldn’t you guys erect The MLK Monument , why did your Bi-Racial Kenyan President Obama. Al Sharpton , Johnson , Benjamin Jealous outsource the construction of this Great Symbol to Chinese people . Tell me about this A…Hole F You Moron

  3. I think Joey is done here he has no facts to support his argument the FBI says whites victimize other whites more than blacks, whites lead in the majority of crime stats and whites are the number one welfare recipients. However Joey served this forum some good, he displayed that white supremacy is alive and well, that most of the crime statistics normally plastered over the media are false and the wave of the future is white males portraying themselves as victims. We as a people must unite and stop trying to get along and do business with others before we get along and do business with each other. Joey for future reference when you Troll on a site you are supposed to aggravate the people not you get all aggravated and emotional.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      You African Americans are demonstrating that Black Hatred is well alive . That Black on Black Murder is being endorsed , The law is clear ” Silence Is Consent” African Amricans are silent about their evil Nazi Like behaviors , Muredering and exterminating each other and then trying to Play The Guilty Trip on Whites and other Non African Americans .

  4. Cool Thug on said:

    Joe, calm down please. Now let me ask you a question…
    Very apparently you are so quick to apply the word “savage” to Afro-Americans that it has yet to occur to you to take a good look at what’s happening south of the border. Here’s the question: are not the Latino drug cartels running around killing their own fellow Latinos Too? Is that not self hate? Does that not represent Latinos ” slaughter[ing] each other like wild animals.”? Please give me a answer, I would like to see what you have to say.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      Cool Thug
      An appropriate name for an African America. Get Your Act together . You guys hate yourselves, your women . You destroy every city and neighborhoods you live in , that is why people move out when you wild people move in . Haven’t you guys learned anything after all those years of living among us civilized people????

      • Cool Thug on said:

        I see you avoided to the question, menso. Mira, soy Latino tambien. And there is nothing “civilized” about Latin cartels shooting fellow Latins over drugs, pendejo! You don’t like my moniker? I couldn’t give less of a shyt if I tried! Educate your thinking!

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        Cool Thug
        The Statistics don’t support your statement Chico.
        Go pull the FBI Stats and then let’s talk . Black on Black Crimes, Blacks killing Whites and Latinos is a major issue. Nice try Pal it didn’t work try later muchacho

  5. Joey Joey Joey we played the stats game earlier and your lying whites lead in more crime categories than Blacks, and your right bodies don’t lie more Native Americans and Africans were killed during the making of America than any tragedy the world has ever seen. So now that your ancestors have committed the worst crimes in world history you want to play righteous teacher? Bottom line because I can see that you are getting emotional is nobody believes you body for body no group has killed more than yours.

  6. Ivan Cohen on said:

    “Stats don’t lie….” Frankly it depends on the ethnicity of those who are collecting the stats and their agenda. I have read the comments of Joe Valdez on this and other subjects. There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Valdez is of Archie Bunker’s lineage.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      Dead Bodies don’t lie you idiot . African Americans are so stupid that they can’t see the truth. Who destroyed Detroit? count dead bodies and you will see. Why are educated Black americand moving out od dirty nasty, stinking hoods ? Hoods full of rats just like New Orleans , Chicago , Newark . African Americans are nasty pigs.

      • Why do you hate black people so much. What is your story??? I have friends and acquintances of all nationaiites. I don’t care what your statistics say. I respect those that respect me regardless of color or nationality. I don’t hate my own people. How many black people do your really know? And, I don’t mean just work with or see. How many black people have you tried to get to know? What gives you the right to call us out of our names and describe us as less than human. AND why are you subscribed to this site? You are entitled to your opinion but so is everyone else. We don’t have to agree. If a black person did something to you to cause all this hate then you deal with that person, that issue, all of us are not responsible. Your views and immature ranting are childish. Aaron please stop responding to this self-indulged individual – it is beneath us. #Proudofmyheritage#

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        You African Americans are like little kids helpless, useless beggars. You couldn’t even build The MLK Statue that is how stupid you guys are , Chinese did it for you lazy Bums. You guys frequent our sites why can’t we frequent yours you racist bigot

  7. I would like all black people on this site to read the comments of this Joe Valdez and realize his views represent a growing majority of white Americans. Notice the disrespect and lack of value he places on Black life. Notice how his rhetoric is filled with false facts and skewed statistics, and please notice how he makes no differentiation between Black men and Women. Notice how there is no feminist group in Dearborn protesting for Renisha Mcbride isn’t she a woman? We must wake up and DO FOR SELF we have been trying to make friends with the same enemy for generations with no success, so let us befriend, defend, support and spend our money with each other. So next time Scandal comes on realize that it is fake and we are under attack. No black apologist or those who seek validation from their enemy should be welcomed in our communities celebrity or common man.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      Wrong Aaron
      You African Americans are a growing trend of people who hate other African Americans . You Black men prefer White women , walk around any American cities pal , you see young Black guys with fat White women with a bunch of little Mulatto kids , meanwhile 75% Black women are left alone taking care of their familly . This is self hate , you guys just love shooting and killing each other . You are a bunch of lazy bums, a bunch of loosers . Time has come to tell African Americans to go Stuff IT . We other nationalities are tired of all this crap by irresponsible lazy African Americans. You run Detroit, Chicago , Newark , Kansas City, St Louis etc… to the ground , and then we have to bail your lazy butts out every single time. Go to Hell

  8. Wow! I don’t usually comment but after reading this flagrant hatred…Joe, every member of every nationality does not behave exactly alike. Do not put us all in the same category. Each crime that is committed is on the individual, not the entire race. I think you are trying to get some valid points across but you are going about it the wrong way. It is a trajedy what happened to this young lady. I can’t say that I wouldn’t try to seek help after an accident, no matter what time it was, and neither can you. Blaming the entire black race and throwing out statistics isn’t going to solve the racial problems of this world.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      You Black Americans always complain, complain, complain . Why do you guys hate your own kinds ? Stats don’t lie a whoping 85 % of all murders committed by African Americans 9,500 per year almost twice a many than American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in 10 yrs!!!! all this in 1 year in America by African Americans . No wonder civilized people are scared of Black Americans. 75% of all African American households headed by a woman . 65% of all young Black Males under tha age of 40 saying they won’t marry ,or breed with a Black woman , they prefer White women why????? Self Hate . You guys are the ones that are hatefull, why don’t you guys start loving your own people?????

  9. Why would you even put the words JUSTIFIABLE on here? There’s nothing justifiable about shooting someone that knocked on your door. If that were the case I could potentially eliminate every pushy solicitor that comes to my home. Has this person even been arrested yet? Now do we have a female Trayvon Martin tragedy?

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      You Black African American guys are stupid, how do you expect decent Whites, Africans From Africa , Latinos , and Asians living around rat infested , muredring African American Black savages, prostitutes . Who is that stupid,excpet savage African Americans, that they knock on peoples door after 1AM walking across people properties??? If I lived next to Detroit Hoods I would shoot like this decent guy did , he was scared of Hood Savages attacking him .You guys slaughter each other like wild dogs dude.

  10. Defending or presenting the black perspective is not racist but intelligent and necessary. For all of those who love to mention Dr. King read his Crisis in American Cities speech and realize that before he was murdered not died don’t forget that, he recognized white supremacy, and institutional racism as the number one obstacle of Blacks in America

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        Aaron You Guys can’t take your own medicine hahaha? We are tired of your blame games , look at yourself in the miror and start doing something about your people dude

      • Joe the pal the dude Valdez, I will pray for you!!! Please keep in mind that black people paved the way for Latin people (Valdez) to live in this United States of America…besides most of your ancestors are black, so while you are trying to spew hate against black people, you are degrading yourself too…pitiful!!!

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        Yes part my ancestors are Africans I don’t deny this , but we , and Africans Immigrants are not savages like African Americans . We help each other , African Americans destroy each other. You guys also ahte Latinos, Africans, and Whites, and you hate each other even more . African Americans are Bigots and Racists against each other, and other races except for fat white women that will help them breed the Black out of their race. That is what African Americans believe in.

  11. Kilo Perkins on said:

    BAW you did it again. An extremly racist article that shows the ignorants of the past. Heaven forbid this was just a accident. Lets hang that man in a tree mentality does nothing to furthur the human cause that Dr. King gave his life for.
    With this article only two options are givin. justifiable shooting or murder. What about accident. You paint this as we should all believe that it is murder because their is no way it was justifiable. Ofcourse you don’t give the alternative option of this was just a accident.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      You Blacks couldn’t even build anf erect MLK’s monument, you were so lazy and stupid that you hired Chinese workers to do it for you !!! You guys need to get your act together, nobody respect you guys because you don’t respect yourselves. You Kill each other like wild dogs , why ???? you are dirty and nasty ,just walk through any Black Hoods, it stinks, full of garbage , people urinating on the street . pooping in front of their homes, having sex in front of their kids , and then professing They Love God . You guys are a bunch of retarded hypocrites

  12. joe valdez on said:

    This is an unfortunate sad incident that could have been avoided by this African American Lady . What was she thinking ? You don’t go around ringing peoples door bells late at night , it doesn’t mater if your Black ,Brown,or White . This has nothing to do with racism , he’ll a few block from there in Detroit Blacks kill each other by the hundreds why is TJMS ignoring Black on. Black murders ? Al, this rant about White killing Blacks is a bunch of crap . 95 % of all murders on Blacks are committed byBlacks .85%of all murders in America are committed by Blacks . I am sick and tired of all the African American savage violence .Clean up your your mess before blaming other races .Go to He’ll African Americans

    • According to the FBI 2012 crime report Whites lead blacks in Forcible rape, Aggravated assault, Burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, violent crime and property crime so Joe Valdez lets present the entire picture when rattling of stats. Also your 85% of murders stat is false and if we add international crime on here including war crimes your stats are way off, but I guess you don’t want to discuss that.

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        In total yes Whites 42% ( 65% OF THE POPULATION) ; Latinos 26% (17% of the population), African Americans 32% (14% 0f the population) . The Numbers are clear African Americans are only 14% of the population and commit 32% of all rapes 2,5 Times more than Whites per population

  13. When they posted two male bashing articles about Chris Brown and Kordell Stewart their were literally 130 comments or more. This poor girl gets her face blown off and no outrage? It seems that black people are good at bashing Brothers but are still afraid of their real enemy. I guess everyone is waiting to see what Olivia Pope has to say about it. This is the real “Scandal”.

    • Joe Valdez on said:

      Aaron it’s very unfortunate that she lost her life . However , why was she knocking on peoples door late at night???? Especially in Metro Detroit with the highest crime and murder rate committed by African Americans. That same day in Detroit I bet you there were 4-5 Blacks that were killed by other Blacks why don’t you people acknowledge how savage your people are acting? Quit blaming Whites and other Minorities , clean your own backyard first pal. We are tired and pissed for being wrongly accused by you guys. Bring up your kids right.

      • Whites also lead in sex offenses which includes molestation at 69% and at crimes against the family and children at 67% we can do this all day US crime stats are terrible for all. What’s your excuse for all of the young white men committing mass shootings of innocent people, clean your house please. Blacks have been in a state of confusion since we entered this country because of the crimes and savagery of your fathers so now that you have stolen all that you could your a group of saints that are being victimized? Please.

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        Wrong pal . Whites are 65% of America’s population , American Blacks are 14%, Latinos 17% , Asians and Orientals make up the rest . Why are Black committing 4 Times the crime rate per population than any other people in America? You people are wild , and hate each other . That is why you see Blacks trying to mix with other races in order to Breed the ignorance out of their African American race . The answer is You need to love your own, and quit hating your own people. Quit comparing yourself with Whites or Latinos. We are doing much better than you African Americans

      • People kill where they Live Joe and tend to victimize people they know which explains the white on white and black on black crime rate. She was in Dearborn and their is no justification for blowing someone’s face off for ringing your door bell. The fact that you are trying to justify her murder explains a lot about your nature.

      • Joe Valdez on said:

        White people do kill each other on rare occaasions, Blacks slaughter each other like wild Animals .14% of America’s population committing 85% of all murders .95% of all Black killings are committed by other Blacks, and White police gets hammered when they try to stop all these savage Black on Black killings. You people need to get your act together. Why the hell do you people hate each other that much???

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