”Kurt Loder once asked me what do I say to a dead cop’s wife/cops kill my people everyday/that’s life.”- Talib Kweli “The Proud”
So many American men of African descent live in a soul-splitting world of conflicting existences. As Americans were are taught that we have inalienable rights; but as a Black men, we know that is a half-truth at best.
For me, at no time has that duality been more apparent amid the American-based African Diaspora than in the years since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The affair brought to the surface all that is racist and reprehensible about American society for all who gazed upon it. The aggressor was made to be the victim and the victim was said to have been implicit in his or her own death.
From Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner to Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, America tells us they caused their own death, and a significant portion of the African American populous believes America and that it is correct in their conclusions.
It is a sad thing.
What about the Black people who are in constant agreement with suspected racists, conservatives and tea party members whenever the police accidentally shoot a suspect for whatever reason they and the state attorney can agree sounds plausible enough to slip by a jury? Claiming that Rekia Boyd and Aiyana Stanley-Jones were anomalies, and that John Crawford and Darrien Hunt, both whom were shot while carrying toy facsimiles of a rifle and samurai sword, respectively, were somehow in the wrong.
These Drop Squad candidates will say that we must align ourselves with the police to protect ourselves from the hordes within our own community. They make concessions for those that shoot, beat and torture Black men and rape, assault and murder Black women by saying its a tough job and that these are anomalies rather than by design.
According to a graph created by ABCNews.com, 40 percent of all homicides committed in the United States between 2009 and 2011 were gang related. That number sounds awfully high to me but, admittedly, I am biased. With the way race based policing methods terrorize the inner city, it is my strong suspicion that a number of those alleged gang-related murders were actually conducted by the police. The city of Chicago is notorious for the rampant race based brutality and misconduct within its police department.
With knowledge of the racism that proliferates the history of civilian policing in the United States since its advent, my conscience could come to no other conclusion. And thats only considering cops who are being racists, not to mention the officers who use the badge to disguise the deeds they commit that aren’t purposefully being racist but rather money and power motivated.
Officers like Detroits William Robocop Melendez, who is alleged to have been the leader of a crew of 17 officers who planted drugs, made false accusations against innocent individuals and terrorized the communities under their watch. He beat the charges despite significant evidence to the contrary. He has not been convicted of any charges and still works in law enforcement in Motown to this very day.
Then there’s the case of former NYPD Detective Stephen Anderson, who in 2011 testified in a massive corruption investigation that he and at least eight other officers engaged in planting evidence on innocent people to maintain arrest quotas in Brooklyn and Queens.
When asked by New York City Justice Gustin Reichbach whether he had witnessed others conducting shady business, Anderson replied:
“Yes, multiple times. It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators,” he said.
“It’s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they’re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway.”
Whether the police are being racist or just plain criminal, their actions still help propagate the White supremacist charter in one way or another.
In 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigations released a report on how white supremacists and Neo Nazis had been infiltrating police departments across the nation and carrying out their ideologies in the line of duty and under the guise of law enforcement.
It was found that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department had been infiltrated by Neo Nazis and engaged in a campaign of terror in Black communities across L.A. County. Former Chicago Police Department Detective Jon Burge was fired after it was revealed he had ties to the Klu Klux Klan and that he had tortured more than 100 Black male suspects in the line of duty.
Recent findings by the Department of Justice and Secretary General Eric Holder suggest that racism is the way things are done in police departments across the country, and have been for decades if not longer.
New Orleans, LA. Ferguson, Missouri. Philadelphia, PA and now the Cleveland (OH) Police Department have drawn the ire of these scathing reports. Racist, ineffective, irreparably damaged with a tendency to be heavy handed whenever coming into contact with Black folks, but there are still those of blue-black hue who would deem the gestapo police methods of many inner city police departments as being necessary to curb the tide of the alleged savages.
Disingenuous at best, a self-hating lie at worst.
Born several years after the the Trenton Riots of 1969, I recall growing up amid the skeleton of a once glorious Black economic Black in Trenton, NJ. Whenever I would ask my mother why the buildings were all boarded up, why there were blocks of homes where no one lived and why I never saw any White people in town unless it was at school, the post office or the police station, she would start talking about the riots of 1969 as the reason there were so few Black businesses, so few jobs, and so few White folks.
It has only been within the last 15 years that I can honestly say the structural integrity of the town has been refurbished to some extent, and much of the decay of the 70’s had been scraped away. However, generations of living under siege from neighborhood dangers, the police department, attending underfunded schools and suffering through rampant unemployment and underemployment has created generations of individuals who have allied themselves on opposite ends of a double-edge razor of a White supremacy dynamic.
At one extreme there are those who believe the societal ills of the inner city are the result of racism, White abandonment and red-line lending practices that permeated former riot grounds. On the other extreme there are those that steadfastly stick to the belief that everything bad that has ever happened in urban America is the result of liberal practices that prevented municipalities from investing in its infrastructure and the like, never mind the menagerie of dirty politicians stealing from the citizenry in the greater metropolitan area in many instances.The rest of the populous falls somewhere inbetween.
These truths were self-evident for my mothers generation, her mothers generation, her mothers mothers mother, and so forth.
Last week the Chicago Sun-Times released a photo whose publishing had been blocked by the Chicago Police Department for at least two years. The photo shows two former members of the Chicago Police Department, Detective Jerome Finnigan and Detective Timothy McDermott, in a hunting pose with a suspect who had been adorned with deer antlers. The hideousness of the photo is made all the more poignant by the fact that these men, individuals who swore to uphold the law, sit content with the certainty of individuals who were untouchable, infallible within their own paradigm and with a poisoned sense of reasoning that may have led them to believe they had the right to commit this disrespectful deed.
The fact that the two detectives are White, and the suspect of African descent, is significant in that it is yet another indicator of the secret mandate of various policing organizations toward individuals of African descent. That being the belittlement, subjugation, exploitation and cowing of Black people in America.
Proof positive that far too many police feel theyre not obliged to respect poor people in general, Black people in particular. Poor Black people, especially.
So, when placed in the context of police departments purposefully harassing entire communities by issuing petty citations in efforts to treat poor Black residents as financial slaves (Ferguson, MO), departments that are found to be extremely biased against people of African descent (Philadelphia, PA, Cleveland, OH), or law enforcement engaging in racist, hateful chatter in the line of duty (Washington, DC, Ferguson, MO, San Francisco, CA), this photo is just further evidence of police departments that have no love for us, those they are sworn to protect and serve.
Some use the protection afforded to them by police unions and the thin blue line of silence to play out their Nazi fetishes on taxpayers. As stark as I believe I am being in penning this overture, the reality of police brutality and institutionalized racism are more of a danger to society in the United States than words can convey.
If the years since the death of Trayvon Martin have taught me anything, its that institutionalized racism is not a coincidence, an accident, anomalous or a passing fancy. Ive also learned that the average American, comfortable in the belief that this is a just land, will fight and kill to uphold the sanctity of that belief system.
Many in the Black middle class will nod and wink in approval, or turn a blind eye altogether, to what should be a matter of grave concern as Black men and women without the means to properly defend themselves are ground up and defeated by the ghastly automaton that is the criminal justice system. The abandonment by those who are newly indoctrinated into the ways of wealth is particularly befuddling.
Perhaps they believe they are special to have been able to escape the crystalized racism that is the American ghetto, and in doing so also believe that their willingness to assimilate with the greater society is why they can send their kids to the schools they send them to, drive the cars that they drive, and pursue the careers that they cling to. They sleep soundly in the belief that America differentiates between Black people who have money and Black folks who don’t possess as much money. Oh how they bellow and mew like cattle when theyre struck with the revelation that the ills of their countryman are not coincidence.
Almost as if choreographed, news stations across the country paraded gaudy figures of Memorial Day violence in Baltimore and Chicago. And, right on cue, the Black middle class defends law enforcement’s use of excessive force with statements like ‘Well, maybe it ain’t the police” and “I guess Black Lives only matter when it’s the police” while ignoring the decades worth of gang interventions and activism against Black-on-Black violence-such as a recent 300 Men March protest attended by around 50 protesters in Baltimore a day after the city’s 100th murder.
Not a mammoth effort by any means, but still an effort.
Black crime is down, while the White murder rate is actually increasing. Yet no one is mentioning anything about White-on-White crimes. Perhaps because such a narrative goes against the scapegoating intentions of those who sing such songs.
Black Pride isnt an economic thing, or a social thing, nor is it a contrived thing done merely for appearances. Black Pride is what powers the embers within to flame brighter in the midst of society’s insistence upon extinguishing it. “Hold your head up” isn’t some worn out mantra- it’s a survival element for Black males.
At this point a small amount of relief can be found in the moves that President Barack Obama and Secretary General Eric Holder have made. These are historic efforts to expose institutionalized racism via an unprecedented string of revelatory and scolding police reports the United States Department of Justice has released as of late. But, try as I may to enjoy this small victory, my eyes are firmly fixed to a future in which the President of the United States and the Attorney General are far less accommodating than Barack H. Obama and Eric Holder.
For all their shortcomings, at least they understand the nature of racism. Thats far more than the vast majority of White Americans, and its a pretty safe bet that the next four presidents will be just that- White. Even if the an upcoming president is non-White, I seriously doubt any future president will be as inclined to reveal American racism as Obama sometimes is.
The scarier thought is that they might not even need to be.