Why Blacks Will Continue to be Killed, And What We Can Do About It
- In 2015 we had the Charleston, South Carolina Uprisings following a shooting at a Black Church, and the Baltimore Uprising following the death of Freddie Gray
- In 2014 we responded to the lynchings of Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, 12 year old Tamir Rice, and Mike Brown with uprisings in Cleveland, New York, Ferguson.
- In 2013 we had uprisings following the death of Miriam Carey
- In 2012, 17 year old Darnisha Harris was killed by a police officer that responded to her involvement in a traffic incident. Her death, along with the death of Trayvon Martin, sparked national uprisings.
- In 2011 we had the Occupy Uprisings
- In 2010 we had the Portland Uprising in the aftermath of two police shootings
- In 2009 we had nationwide uprisings following the death of Oscar Grant
And for every year before 2009 we have seen our boys, girls, men, and women crushed, marginalized, and murdered by this system of white supremacy. Every year we are lynched and every year our response is the same.
If we are serious about our need to bring an end to the atrocities that white supremacy has subjected us to, we must examine new solutions. But before we can examine the fruit of our condition, we must return to the root.
From the Civil War to Civil Rights
To escape the brutality of white supremacy after the Civil War, our ancestors segregated themselves into self sustaining communities. Cities like “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa and Freedman’s Village gave them the promise of prosperity to freed slaves. But without standing militias to protect themselves, these settlements were shut down or destroyed by whites.
Between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, whites used lynching, prosecution, and miseducation to turn Blacks into third class citizens. Anyone who dared speak our against this treatment was made an example of, and any attempts at self-assertion were crushed.
Most Blacks of the time were content with their third-class status, or didn’t have the courage to fight back. Until one boy’s face woke up the sleeping masses.
Thousands took to the streets demanding their freedom. But freedom from what? And how should that freedom be obtained? Through violence or through integration? It was this question that gave rise to two competing ideologies – that of nonviolence in the face of violence, and that of armed resistance.
The Destruction of Black Power
As the ideology of militant Black Power began to take root, whites moved quickly to silence our Hueys, Assata , and Malcolms. Integration was – to them – preferable to our armed resistance.
So bills were passed, and sympathetic white politicians gave lip service to equality for the Negroes. But integration did nothing for the imbalance of power and resources between whites and Blacks. In fact, white supremacy was perfected when Blacks began to integrate instead of fight back.
White supremacy was perfected when Blacks began to integrate instead of fight back.
Now, Black men and women devoted their energy to doing well in school to advance to the corporate world in pursuit of the American Dream.
But Black students found themselves worse off than before segregation. The beneficiaries of affirmative action found themselves limited by glass ceilings. Police patrolled through Black neighborhoods like the Klansmen of old – terrorizing residents. The highest levels of government pumped narcotics into Black communities, then launched a war on the very victims of their plot.
The masses – distracted by the pursuit of something they could never have – were once again brought to life by an incident so violent that it demanded an answer.
Repeating tactics and strategies from the Civil Rights Era, we marched and looted….and fell back to sleep. And since the 60’s our response has been the same: We march. We riot. We fall back to sleep. And our babies continue to die in the streets.
Wars of Liberation
Contrast our impotent approach in the United States to the one taken by Africans to bring an end to colonialism: In his book The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon describes the nature of wars of liberation:
The very same people who had it constantly drummed into them that the only language they understood was that of force, now decide to express themselves with force.
In fact, the colonist has always shown them the path they should follow to liberation…The colonial regime owes its legitimacy to force, and at no time does it ever endeavor to cover up this nature of things.
and he goes on to write:
Violence among the colonized will spread in proportion to the violence exerted by the colonial regime.
When Fanon spoke of violence, he did not mean violence for the sake of destruction – but for the sake of creation. Fanon most likely would not have advocated the actions of the Dallas shooter, but he certainly would have sympathized.
But Fanon understood two fundamental truths: that Blacks must be independent, and that independence will require violence. It was these truths that set Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Algeria, the Sahara, Kenya, Cameroon, Haiti, Madagascar, and the Congo free from colonization. It is these truths that will set us free!
Violence and independence are not popular approaches among Blacks who believe they have a stake in America. But whether we have chosen the path of violence or not, it has been thrust upon us. Political pundits shout “protest peacefully!” even as police train their guns on our children. Whether we have chosen to separate or not, white supremacy has kept us separated from our fullest potential:
- The wage gap between Blacks and whites has never been equal. Today, that gap is the widest its been in 40 years.
- The rate at which police murder Blacks is higher than the rate at which Klansmen lynched Antebellum Blacks.
- There are now more Black men and women in prison than at any other time in the history of the United States. As a result, there are fewer Black two-parent households than at any other time in the history of the United States.
- The gap between Black wealth and white wealth has increased – not decreased – since the end of the Civil Rights era.
These circumstances continue to force Black men and women into an underclass that is used and abused by white supremacy.
Today we see protests and riots and signs demanding “freedom”. But the freedom we seek is not freedom from violence – that freedom is a human right. The freedom that we demand now must be a freedom to build a world for us, by us, that protects and provides for us.
Until we not only separate from the system of white supremacy but declare and defend our sovereignty, we will never be free.