Monday, January 06, 2014

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of The Parts

When I talk about what happens to Black boys and men in this country or how oppression works related to any group in the world (women of color? White women? poor people? immigrants? you name it...), I try to keep the focus on the system rather than "a few bad apples." Are there some crazed predators out there stalking about among us, individuals who would scare the pants off anybody? Oh, yeah. No question. Do I think they should be identified and isolated so they're not a threat to themselves or the rest of us? Absolutely.

But individuals are relatively easy to deal with once we recognize them if they're not given a get-out-of-jail-free card by a system that co-signs what they do because it maintains the system's power. That's where the rubber meets the road. Knowing that Black boys and men are being rounded up like cattle and herded into prisons (many of which are now privately-owned and solid investments on Wall Street) is one thing. Realizing that this is not the consequence of combining Black males' "natural" propensity for crime with the actions of a "few bad apples" in uniform is something else entirely. And it's systemic.

How do we know? Because the behavior of those bad apples not only goes unpunished; it's actually encouraged. And one of the primary ways it's encouraged is that it goes unpunished. (This is not as confusing as it initially sounds. Think about it.) So when the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement carefully documents the fact that in 2012, someone employed or protected by the U.S. government killed a Black man, woman, or child every 28 hours and then goes on to demonstrate that, of those 313 homocides, not a single police officer and only four security guards or vigilantes have been convicted of anything in those cases, the message comes across loud and clear.

If you Google the phrase "police impunity from prosecution," page after page of listings come up from every imaginable country in the world: Rumania, Panama, Gualemala, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nepal, Honduras, the Ukraine, (stop me when it gets ridiculous) and on and on and on, with never a mention of the good old U.S.A. And Google is considered just an information cow, right? What does Google care? Still, the day hardly passes that U.S. newspapers don't report accounts of Black males being killed "by accident" at the hands of the police. It rarely takes more than a couple of weeks to learn that the police acted "with impunity" (without fault). So why wouldn't that information be all over Google just like the information about all the rest of the countries in the world?

The system of racial oppression embedded in our social institutions reserves the right to stereotype and brutalize African-American citizens of the U.S., exploit them for economic gain, and then blame them for their own brutalization, using a criminal "injustice" system expressly geared to do this -- all while providing millions of jobs so that workers (at least some of which are Black) will not protest this process of institutionalized oppression. And the deck is ever so stacked in favor of the system (of course).

Black people know this and call police in Black communities "garrison forces." White people don't have to care (because while poor Whites may go to jail, they're not likely to be killed by the police with the same readiness Black folks are). So many Black boys grow up watching life slip away from them from their earliest memory, broken-hearted and wondering what they did to deserve being born Black, waiting, waiting, waiting for the other shoe to fall.

And some people want to claim that the problem is sagging pants...


Joycelyn Hall said...

I just finished watching, Fruitvale Station as well as The Butler, and I just could never wrap my head around what did we, as African Americans do to be treated so poorly. Yes no ones perfect, but when Cecil Gaines, in The Butler mentioned that the USA was concerned about the Nazi concentration camps, when we had our own concentrations camps here in the USA for 200 years. To watch Fruitvale Station and to know that the police who shot only served an 11 month sentenced, and said he mistaked his gun for his taser, it almost leaves you hopeless, because you know had the situation been reversed we all know how that outcome would have been. I know we should live by Ghandi's Paradox, it's just hard and confusing at the same time because how do you blend in and be who you are without losing yourself to white supremacy.

Changeseeker said...

This is one of the primary reasons I continue to write this blog, Joycelyn. I'm not sure what good it does ultimately, but as long as the situation continues as it is, I feel the need to keep speaking Truth to Power (and to the powerless). The Ottoman Empire lasted 700 years -- and then it was over. I'm waiting for over.

In the meantime, keep in mind that there are multi-millions of others around the world who are also being oppressed (to the point of death in some cases) because they are women or poor or believers in a particular religion or of a particular nationality or ethnicity or sexual orientation, etc. We need to see the broader picture and ask ourselves what is really driving the train and how can we change the status quo. The depression can be somewhat mitigated by our commitment to fight the Power in all its manifestations.

I've been thinking more and more about how capitalism and the concentration of wealth in the world is served by White Supremacy and the patriarchy...yes?