Police brutality against Black people and other People of Color, is nothing new. Racism is nothing new. Economic discrimination and racism are nothing new. Red-lining, gentrification, outsourcing, sweatshops, employment discrimination, glass-ceilings and sticky-floors; none of these things are new, but are rather, a continuation of Jim Crow segregation and imperialism. Colonialism and imperialism are nothing new, and neither is the military industrial complex that is utilized to maintain its structure.
Extra-judicial killings, which by definition are lynchings, are nothing new. In 1951, William James Patterson, with the help of the National Association of for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), submitted to the newly created United Nations (UN) in general, and the UN Human Rights Commission in particular, a report titled “We Charge Genocide.” This report systematically detailed the occurrences of genocide, according and in reference to each line of the definition that the UN Genocide Convention detailed, in regard to the treatment of Black people in the United States, which included reports of lynchings by police officers as horrendous as the lynchings today. He tells a story in the report that was printed in one of the newspapers that served as the primary resources of most of his evidence (there was no internet then), wherein a police officer simply walks up to a parked car and shoots a Black man in the head. The recent tragedy of police officers killing Keith Lamont Scott while he was reading in his car is a mirror image of what Patterson was reporting on over sixty years ago! Patterson also details the extensive economic oppression, which includes Red Lining and the formation of ‘ghettos,’ as well as, the medical discrimination towards Black people in the United States. The “Ten Point Platform” of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) released in 1966, called for self-determination, equal opportunity of employment and education, fair housing conditions, for the United States to honor the US Constitution, and Point Seven specifically called for an end to “police brutality and murder of black people.” The killing of Black people by police officers is nothing new to the people of the United States.
Slavery, and yes it is an institution that is still very much functioning even within the borders of the United States, as well as, elsewhere, is definitely not something that is new. That prison walls are meant to keep ‘criminals’ in is only part of the truth, the reality is that it is also meant to keep people out; wherein the majority of modern day slavery in the United States is occurring. Prisoners are compelled to make everything from paint to military grade equipment, which includes furniture. Some states, like Washington, even have written into their laws that all state agencies “must” purchase these goods. The Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, that was supposed to have outlawed slavery, however, did not; “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” And this does not even begin to scratch the surface on human trafficking, the sex-trade, or migrant farm workers. The Thirteenth Amendment provided the foundation for the Prison Industrial Complex that exists today, and of which the police institution is a major component. Since, what the police do is “catch” (arrest) so-called ‘criminals’ and put them into prisons, which are modern day slave plantation, that technically makes one of the primary functions of the police institution to be ‘slave catching.” This however, is completely ‘constitutional’ as the Fugitive Slave Clause Article V Section 2 states; “No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be do.” Slavery was not abolished in the United States, it was transformed to conceal its true functioning and presence.
None of these events and institutions are distinct or mutually exclusive. They are in fact all mechanisms of a much larger system of oppression. And they are most certainly not anything that is new.
However, many of the people jumping up and down in public and on social media all pissed off because they do not believe Black Lives Matter, either as an organization or as a movement, the people of the many rebellions that have erupted throughout our country over the last few years, or even merely any dissenters of the system have any moral ground or claim. They attempt to dictate to us how and when we can and should protest or respond to the generations of oppression. Often times they recommend that we should utilize the tools and mechanisms of those who came before us because they were “good protestors.” Please! The demonstrators in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s (and yes our people have been protesting and demonstrating against all of this suppression and oppression, white supremacy and this entire racist superstructure in all of those decades) have always been hated and loathed. Don’t listen to that fabricated nonsense you think you were taught in your history books. One of the things they always make disappear is that it is not called “The Struggle” because it was easy and the oppressors simply admitted their wrongdoing and all was ok. If you think that was the case, please reread the historical section above and re-check that misconception. It is and was called The Struggle because it is a struggle, it is a fight against the systems of power. This is a war for our very lives.
These people who clamor that racism does not exists, or start invalidating our concerns and demands by making references to “Black on Black” issues, or who claim that police officers are merely doing their jobs, that ‘slavery’ (notice that they almost always missed the enslaved [the someone doing something to someone else] part) is over so get over it, or whatever else they may come up with; are hyper problematic. First, they miss that this is nothing new. These trauma, these incidents, the racist system has been in place destroying our communities and tearing apart families for generations. Our people have been opposing this system for generations. The only thing that is even remotely new about what is going on is the social media presence and the evidence that has been compiled; which comes with its own kind of trauma. As a result of the interlocking and overlapping networks and access to information, the lies and half-truths that used to be spread about how far this country has come and how the “Race Problem” is gone has been tossed to the wind as the rubbish that it is. Trump exemplifies this perfectly and so does Hillary, for that matter.
Second thing they miss is that all the tactics they suggest have been done. They look down on the people from their moral armchairs rebuking and chastising the people who revolt to throw off our oppressor and our oppression upset that the monopoly of violence has been interrupted. The country and even President Obama seem to be just fine when everything goes according to their plan. Tupac, the nephew of Assata Shakur, and who was named after the revolutionary of Peru who almost overthrew the Spanish Empire, Tupac Amaru, warned us; “Cops give a damn about a negro? Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he’s a hero.” Or the United States and their drone strikes killing innocent people in other countries, all to gain access to their resources. This monopoly on violence is disgusting! These people act like they do not understand why our people, why Black people are upset, like there was only one person killed “by accident,” or that one person did not get the job, or went to prison or was sentenced to death wrongly. They act like this is something that is new. It is not and that is precisely why Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. states that “a riot is a language of the unheard.”
We are unheard today for the same reasons that the Reconstruction Era ended, our lives are not valued! It was this systematic silencing for generations with broken promises and dropped vows that lead King to write “Why We Can’t Wait” in 1963, one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln during the United States Civil War in 1863; our people still had not achieved freedom and liberation from our oppressors. And yet, another fifty years has passed and we are still fighting for the same things. No, this is nothing new and these arm chair, neo liberal moralizers do not get to tell us how to throw off our oppressors and oppression. The half-truths and lies they have imbibed will no longer pacify our people’s thirst for liberation, quell our rebellions, or stifle our disquiet!
For too long has this system attempted to conceal a very real truth; the amount of power that we as Black people actually have in this country. At no time since the conception of the United States has the country been devoid of the institution of slavery. The entire structure of the nation is dependent upon a docile, submissive, complicit population of workers of whom to exploit the labor of. In fact, that dependence is so interwoven into the fabric of this nation that should our people simply decide not to participate in that system any longer it would cause that system to collapse.
There is an unfair advantage that is garnered from suppressed wages, and the synthetic inflation of prices that result from practices like red lining that this country is dependent on. So dependent in fact, that it will attempt to do damn near anything to make sure that its profit structure is not interrupted; such as, crafting laws to criminalize acts such as possessing cannabis, by which they then force people into these modern day slave plantations, and disenfranchise them in the process so that we cannot undo the havoc they have created. Red lining was essentially motivated by the desire to limit the power of black people by keeping us segregated. Politicians and bankers engaged in this practice heavily in the northern states, which many Black people migrated to during the Great Migration to escape Jim Crow in the south. But, these redlined neighborhoods formed major voting blocks and those in power sought to limit that power by redistricting their neighborhoods so that they would not be able to influence the political structure, and thus the outcomes and conditions of their lives very much. When that did not work, not ten years after the victory of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, President Nixon puts (now called) “marijuana” (a Spanish word) on Schedule One of the Controlled Substance List. Not even heroin is that high on the schedule! And alcohol and tobacco, which kill or lead to the deaths of thousands more are not as controlled as cannabis. After 1965, when Black people won the right to vote, the largest new voting block United States had ever witnessed was coming into being. People were woke because of the Civil Rights, Black Nationalism, and Black Power movements that collective comprised the Black Liberation Era, more Black youth were making it into and through college because of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the 1964 Civil Rights Act; so, there was real potential to challenge and change the system.
This is also the time that the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is known for warning against the emergence of a “Black Messiah” and for the formation of the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) to destroy the Black Liberation Movement. Hoover, COINTELPRO, and the United States government are the reason that so many of our leaders from that era were killed, imprisoned, or forced into exile. These agents also brought about the downfall of the Black Panther Part approximately one hundred years after the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 was passed by the US Congress to get rid of the KKK. The KKK still exists to this day. The KKK is one of the most blatant terrorist organizations that the United States has ever witnessed and yet, for all its clamor about terrorism, it is still invading other countries, dropping bombs, employing drones, creating armies to suppress their own people, toppling democratic governments, violating almost every tenet of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and has labeled Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization. The same shit is happening all over again! This is nothing new!
Everything about this system has been designed and tailored to limit Black Power. From the education system with the School-to-Prison Pipeline, to the police institution, to the Prison Industrial Complex, and the Military Industrial Complex (also part of the militarization of the police). Our schools do not teach us our true power. They may teach that some people have the Freedom of Speech, but not how to use it. They may teach that this is a democratic society, but they do not teach everyone equally has to exercise their democratic rights. They do not teach that we have immense power and that we give our power away by consent. They say that a democratic government, even a representative one such as we live in, is one of consent. But, since we cannot vote a new system in the only consent that people have is to pay taxes, but we cannot refrain from paying taxes and revoking that consent, so technically speaking we do not live in a state of consent, but rather, one of compulsion. Voting in a system (for those of us who have not been disenfranchised by an unjust system already) that controls the agenda, and one in which there is an economic bar to entry, and a patriarchal system in place we have the same system as the Articles of Confederation (the predecessor of the US Constitution) laid out; namely, that only white, male, landed gentry could hold office. The net result is the same, regardless of what laws are written. The schools do not teach us that. However, consent is also given through participation.
Neglect to participate and revoke the implicit consent. They want to steal our right to vote to change the system, to direct our way of life, to influence the development of our own communities; then we merely neglect to play along with their game any longer. They want to kill our people with impunity, then we stop participating in their repressive system. They want to continue to hold us within the confines of internal colonies, then we retract from their system. They want to silence the cultural evolution that has been underway in this country for the last hundred and fifty years, then we let them have their system that is so dependent on us. It is not like it is doing us or the planet any good any way. It is time to take a lesson from Black Wall Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Granted, the police and KKK burned it to the ground after shooting all the Black People they could find (1920), but building their own, for their own they rivaled New York’s Wall Street. That alone proves that we do not need them. It also shows their level of fear about separatists and Black Nationalist like Marcus Garvey and Malcom X. The capitalistic structure, which is so far off base of what Adam Smith envisioned is destroying the planet, corrupting the relationship the people have with the planet, and is responsible for the empire structure of imperialism destroying the lives of Black people and people of color all over the globe. It is time to envision a new way of doing things, and an organization in Jackson, Mississippi called Cooperation Jackson has been working diligently to create such a structure.
We do not only have to pull away, but we can create something entirely new in its place. Something that will liberate our people, all our peoples, and feed our souls at the same time. Whatever we choose to do as a people, it is important to recognize that we have a choice and that we have power. We have immense power. And furthermore, that we are locked within and engaged in a war that none of us asked for or sought that has been going on for generations. This is nothing new.
By looking back and unpacking the cryptic, concealed, and distorted history to see what is really going on and for how long, hopefully we can begin to envision what it is that we do want and how to achieve those ends. I am not the first to talk about these things and I most certainly will not be the last. Below is a speech that Malcom X made in 1964, “The Ballot or the Bullet” wherein you will hear him speaking on Black Nationalism and self-determination and how to achieve it. Below that are some links for how to connect and exercise your power.
All Power to the People
Black Lives Matter
Bet, we matter!
Imagine if you will
Our folx in their offices
people in their prisons
& students at their colleges
Chose not to show up, for work, one day
Not forever, but just, for the same day
Cuz the sectors we occupy
The whole system disarray
It’ll makes the Status Quo: hit the breaks!
this is some of the power, we have, in the game, today
We have immense power in this world today/
Black Power! In the Fray
Douglass said we will only suffer
the level of tyranny that we accept
cuz complicitly going along with a system
designed to break us, is in effect
the removal of our values and self-respect/
It’s clear from the protests,
We’re not happy with conditions
Killer police, broken schools
Or Our brothers and sisters in prisons/
But if we disagree, why participate
And If our lives don’t matter to them, then why should we stay
Why not stray and drop our roles,
let them fend for their own goals
Let the Traffic technicians,
Walk away from controls
& let their traffic, come down to a screeching holt
Don’t sabotage it,
Merely fail to comply with the system we know
Think about what would happen if we just—let—go /
Let Black Marines, stop shooting global P.O.C.
Leaving blockades, discarding, weapons in the heat
Thinning ranks, Dank
Not sacrificing lives for those who don’t thank
Or spread value after tanks, stop firing
Drop, tools at gates
Leave, mops in bins
Stop constructing, cleaning buildings
That we’re never meant to live/
Quit buying into gimmicks
Cuz national wellbeing
Measured, by economics
not how we do within it/
Maybe money’s all they hear
Lack thereof is what they fear
Love the banks that hold it dear
Could be time to interfere
Pull our cash (that) they’re investing
Gambling, our nest eggs
On things we’ll never see/
But they cannot spend, what they do not have
When their coffers empty because we grab, our money
Think it’s funny, till there is no milk and honey/
The financial system’s delicate
We have the power to stall it merely,
By not complying
Though a bank run’s what they’ll call it/
But recall red lines, restrictive covenants, been played for puppets,
Like the Muppets
Since the 13th Amendment heard trumpets/
Fingers in markets, Augmenting profits, for generations,
Divestment of Property, Grand Larceny, Properly,
Probably costing, the nation’s chance to make it
rapin the system// skatin permission
Awaitin division, derision isn’t just revolutionary
But a responsibility, to the children we’re raisin/
We have the power, to stop gentrification,
to unhinge racialized degradation
& State sanctioned violence
By refraining our participation
Now imagine if you will,
That some of this is done,
Or that, all of it is done,
and it’s, all done at once/
We stop participating,
Reciprocating, victim blaming/
& instead we move to vindicating
Retracting from a system,
That hates our being,
By neglecting, to comply with,
The status quo regime/
Cuz, that’s been a routine
that leads to our demise
One filled with (endless) crimes
Impunity, tears, and lies/
A system that fails to educate, and liberate
But consummates prisons, kills our children clean slate
One that Rapes, emasculates, and otherwise derogates
men and women, changing fates, weaving gates to hold in place
But depends upon us
To perform roles honest
will come to a, crashing halt
Like; “who is John Galt?”/
That’s the power we have,
and it’s a power we’ve used
those in the Civil Rights Movement
Knew it through and through
brought the system to its knees
by not complying to please
Or seeking negative peace
For small measure release
But after Martin Luther King
started stating these things
And people began seeing
How, it’s true and it rings
he was shot dead, in the head, at Loraine Motel,
Now, only time will tell,
if a new J. Edgar Hoover will decide to spell,
COINTELPRO, at the top of a file
because they fear the rise of a “Black Messiah”
They claim through their behaviors
that our lives do not matter
But all of that is chatter,
& the static of denial
reality is that
We matter, more than they can fathom
Back to Atom, through the stratum, through (their) historical datum
Jesus was a Black man, and we’d have no mathematics
Astronomy, architecture, religion, acrobatics
Without our blackness, fact is, every factor good here
Would smash to backwards/
Neanderthal stomping cave dancers
for those of us alive today,
our presence holds a weight (that) they cannot escape,
their fate is sealed with ours,
but they love to fabricate a trace of dominance
while the truth is that they are nothing more than cowards
Respect the truth, inform the youth, and choose
We’ll only suffer, the tyranny
We allow to get through
By participating, we’re insinuating consent
To a system that none of us agrees to
We are powerful!
Black is Beautiful!
Black Power is Immutable!
We are powerful!
Black is Beautiful!
Black Power is Immutable!
Just Imagine what will happen when we use it…
2 thoughts on “Black Power: The Choice is Ours”
Amazing writing. I agree with everything you said. Slavery never went away, it was simply hidden and disguised in another form.
That has been the nature of the system on so many fronts. Americans love our comforts, but do not like to know what affords them. For example, many are comfortable with purchasing meat from the supermarket, but are by no means cool with hunting, killing, skinning and gutting an animal for the purpose of food. The surplus of wealth is garnered through unfair advantages. In terms of the United States society we are really discussing imperialism especially, the extractive form, whereby economies in other countries are suppressed and controlled, the people infringed upon and compelled to produce for the corporations and the citizens of the United States. The people in those other countries suffer depressed and constrained economies and agricultural systems because of mono-culture crops all to provide the diversity of products here domestically, and the ease of access of products. However, most Americans do not really want to know the true social, political, and economic costs of the comforts we partake of and much less do American want to release their hold of these pleasures and privileges.
The phenomena can be observed within most of our systems and institutions. The ‘free world’ is anything but free.