It seems incompatible with civility, o logic for that matter, that African Americans, in the 21st century, and under un Moreno president, are still asserting, and chanting phrases like: “Black lives matter” to prove human worth. From 3/5s of a person to this, déjà vu, we colored folks, seem under constant social siege.
Los Angeles, California; Tulsa; Oklahoma; Ferguson, Missouri; New York City—diverse inhabitants who don’t even pronounce words alike—have this vicious, violent common experience with the police—its déjà vu. Blacks and La Raza have this uncanny “coincidence” of being fatally shot, or brutally beaten by the popo.
More times than not, the officer is white, the victim colored. But race is not the end of the story here. Black officers kill black people, too: because it isn’t so much race anymore as an authoritative mindset—us against them. Too often, American citizens who are not wholly compliant, if just but for a misdemeanor citation, become “justifiably” deserving of trial and execution on the boulevard. You see, when a problem becomes systematic, that is to say, prolific in nature, then any race could be the victim, and any race could be the aggressor. It becomes so simply systematic anyone could play either role.
We saw that in 2011, when mentally ill Kelly Thomas, a Californian, who was a white as the cops who attacked him, beat him to a mortal pulp because he dared defy their orders. His resistance was his deadly weapon.
None of this is new to black folk, though. Black folk have been complaining about police brutality since before Jim Crow. It’s like there’s no end to the madness. It has become as cyclic as the seasons, déjà vu.
The Watts rebellion of ’65: the MOVE bombing of ’85, in which men, women and children were killed; Rodney King in ’91: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott… and on and on and on.
As Americans we can do better.
From your local lockup, this is Dortell Williams for Prison Radio.