The statistics, the protests, the pain of the deaths of Black folk are indications of a painful truth: The deaths of Black people really don’t matter in America.
Despite nightly protests in Ferguson, Mo., demonstrations and civil disobedience, there have not been hopeful signs that justice will be done there. Recent reports of possible jury tampering actually make the prospects of justice seem unlikely and that is troubling as Ferguson could be the spark that ignites a country on a racially-charged edge. Demonstrators are calling for justice for Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old killed by a White police officer on the Ferguson police force.
Though demonstrators have been in the streets since August and despite tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, lawsuits and images of police as an occupying army, the point seems lost. Some still can’t understand why protestors are still in the streets while police have not even issued an official report about the death of the young man.
Ferguson’s police chief issued a videotaped apology and tried to walk the streets with protestors only to have the effort disrupted by officers who pushed their way through the crowd. Clashes were sparked and arrests followed.
There have been confrontations with political leaders and threats of economic boycotts, but still the voices that cry out for justice don’t seem to be heard.
Some don’t understand why protestors won’t go away, but nothing has changed. A grand jury has the Brown case, but Blacks don’t trust the county prosecutor who could have filed charges against officer Darren Wilson and moved the process forward.
“At a time where so many people in Ferguson already don’t believe that Prosecutor Bob McCulloch will take this case seriously, this potential leak is a disaster,” activist Shaun King told the Washington Post. “If it’s found to be true and the Grand Jury has to be dismantled, McCulloch should be taken off of the case immediately and replaced with a special prosecutor,” he added.
Ferguson, Mo., isn’t the only place where Black injury, Black deaths and injustice have things on the edge. Look North, South, East and West and you will find broken and aching hearts of those abused by police or those who have lost loved ones because of police abuses. It is disgusting that a country that loves to promote itself as the leader of the free world has such a horrible record of human rights abuses and outright murder when it comes to Black people. Our deaths are justified, excused and ignored by those who we pay for the privilege of abusing and shooting us down in the street. An officer can be fired for “overreacting” when attacked by a dog, but sees few if any penalties for overreacting when killing a Black man, Black woman or Black child.
“Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI,” USA Today reported over the summer.
“On average, there were 96 such incidents among at least 400 police killings each year that were reported to the FBI by local police,” the newspaper found. “The reports show that 18% of the blacks killed during those seven years were under age 21, compared to 8.7% of whites. … While the racial analysis is striking, the database it’s based on has been long considered flawed and largely incomplete. The killings are self-reported by law enforcement and not all police departments participate so the database undercounts the actual number of deaths. Plus, the numbers are not audited after they are submitted to the FBI and the statistics on ‘justifiable’ homicides have conflicted with independent measures of fatalities at the hands of police,” USA Today said.
According to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, “Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the U.S. government killed a Black man, woman, or child.” The finding was contained in the group’s report, “Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes.”
“When we started this investigation in early 2012, we knew a serious human rights crisis was confronting the Black community,” said Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “However, we did not have a clear sense of its true depth until we compiled and examined the annual figures. We have uncovered outrageous rates of extrajudicial killings—rates, that when they are found in countries like Mexico or Brazil, are universally condemned. The same outrage inside the U.S. also demands immediate action.”
In addition to misconduct under the color of law, there are the shameful Black-on-Black attacks, injuries and murders that we endure. Shameful? Yes. Shameful because the enemy has always devalued and wanted to kill us. That we are the Number One murderers of one another is highly shameful and disheartening.
Our seniors, women nor children are safe as bullets fly in the light of day and through the darkness of night. Bullets strike toddlers, mothers, grandmothers, brothers, fathers without discrimination and without mercy. We grieve, build memorials and move on until the next tragedy. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported Blacks were victims of 7,999 homicides in 2005 and 93 percent were killed by people of the same race.
Most murders occur among people who live together or know one another so in one sense this horrible statistic can be understood. But our history and fight to survive in this country is rather unique. No other group has been targeted for extermination and oppression more than we have. Yet that history and an appropriate response to the oppressor and enemy of us all is so lacking. Instead of facing the enemy as a solid wall, we suffer under his oppression, deny his oppression and murder one another to his delight.
We have a fight on two fronts but both are tied to the need to destroy White Supremacy and its attendant diseases of Black self-hatred and Caucasian hatred of the Black man and woman.
The mindset of our former slave masters who taught us to hate ourselves must be uprooted. That mindset not only makes us attack one another, it also dulls or eliminates that pain we should feel when one of us is injured. Disunity, apathy and denial won’t help us and there is no escaping the oppression. Our way out is to confront the disease of White Supremacy and exterminate the virus of Black self-hatred. We have to battle the systems of oppression while we dismantle a slave mentality that forever sees hope in the ones and the system that destroyed us and planted and waters the seeds of self-destruction.
All of it must be uprooted, root and branch, for us to have and display the respect for life that we must have in order to survive.