The police are the same way… They put their club upside your head, and then turn around and accuse you of attacking them. Every case of police brutality against a Negro follows the same pattern. They attack you, bust you all upside your mouth, and then take you to court and charge you with assault. What kind of democracy is that??!!
You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
The way they pull you over it’s suspicious
Yeah, for something that just ain’t your fault
If you complain they’re gonna get vicious
Kick you in the teeth and charge you with assault
Yeah, but I can see the chickens coming home to roost
Young people everywhere are gonna cook their goose
Lots of kids are working to get rid of these blues
‘Cause everybody’s sick of the American ruse
i have been (slowly) working on several blog entries before this one; however, i wanted this particular subject to have its own entry.
i’ve been receiving several calls, texts and e mails, concerned about me in the midst of all of the uprisings going on. When people ask me (in general) how i am doing, my answer tends to be, “i am doing the best i can in the midst of capitalism.” When people are asking if i am okay in the midst of the uprisings, my response is, “i am never going to be okay as long as capitalism is alive.” Both responses are variations of the same subject: capitalism is the root cause of any struggles in existence for the masses. HOW the masses respond is crucial.
i am open in saying that i support the global uprisings happening. That said, as organized as the system of capitalism is, guarantee that it’s 200 steps ahead of those who are out in the streets. It’s a system based on exploitation, inequity and inhumanity, and it continues to develop, based on technological and informational advances. We must remember that the only constant is change. Humans are increasingly beginning to recognize the illusions presented to them about a system (many centuries old) based on their exploitation. The only response is going to be to rise up against the illusions. As it should be. This is why it is crucial to have an organized a response to the illusions.
This morning I woke up in a curfew;
O God, I was a prisoner, too – yeah!
Could not recognize the faces standing over me;
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality. Eh!
-Burnin’ And Lootin’, The Wailers
Dealing with the condition itself is not enough. And it is because of our effort toward getting straight to the root that people ofttimes think that we’re dealing in hate.
We are oppressed! We are exploited! We are downtrodden! We are denied- not only civil rights, but even human rights. So the only way we’re going to get some of this oppression and exploitation away from us or aside from us is come together against the common enemy.
-Malcolm X (May 20, 1962, after the murder of Ronald Stokes by the police)
i do not watch videos of police violence upon our bodies…. Just as i did not watch the torture and murder of Muammar Ghaddafi. Capitalism replays these videos over and over again (via news programs and social media) to keep us in a loop of trauma. We stay in this loop feeling tired and helpless, asking ‘What do we do? They keep killing us!’ We continue to protest every time it happens, and the cycle continues. History will always inform us of the solution. Political education will inform us of the reasons.
The story will always be the same: the police decide to be the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the lives of African, Indigenous, poor and other marginalized communities. A man (George Floyd) was murdered for allegedly making a purchase with a counterfeit $20. Only under capitalism is someone ‘deserving’ of physical death because of something a cashier could have marked and refused, if the bill was actually counterfeit. Having been a cashier at one point in my life i can tell you that counterfeit bills get detected once in a while. Not once have i or any of my coworkers felt an urge to phone the cops when the marker emits brown or black ink, as opposed to the yellowish ink that signifies a ‘proper’ bill. We just told people that the bill was counterfeit, and asked if they had another bill to replace it.
As Mr. Floyd was still directly outside of the store, the co-owner (Mahmoud Abumayyaleh) or cashier who interacted with him could have mentioned the bill was counterfeit. It’s highly likely he was not aware, which does happen. The cashier calling the cops (which is store protocol at Cup Foods, apparently) is not the focus though, nor should it be. A man is gone at the hands of the police, while Bernard Lawrence Madoff still gets to walk, despite participating in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the world.
There’s a slight irony in the whole current situation: kneeling historically has been known to represent some sort of deference, in a religious or cultural sense. In more recent times it primarily represents protest. When Colin Kaepernick publicly ‘took a knee’ in protest of police terrorism upon African people, it was a division among ideological and political lines. These lines are STILL occurring. As well-meaning as people who support (the intention of) the protests are, the request for the masses to ‘not meet violence with violence’ is still upholding property over people… Or in the words of MLK, these are the people who say “‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; (people) who paternalistically believe(s) he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” The point of mass protests SHOULD be to disrupt capitalism.
The white liberal must rid himself of the notion that there can be a tensionless transition from the old order of injustice to the new order of justice…. The Negro has not gained a single right in America without persistent pressure and agitation….
Nonviolent coercion always brings tension to the surface. This tension, however, must not be seen as destructive. There is a kind of tension that is both healthy and necessary for growth. Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism.
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. Last Summer when we had our open housing marches in Chicago, many of our white liberal friends cried out in horror and dismay: “You are creating hatred and hostility in the white communities in which you are marching, You are only developing a white backlash.” I could never understand that logic. They failed to realize that the hatred and the hostilities were already latently or subconsciously present. Our marches merely brought them to the surface….
– Martin Luther King Jr. (Where Do We Go from Here – Chaos or Community?)
And I came to see that so many people who supported morally and even financially what we were doing in Birmingham and Selma, were really outraged against the extremist behavior of Bull Connor and Jim Clark toward Negroes, rather than believing in genuine equality for Negroes. And I think this is what we’ve got to see now, and this is what makes the struggle much more difficult.
And this leads me to say something about another discussion that we hear a great deal, and that is the so-called “white backlash.” I would like to honestly say to you that the white backlash is merely a new name for an old phenomenon. It’s not something that just came into being because of shouts of Black Power or because Negroes engaged in riots in Watts, for instance. The fact is that the state of California voted a fair housing bill out of existence before anybody shouted Black Power or before anybody rioted in Watts.
It may well be that shouts of Black Power and riots in Watts and the Harlems and the other areas are the consequences of the white backlash rather than the cause.
What it is necessary to see is that there has never been a single solid monistic determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans on the whole question of Civil Rights and on the whole question of racial equality. This is something that truth impels all men of good will to admit.
Let me say as I’ve always said and I will always continue to say that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impractical for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way… But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.
And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity.
And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
– Martin Luther King Jr. (The Other America, April 14, 1967)
Derek Chauvin is but one individual. He ‘took a knee’ (and took an African’s life) in honor of all the cops who could not. To singularly focus on and protest the case of George Floyd/Breonna Taylor/etc.’s murder (and to focus only on police terrorism at all) is still going to present MORE Chauvins. The increase in uprisings is going to produce policies which will enact mild reforms in order to squelch ongoing mass dissent, and people will see it as a ‘step forward’ amidst increases of an even larger surveillance state and national militaristic strategies. After all, Chauvin was arrested and charged (of course only with 3rd degree murder– a rare ‘feat’, as cops are rarely arrested and charged). Then there’s this:
Remember that capitalism is 200 steps ahead. You cannot ‘take a knee’ in honor of someone who was murdered by the very system you remain silent about every other day. This is the organized deception it’s crucial to look out for. If police are supposed to be seen as ‘protectors’ or upholders of the law, wouldn’t that tell you the laws don’t serve the interests of the people? If cops are supposed to be so beneficial, why are they globally viewed as the enemy by workers and peasants? Why would it suddenly be accepted that their being in the streets marching and ‘taking a knee’ serves as anything other than to divert attention?
The role of the police is to protect private property and prevent mass uprisings– there is no other way around it. There is no such thing as a ‘good cop,’ or a ‘bad/good apple.’ You make a conscious decision to put on the uniform or badge, you make the decision to protect capitalism. These cops people claim are good usually remain silent in response to state-sanctioned violence. There are ‘nice individuals’ who happen to be cops. These ‘nice’ people are still employed to be the enemies of the people. However, this is not what i am addressing. A focus on individuals is a distraction from addressing the system in which policing is founded. Though police are working-class individuals, they make the decision every single day to work against the best interests of the people. There are people with good intentions who sign up to be a cop in order to ‘change things from the inside…‘ We see every day how this turns out. You CANNOT reform a system which is based on the system of violence against the bodies of marginalized and oppressed peoples. You cannot reform a system which assures that class inequities are upheld.
Let’s not get it twisted- humans in the U.S. still fall under ‘private property.’ Humans are still enslaved- i mean, McGraw Hill knows what’s up. Capitalism had to evolve as well, based on the fact that humans constantly revolt against their subjugation. Capitalist governments don’t introduce human rights laws based on some moral compass. Mass uprisings occurred in response to the exploitation of child labor, of the 12+ hour work day… So labor laws and the 8-hour day was established as a means to satiate that desire for job/life balance. However, because capitalism be capitalismin’ costs of living have increased, yet wages have not. The masses still have to have jobs in order to cover basic material needs. Educational institutions under capitalism function in the same way: education is said to be ‘the great equalizer,’ and yet schools are funded in accordance to map location. Schools are defunded and funded according to students’ test scores, ignoring the class inequities which contribute to the results of the scores. Teachers who come in dehumanizing African and poor students are the ones scoring the tests and papers. The school to prison pipeline is a reality many students face; and under capitalism, the role of an educational institution is to prepare you to never question authority, and to continue to unquestioningly ‘clock in and clock out.’
The day i write this piece (May 31, 2020) is the 10th ‘commemoration’ of the murder by the Israeli military of unarmed peace activists on the Mavi Marmara, one of the six ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla’ ships. It is crucial to recognize that police terrorism is interconnected- it can never be observed myopically. If policing falls in line with upholding and perpetuating capitalist interests we should never make the mistake of thinking it happens in a bubble, or just to our singular communities. The links (two out of many are here and here) between Israel and the U.S. police are nothing to ignore. It would behoove those who don’t recognize that the Palestinian struggle for land and self-determination is not separate for the African fight for liberation and self-determination (and land!!!) to also study why this is the case.
Exhibits A, B, C and D:
Sanctions occur in both the U.S. and outside of it. In the course of this current pandemic, we see how sanctions (on Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and more) have prevented medical, food and other supplies from reaching the people. Sanctions exist for marginalized and colonized communities in the U.S., via educational, medical, housing, food, electrical, sanitation, and economic inequities. The government places drugs in a community (or looks the other way in the face of a natural disaster), waits for said community to be ‘uninhabitable’ to realtors (who don’t have an income if they don’t sell or fill up ‘property’); then developers come in and contribute to pricing out longtime residents. Gentrification is the localized version of an imperialist takeover.
From the Negro Seaman’s Act to the current wave of curfews, African bodies in the U.S. (and the world) have always been policed, so as to curtail uprisings. And as usual, executives and the bourgeoisie are doubly running scared, as their ‘way of life’ is being disrupted- first, due to the pandemic, secondly due to the uprisings. There are now many calls to read books about ‘racism in America’; there’s feigned concerns for the voices of African employees. If the CNN headquarters were not targeted, would this response happen? How about this one from Amazon- the same union-busting company that sells facial recognition software to the very police who contribute to that “inequitable and brutal treatment of (African) people”?
The bourgeoisie is also singling out the current administration’s reaction to Mr. Floyd’s murder (and the uprisings which have ensued), as if Donald Trump is the only U.S. president to support a system of white supremacy. One of the many arbitors of white supremacist policies, Joseph Biden, is calling for a “restraint” from violence in the uprisings, as he and other neoliberal politicians remain silent amidst the violence of Zionism, the violence of the prison industrial complex, and the violence of capitalism in and of itself. Not only is Biden playing up the sympathy in relation to the state-sanctioned violence upon African people for political gain, it’s clear from the myopic outrage based on one statement out of the wholly condescending interview with Charlemagne (who has his own problematic histories with colorism, misogynoir, assault jokes and more), that people are actually not aware of his political history. As Margaret Kimberley wrote in 2017, “It is an error to be swept up in useless argument about whether the current president is a white supremacist without also discussing the racist underpinnings of American society.”
“In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”
– W.E.B. DuBois
He was not or never had been in favor
Of letting us vote so u c…
Abraham Lincoln was a racist who said
“U cannot escape from history”
-Prince Rogers Nelson
Kimberley, author of Prejudential: Black America And The Presidents, also wrote:
“We had a white supremacist nation even when the president was black. Barack Obama was indeed the more effective evil. He is now proving it by doing what former presidents always do. He is lining his pockets giving speeches to the banksters who stole what little wealth black people had managed to earn. But he had better manners than the erratic and, yes, bigoted Donald Trump and he went out of his way to make nice even as he worked to enhance the neo-liberal and imperialist projects.
Obama never prosecuted killer cops or thieving bank executives. He destroyed Libya, Africa’s most prosperous nation. But white racists still hated him and he benefited from their animus. They gave him the Teflon coating that Trump can only dream about.”
Keep Ms. Kimberley’s words in mind when reading Obama’s statement regarding the murder of George Floyd- the same Obama who has supported and funded increased militarization of the police during his administration. Capitalism understands that people are reactionary. Capitalism understands that we are conditioned to resist the intense study of these policies, which are an exacerbation of past ones. Capitalism understands that if you put in a president that’s so bad, you’ll forget that the last one was just as bad. This is also the same Obama who represented MLK’s concerns about ‘white liberals’ dictating how Africans should protest:
“As a general rule, I think that what, for example, Black Lives Matter is doing now to bring attention to the problem of a criminal justice system that sometimes is not treating people fairly based on race, or reacting to shootings of individuals by police officers, has been really effective in bringing attention to problems… One of the things I caution young people about, though, that I don’t think is effective is once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention and shined a spotlight, and elected officials or people who are in a position to start bringing about change are ready to sit down with you, then you can’t just keep on yelling at them,”
Has any true victory of the people been won by compromising with an immoral capitalist power structure?
As the focus is on Trump’s description of protesters as ‘thugs,’ lest we forget, Obama also called those who rose up in Baltimore “criminals” and “thugs.” He actually stopped himself from completing the word ‘protesters’ to do it. He also utilized similar pathologies framed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
While Obama, Trump and many others give negative connotations to ‘looting’ (when it comes to mass protest); people generally ignore that the very foundation of the U.S. is looting.
A racial analysis cannot be had without a class analysis, and vice versa. The refusal of unionized bus drivers (most recently in NYC and Minneapolis) to assist police in transporting protesters is nothing new, however it is a major example of why an intersectional analysis cannot be ignored. The reason why Africans continue to be recipients of state violence in ways which are holdovers from legalized ‘classical’ enslavement is because the forced labor as we’ve been conditioned to know it is no longer ‘acceptable’. However, capitalism and the exploitation and subjugation of African bodies (all over the world) never ceased. We’re not dying fast enough for them collectively, partly due to the so-called ‘Emancipation proclamation’ (signed by white supremacist Abraham Lincoln). Hence, there are a disproportionate number of Africans in jails and prisons for non-violent offenses; unarmed Africans are affected by no-knock raids and gunned down by police without question; economic sanctions prevail in the hood, and and people continue to act as if the Moynihan Report (which ultimately looks as if Biden has worshiped at the feet of it) is some bearer of truth about the African family structure.
Long rap about no knock bein’ legislated
For the people you’ve always hated
In this hell hole that you, we, call home
No knock, the man will say
To keep that man from beating his wife
No knock, the man will say
To protect people from themselves
No knockin’, head-rockin’, inter-shockin’
Shootin’, cussin’, killin’, cryin’, lyin’
And bein’ white
No knocked on my brother Fred Hampton
Bullet holes all over the place
No knocked on my brother Michael Harris
And jammed a shotgun against his skull
– Gil Scott-Heron
Who’s watching the watcher?
Tell me who’s keeping an eye
On those who claim to be keepers
Sitting safe with their view from the sky
Who is watching their morals
Tell me who says they’re okay
Oh, won’t you tell me who is gonna protect us
When it’s a watchman’s holiday
– Nona Hendryx/LaBelle
But I thrive to survive, I pray to God to stay alive
My attitude boils inside
And that ain’t it, you think I’ll every quit
Still I pray to get my hands around
The neck of the man wit’ the whip
3 months pass, they brand a label on my ass
To signify, owned
I’m on the microphone
Sayin’ 1555, how I’m livin’
We been livin’ here
Livin’ ain’t the word
I been givin’
Classify us in the have-nots
‘Cause it’s all about money
– Public Enemy, Can’t Truss It
There are many Africans (in particular) who have been dreading having ‘the talk’ with their children. The ‘talk’ has had many iterations: the doll test/colorism, draconian drug laws, police terrorism… While it’s crucial to speak with children about these matters as a means to prepare them for the world that sees them as less than sentient; one thing that’s missing from the conversation is the why. It’s not enough to tell a child to ‘pull your pants up, always keep your hands up, never raise your voice,’ or all of these other means of respectability just to survive. Is a society which sees us as less than human, and only as a means to siphon labor from something to be respected? People eventually get tired, and they will fight back.
And make no mistake- capitalism will use this as another opportunity to profit off of trauma. Families get torn apart, and it will be played 24/7 on news cycles. It honestly would not be surprising if the protests are being encouraged/accepted as a means of increasing the spread of SARS CoV-2/Covid-19 (especially among African communities) and stating this spread as the reason to extend lockdowns/curfews… but with even MORE surveillance. Facial recognition technology has already been developed to deal with the wearing of masks.
When the masses resist, capitalism has already planned the response. It needs to for its survival.
“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”
― Malcolm X
We call their names, in remembrance and in protest:
John Crawford III
Abner Louima (who lived to tell the story)
El Hajj Malik El Shabazz
All MOVE organizers
Martin Luther King Jr.
And the millions more, named and unnamed
We call on the names of those who did not physically survive terror upon our collective bodies, minds and spirits… We call on the names of those who have been targeted, tortured and assassinated under the system of U.S. and European imperialism. But it’s not enough to speak their names. How will we HONOR their names?
There’s only one solution.
All of the concerned calls, texts and e mails i’m getting are very nice; however, the system has been the same towards African and other colonized and marginalized peoples in all of the 42 years i’ve been on this earth. If one is concerned for me as a result of what is currently happening, there can only be one response. It may not be the answer people want right now, but it is the answer people need. JOIN AN ORGANIZATION WORKING TOWARDS JUSTICE AND LIBERATION!!!