One of the last things Dr. King said before he was murdered – “We have some difficult days ahead.” If last years disturbance in Baltimore is any indication; that is a very true statement because the language of the unheard was loud and clear. Over my lifetime, I have seen civil disobedience at both ends of the spectrum. From extremes, such as kneeling peacefully and praying at the Edmund Pettis Bridge on Bloody Sunday to Watts and Detroit – all happened fifty years ago. In Watts, the cry was not hands up don’t shot. It was “Burn Baby Burn” and “kill the pigs”. The cry directed at the police today is “you started this”!
The question is – how far have we really come? If you asked black people they will say we have not come very far at all. Most black folk will say just as it was fifty years ago, and beyond, as sure as things change they remain the same. The reason the police were born was to be slave catchers who were violent and immoral people who killed and maimed as directed in the course of their duty capturing runaway slaves. They watched as white folk lynched, dismembered, and burned black people for entertainment and today as the kill unarmed black men they claim to be the victim.
What I found interesting or maybe disturbing is that the machine continues to operate from the same playbook after each horrible event. First, they put a black face in the picture, even though people from the black community know these people are likely bought and paid for. Honestly, those folk do not have the interest of black people at heart. Next, they will parade every black member of the clergy before the camera’s to give the same message of “peace” and nonviolence. This generation can see through this ploy like Superman with his X-ray vision. This is not your grandfather’s kind of Negro. They see their parents and grandparent in the same hopeless position as they have been all of their lives and frankly see no hope for their future.
After violence and death have been inflicted upon black people the chant’s of American values and the Constitution is brought into the conversation. Therefore, it is very interesting that the treatment of the least of thee result in protest and rage, which is because the system has been purposely derelict in their duties. Then, they ask the question why are these folks angry? The answer is, and Ray Charles can see it, the system disenfranchises them, occupy communities where they live with overbearing oppression and get away with murder; while blaming the people. Take note; every riot has come from a situation where the police murdered someone or an act of police brutality.
Last year as I watched the violence on the streets of Baltimore it reminded me of how the Palestinians react to Israel, who throws rocks at that occupying force. In fifty years, since the devastating riots of the 1960s nothing has changed. Therefore, I say, and we all know, the bottom line is “We have not overcome” and they know it. Poverty is up; unemployment is up, and racism is at an all-time high, and white folk continue to ask the same question – what is the problem? They use the same terms except today the language is coded. For example, they use thugs instead of nigger, as their forefathers did.
Nearly every day there is a police killing of an unarmed man or some extreme act of brutal that goes unpunished as a result of the blue wall of silence, cover-ups, and lies. However, now they face a dilemma. The populous have video cameras and have caught these acts of lawlessness and crimes on camera, and a reasonable person will find it hard to dispute the wretchedness of the brutality. Yesterday, the police repeatedly talked about street gangs have come together against them, when the community says they are the more brutal gang. They have been caught lying, filing false reports, supposedly losing documents to cover up their crimes, and always claim to be in fear of their lives as justification for their actions.
In the Gray case in Baltimore that is the flash point. This young man had 80% of his neck broken, and they want people to believe that while handcuffed and under their control; he broke his own back. Let’s be honest, “nobody is dumb enough to believe that lie”, but they continue to use their favorite talking point; “the victim caused his own death.” I guess the logic is, as history shows if you repeat the same lie long enough people will believe it.
I find it troubling that there are those who dig up Dr. King during all of these troubling situations. So I will do the same with one of his profound quotes:
“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard”.
All of this results in the hate that hate produces. Let us not forget that slaves have always rebelled. This is merely a manifestation of that deeply embedded conditioning. Now, I do not profess to be a prophet, but I will say this if the killings and brutality don’t not stop. It is going to be a long hot summer. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…