“You either build or you destroy, so what you waitin’ on?” Jay Electronica from the Victory Mixtape
It is way too late to say this sort of thing is getting out of hand. We are headed into a new phase now. I’m labeling it as a purposeful revealing of intentions, of sorts. The United States of America is finally willing to let the world see her for what she really is: an overtly racist nation. Thanks to the real racist powers that be in America that have managed to display an even more graphic disregard for non-white life we are seeing yet another eventful summer of institutional racist oppression involving an array of international media.
It is getting hard to keep up, but here are some of the recent headlines in the good old United (police) States of America. (I have been meaning to tell you how it looks from way over here in a distant land but I already know that it looks the same wherever you are.)
- On the night of June 17th a twenty-one-year-old apartheid sympathizer shot and killed state senator Clementa Pickney, Cythia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson while attending a bible study with them at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. [Individual]
- Two days later on June 19th Samuel Dubose was executed by a University of Cincinnati police officer after being unnecessarily detained for not displaying his front license plate in Ohio. [Group: police]
- Sandra Bland, a member of the Movement for Black Lives, was pulled-over for her failure to signal a lane change on July 10th by a Texas state trooper in Waller County that quickly escalated into her arrest and she was found dead in her jail cell on July 13th. [System: justice]
- On July 14th Rexdale Henry, a Choctaw Native American activist, was also found dead in a jail cell under mysterious circumstances after being arrested for an unpaid fine and held over the weekend from July 9th in Neshoba County, Mississippi. [System: justice]
With stuff like this happening all the time it is hard to tell if it is making writing careers or breaking them. This writing business is beyond excruciatingly painful. I was recently engaged in an intellectual, social media conversation about an article by Jonathan McWhorter that compared the strong antiracist sentiments of the Movement for Black Lives to a religion. McWhorter basically extols that the good white people that are likely to be drawn into the very specific cause of Black Lives Matter in the United States of America will be ultimately shackled by guilt and result in some failed policy. I argued amongst some of my white friends that McWhorter unwisely called out Ta-Nehisi Coates as a pied piper of sorts for white liberalism along with other points in the article that I found problematic.
The notion that people standing against racism are somehow infectiously following the most recent beautiful music of morality is serene but if that were the case Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King could have succeeded long ago. Individuals, groups, and systems claim the lives of minorities in the United States with increasing clarity and at an alarming rate therefore the struggle against that phenomenon has refined itself. The correct diagnosis of the sickness in America and the preponderance of evidence has led two separate white minorities to the realization that they might not have started the fire or put the kettle on the stove, but they would either like to completely avert or accelerate the seemingly inevitable boiling over. Black lives indeed matter and the urgency implies that time is running out on anybody still mulling it over. Most smart people can see this choice has to be made now, for deliberation is also making a clear statement.
The Movement for Black Lives that has propelled organizations like We Charge Genocide and writers like Coates appears to have just a little more self-determination rather than just relying solely on some white people, however. This movement wasn’t quelled by the removal of some flag or defined by the people that have already lost their lives during the long and winding course but there have always been drum majors serving as prominent beacons keeping up with the times. (I thank God every day for those willing to get out there and do the heavy lifting because I have a strong feeling that I know where all this is going.) Black Lives Matter can exist totally beyond white validation and beyond the grasp of those attempting to stop it while still somehow, reaching those groups whether eloquently or crudely. The real shining stars are the throngs of real patriots marching in step for the most basic of human rights in America: the right to live. Ta-Nehisi Coates is deserving of his accolades, too –even if he is moving to France with his family in the pursuit of happiness. Coates has a new book out dedicated to his son and he was compared to another expatriate, James Baldwin, who issued wise words about oppression to his nephew by literary great Toni Morrison, but you already know I’m going to let them tell it.