“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, was first used by French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). There’s no explanation as to why he coined this phrase, but if he were alive today, I’m sure his sentiment would remain identical to his initial thought.
Despite the world’s technological and socioeconomic advances, humanity’s compassion appears to resemble that of a Neanderthal; primitive, unenlightened, culturally and intellectually backwards. We live on a planet where the richest 1% of the world’s population controls nearly half of the global wealth; leaving the remaining percentile to fight for the residual resources; where despite these developments, we remain blinded to the reality that engulfs us in chaos.
A scene of uproar and confusion; bedlam has been embedded into the Black populous. “Allegedly” arriving to the New World in 1502, the injustices of the Black Male still stands atop a syndicated list. Since those times, we’ve dealt with indentured servitude, slavery, the Casual Killing and Meritorious Manumission Acts of 1705 and 1710 respectively, Reconstruction, sharecropping, the establishment of unions to exclude “negroes” from the workplace and mortgage discrimination. Notwithstanding the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the three (3) things that have hindered Black progress; the 13th Amendment in conjunction with the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, which has led to mass incarceration; a contentious relationship with law enforcement and the psychological damage caused as a result of serfdom. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some African-Americans to involuntary labor; particularly in the once Confederate South. Many activists site this as the reason for the mass incarceration of people of color, as Blacks make up 12-14% of the general population, yet account for over 50% of the incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities.
Jim Crow laws were racial segregation state and local laws enacted after the Reconstruction period in the “South” that continued until 1965 mandating de jure racial segregation in all public facilities starting in 1890 with a “separate but equal” status for African Americans. Jim Crow laws mandated the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for Whites and Blacks. The implementation of these edicts followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans.
It can be argued that the foundation for police departments were instituted by the creation of slave patrols. The first patrols were established in South Carolina in 1704, and were organized groups of White men who monitored and enforced discipline upon Black slaves in the prewar United States southern states. The principle began when other measures failed and was installed to instill slave control and obedience. The first police department in the United States was established in New York City in 1844 (it was officially organized in 1845). This occurred as urbanization was occurring at a rapid pace and old informal watch and the constable system was no longer adequate to control disorder. This can be debated, as many will suggest actions like “Stop and Frisk” and “Driving while Black” are a means of profiling and singling out people of color as being unruly and unworthy of having the rights and privileges afforded to all of the country’s citizens.
Lastly, the most powerful weapon used was the division created amongst Blacks as a result of slavery. The encouragement for “self-hate” is accurately described in the Willie Lynch Letter, and whether real or fabricated, continues to ring true to this present time. According to the manuscript, Lynch presented to an audience of slave owners on the bank of the James River in Virginia in 1712, a full proof method for “controlling their Black slaves” and he guaranteed the slave masters that this method would control the slaves for at least 300 years. He stated that he used fear, distrust and envy for control purposes. After the slaves received this indoctrination, they would become self-refueling and self-generating for years to come. He first stated to pit the different aspects of a Black slave against another Black slave; old Black male vs. young Black male, light skin slaves vs. dark skin slaves, female vs. male and vice versa in all the situations stated. It appears this method continues to work as all the images and rhetoric reflects the self-destructive behavior Lynch stated would occur for centuries.
We all see the atrocities on a daily basis; our hearts mourn for the losses of lives that occur in our communities, nationally and abroad. Police violence on its citizens appears to have escalated and acquittals for those that appear to “purposely” harm African-Americans are becoming the norm. The sympathetic tears no longer flow from those trying to understand their plight and the obstacles they’ve faced, because in their eyes, that’s the way they conduct themselves.
For instance, take the events of recent weeks involving the shootings of Walter Scott in South Carolina and Eric Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma; look at the comment sections related to the stories and review the threads. Many of the responses consist of individuals stating, “If you don’t want to get shot, don’t commit the crime!” or “You deserve what you get for being a criminal!”
The media (television, news and other visual forms of entertainment) plays a huge part in contributing to the public perception. What the Black community views as amusement is perhaps someone’s only glimpse as to who they think people are. So when a juror deliberates the information provided and has to determine the fate of someone who looks like “them” and is believed to have upstanding character, morals and values; and in return have to resort to imagery, lack of exposure or what they’ve been taught or heard when analyzing their inverse, the conclusion is seamless. Victims are left to wonder how this verdict could have been reached when the evidence is so clear.
The African-American community sees it as a loss of life. Every life is to be cherished and appreciated. No one individual is greater than another and we’re a part of the human race.
However, in society’s mind they may only see the ongoing issues that inflict violence. From Chicago to the Bloods & Crips in South Central Los Angeles, we see gang violence. “Refugees” and looters craze the streets due to the damage of Hurricane Katrina. Television shows such as “Empire” and musical personalities like Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown paint imageries that our lifestyles are full of violence and their lyrics emend a negative monotone on our culture.
We now have athletes; Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and the one who paved the way for them all; Ray Carruth who now adds counts to incarceration rates and nightly news segments identifying an African-American as the usual suspect. In many cases, society has a trained perception although it isn’t right, the Black race has provided them with this site map of autonomy due to the refusal to acknowledge the reflections within their own mirrors. So when an adolescent dies in the streets of Overtown (Miami, Florida); Charleston, South Carolina; Detroit or Philadelphia as a result of the catch phrase “Black on Black” violence; people, from behind their keyboards and telecommunication devices, cry out, “Why aren’t we marching against sh*t like this?”
The fact is most murders are intra-racial; with 86% of White victims killed by White offenders and 94% of Blacks victims killed by Black offenders. Advocates will suggest that during the 503 days between the Trayvon Martin shooting and the George Zimmerman verdict, 10,865 Blacks were killed by other Blacks. In addition, there are those who will propose that there’s no significant racial disparity when it comes to police violence against the country’s inhabitants. In an article written by Politifact in August 2014, the website indicated that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps data on fatal injuries from 1999 to 2011 and one category is homicides by legal intervention.
The term “legal intervention” covers any situation when a person dies at the hands of anyone authorized to use deadly force in the line of duty. Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 Whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 Blacks. Brian Forst, a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University, said this difference is predictable. “More whites are killed by the police than blacks primarily because Whites (63%) outnumber Blacks (12%) in the general population by more than five to one,” Forst said.
A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the death rate due to legal intervention was more than three times higher for blacks than for whites in the period from 1988 to 1997. Candace McCoy is a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, and she provided a theory as to why the Black rate was much higher. McCoy said, “Blacks might be more likely to have a violent encounter with police because they are convicted of felonies at a higher rate than Whites.” Felonies include offenses such as violent crimes like murder and rape, property crimes like burglary and embezzlement, to drug trafficking and gun offenses. This would explain the outrage the public has when it appears that violence by those sworn to “protect and serve” is being perpetrated against one segment of society.
What if I told you those same protests, marches and events that people clamor for concerning “Black on Black” violence and “police brutality” take place nationwide; but because you don’t, and in many cases won’t see them on your television, they weren’t announced, properly organized, or the occasion wasn’t as heavily “shared” via social media as Taraji P. Henson saying “Take these cookies!” you were unaware they took place. Taking all these elements into consideration, what is being done to prevent the perceived extinction of the Black race here in the United States or worldwide?
We’re reminded through history that the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which approximately six (6) million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators under the reign of Adolf Hitler. We’re reminded annually about the terrorist events of September 11th. Yet when asked to right the wrongs inflicted by slavery or compensation (reparations) for helping lay the foundation for the United States being the super power it is today, Blacks are asked to “get over it” and no one is held accountable. According to Michelle Alexander, author the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”:
There are more Black men incarcerated or under the watch of the criminal justice system than enslaved in 1850. Cecil Rhodes was a perpetrator of genocide, responsible for the displacement of millions of African people for the benefit of White settlers and enslavement of African people on their own land. White people came from Europe and became wealthy from the theft of the gold and diamonds in Southern Africa. Rhodes paid a mercenary army from England. He stocked them with Maxim machine guns; and with only five (5) machine guns, the English slaughtered 5,000 African people in one afternoon alone–then celebrated with dinner and champagne. King Leopold II of Belgium was responsible for the deaths and mutilation of 10 million Congolese Africans during the late 1800’s.
Belgium owes much of its spoils to the people of the Congo River Basin. Yet these events are rarely, if ever discussed, and many of these tyrants are forever honored for the mayhem and destruction they’ve caused. An example being the Rhodes Scholarship, named after Rhodes, which is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford.
Another is, the world’s last surviving male northern white rhino – stripped of his horn for his own safety – is now under 24-hour armed guard in a desperate final bid to save the species. Sudan (the rhino’s name) is guarded day and night by a group of rangers who risk their lives as they try to keep it from poachers lured by the rising price of ivory.
Yet, despite the aforementioned, who will protect the Black race from the verge of extinction as a result of mass incarceration, death by their oppressors or by their own hands? Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We want things on earth as it is in heaven, yet refuse to work together to create that reality.
If you have any thoughts or feedback please feel to leave a comment below. You are more than welcome to voice your opinion on these issues.