The story has become an American classic. We’ve heard variations of it before.
The 250 pound 28 year old claims he was defending himself against a 140 pound 17 year old carrying skittles and a can of iced tea.
Police cannot find evidence to suggest that the white man is lying—even though everybody else sees it.
Lawyers busy themselves preparing arguments.
Black parents claim racism.
Protests and press conferences are held where irrelevant Black leaders parade in front of cameras.
Black people leave justice in the hands of the authorities.
Black people stay in their rut.
Regardless of what happens regarding the arrest and conviction of the murderer or whether or not the Department of Justice, FBI, or FDLE find anything in their investigations, if Black people continue leaving justice in the hands of so-called authorities, Black people will remain in defenseless and powerless positions—crying over injustice and complaining about unpunished racism in the 21st century.
Are we destined to remain in such anemic positions?
What, if anything, can we do about this?
How should we respond to this?
- Should we fight to introduce a law into congress that makes it illegal for a white man to murder a black boy ?
- Should we fight to make sure already existing laws are enforced?
- Should we assemble to express our disappointment with the silent local police?
- Should we make a sign with a MLK quote about justice and injustice?
- Should we write a blog expressing our disappointments and how this is incident is reminiscent to Emmitt Till’s murder in 1955?
- Should demand that Barack Obama or other political figures call for the
arrest of Zimmerman and not vote for them if they don’t respond to our demands in a way that is sincere?
I’m running out of ideas… I honestly don’t think any of these ideas will do anything to address the heart of problem of Trayvon’s murder. And I hope I’m not alone. Malcolm X’s words ring clearer to me, now more than ever: that the government is either unable or unwilling to address the problems that confront Black people in a satisfactory way. The most natural response seems to be self-evident : address the problems ourselves–but that is not what’s happening. smh.
“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” –Malcolm X
We know the problems. We’re affected by them every day. Let’s create some solutions. Here are a few of mine:
1. We should recognize our power and use it:
- Power concedes to nothing but power. White power is dominating us because Black power has not responded in a way to nullify or overpower white power.
- Black people have power. Always have and always will. Unfortunately, because we don’t know how to use it, we are misusing it. We have fallen into the trap of misdirecting our energies to kill each other in service of white domination (part of the plan of white power).
- If our power is redirected in ways that will help us get out of our current social, political, economic, and spiritual rut, we WILL succeed.
- We must want “freedom, justice, and equality” so badly that we will seek to obtain them using any means necessary.
- We must reject any and everything that is thrown at us to stifle our attempts to empower ourselves to lift ourselves. We cannot limit ourselves by dismissing ideas for Black elevation because they may not be the ways that we have historically fought.
- Let’s fight the fight and let the chips fall where they may.
2. We must redefine independence.
- Independence and freedom are often used interchangeably. As a result, people may erroneously conclude that we (as a people) are independent.
- Consider independence as NOT dependent and slavery as being dependent.
- Are we (as a people) independent?
- When the government provides assistance to “underprivileged” (namely Black) people, it creates a level of dependence that is paralyzing. We are very dependent on the very systems and structures that are failing us.
- Let’s stop putting our trust in people or systems that have not helped us in the recent and distant pasts.
- Let’s be intentionally about becoming self-determining and self-reliant. We must get to the place where we are not dependent on structures and systems that have been put in place by our former oppressors to do for us what we should do for ourselves.
- Understand that our formal education is one of the most important instruments used to keep us in the mentality that keeps us working in the interest of white domination and against the interest of ourselves and our children.
- We have been educated/conditioned to respond to situations in ineffective ways.
- When is it acceptable for children of former slaves to be educated by children of former slave masters? Have things change that much to where one thinks whites will teach blacks how to beat them at the game they’re playing?
- Recall the 5th point in the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program: We should want an education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We should strive for an education that teaches our true history and our role in the present society. “We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.”
- Reeducate yourself on the importance of Nationhood. (Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad , John Henrik Clark, and a host of others talk about it in their books and recordings). Land, food, and shelter are very important in this equation.
4. We must separate.
- When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected with another… Language from The Declaration of Independence, one of the founding documents of America. It made sense for them then and makes sense for us now. It’s time for us to get out of the mindset that this system will do right by us. It has not, it is not, and if history proves to be a good teacher, will not.
- Put little faith in the American system/ government/ way of life. Begin to devalue the structures that we have accepted as indisputable and unchangeable. This is the first step in independence.
- Lose respect for the laws—Since they do nothing to protect us, we should have no obligation to respect them.
5. Stop being so damn afraid.
- Fear paralyzes. It will prevent an individual from reaching a goal and a race.
- Remove all notions of fear and doubt.
- Be lead by the Spirits. We have more help than we realize.
- Fight the fight. Let the chips fall where they may.
Presentations of white Superiority Historically and Presently
The historic presentations of white superiority have been very overt. Illogical and foundationless arguments have been perpetuated as truth in all media forums to condition both whites and Blacks of this notion. Unfortunately for everyone, both groups bought the idea and we still see people suffering from complexes associated with it today.
We know that the Bible was used to justify slavery. Whether it was the misinterpretation of Cain’s mark (Genesis 4:15) or Ham’s curse (Genesis 9:20-27), these stories were marketing tools that helped sell the idea that Blacks were not only naturally inferior, but orchestrated by God to be inferior. Africans were branded as uncivilized, brute, unintelligent, and incapable of reaching certain levels of intelligence. In the late 1700s Negroes were depicted in scientific depictions that connected them to apes (Charles White’s An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man, and in Different Animals and Vegetables). These and similar “findings” were used to create the idea that race could be itemized on the great chain of being where whites were above all other races and Blacks were at the very bottom.
The general arguments:
- White people have souls. Black people do not.
- Whites are next to God on the Great Chain of Being. Blacks are next to animals.
- Blacks are physically strong, but mentally weak (and were created this way because they were made to serve others, namely whites).
- Whites have intellectual abilities that Blacks don’t have.
- Blacks can’t read.
- Blacks can’t go to school because they can’t learn or be taught.
- Blacks are people who orders should be given to, not taken from.
- Blacks have no rights that any white is duty bound to respect.
Anytime a Black man or woman rose above the low expectations—which were based on nothing but hate and stupidity, scholars of the day shot them down or wrote some thesis to explain why the achieving Black was an exception (Phillis Wheatley). More than this, whites used violent and illegal means to keep Blacks in their “places”. (Among other, see race riots/ massacres in Wilmington, NC 1898; Tulsa, OK 1921; Rosewood, FL 1923).
Present presentations of white superiority are not as overt but more abundant. Similar arguments are used, but in with a different slant. Instead of saying whites have intellectual abilities that Blacks don’t have, for instance, we talk about the “achievement gap” between whites and Blacks and how whites excel above and beyond their Black counterparts academically. Instead of saying that Blacks can’t read, society compares scores on standardized tests between the races and discuss the levels at which Blacks read compared to whites. Instead of saying the Black’s can’t go to school, they magnify the quotas and exceptions that are created so Blacks can get a “superior” education at Ivy League schools instead of the “inferior” education from Historically Black Colleges/ Universities.
Instead of talking about how Blacks are uncivilized and brute-like or how much closer they are to animals than God, society highlights statistics that “show” the low moral strivings of Blacks—how much more likely they are to kill others (Black or white), how much more likely they are to get a sexually transmitted disease, and how much more likely they are to be unemployed than their white counterparts.
As I reflect on why I’ve spent so much time on this issue, it is because too many people in my generation and the generations beneath mine are operating under the misguided assumption that racism is gone and that the playing field is level… that things are different. If we uncritically accept such lies, we will never appropriately address the issues (internally and externally) that we need to address that we may move from where we have been for the past 400 years to where we were created to be.