Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge
An Op-ed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, May 30, 2020, LA Times (a few outtakes; my bolds)
“What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”
You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.
“Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.
“Worst of all, is that we are expected to justify our outraged behavior every time the cauldron bubbles over. Almost 70 years ago, Langston Hughes asked in his poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? Maybe it sags…like a heavy load…
Or does it explode?”
“What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the N.B.A.’s all-time leading scorer, is the author of 16 books, including, most recently, “Mycroft & Sherlock —The Empty Birdcage” www.kareemabduljabbar.com
How do our minds not once again go reeling back in time to the original civil rights movement featuring the Bull Connors of the South; J Edgar’s and Nixon’s War on the Black Panthers; the epic bravery of the Freedom Riders; Dwight Eisenhower’s sending 1000 federalized troops to Little Rock to aid 9 black students matriculating at Central High?
But with the election of comprador Barack Obomba, we’re now in ‘Post-racial Amerika’, right?
‘Social Justice Is The Way To End Riots’, June 1, 2020; [Baltimore Black Panther] Eddie Conway talks with Jacqueline Luqman about the myths surrounding peaceful protests, uprisings, economic oppression and capitalism, valuing property over people, and the country’s founding on violence’ (with transcript), TRNN, (a few bits and bobs)
Jackie Luqman: “Why are they destroying their own neighborhoods?” That just is the first indication for me that people still aren’t listening to anything people who live in these neighborhoods have said about how they’re treated in their neighborhoods, particularly by the police.
Eddie Conway: You would think with the Garner case in New York, the Mike Brown case, the Tyrone case, the Corrine Gaines case, I mean, there’s just thousands of cases, you would think by now people would understand this is a systemic problem. In this particular case, the officer that pinned this brother down had 18 complaints against him.
Jackie Luqman: Right.
Eddie Conway: 18 different people had went and said that this person [Derek Chauvin] uses excessive force and is destructive to the community and no one heard it.
Jackie Luqman: Right. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s like not only do people in Minneapolis the political structure not listen to the demands for justice from these people. And these aren’t just like frivolous things like, “Oh, this cop isn’t nice to me.” No, these were instances of this cop having actually shot other people, having killed another person. And at the time in 2009 or so, Amy Klobuchar was the top prosecutor and she refused to prosecute at least a dozen cops who had various police brutality charges against them. She refused to prosecute them.
And I’m wondering if you can help us parse through this response that people always have when there’s one of these videos that come out of the police killing someone on camera and people are always saying, “Well, we don’t have all the information and maybe the cop was right or we don’t know what the person did.” My feeling is that the police abuse people because they know they have the power of the police union behind them to pay their legal fees and defend them against prosecution, all of that. But they also know that most citizens, especially most White people are really going to support them regardless of what they do. And I’m wondering what you’re thinking about that and where you think that comes from.
Eddie Conway: Well, for me, it obviously comes from the way the economic system is set up in America. The capitalist system is set up and designed to protect property. Property is more important than human life. And most of the laws about protecting property, the more property you own, the more protection you get the law enforcement agencies know that. They get their money, donations, et cetera, from people with wealth. Here in Baltimore they’re flying a spy plane that’s been financed by a millionaire somewhere and given to them to carry out their mandate and their mandate is to protect property and to protect the capitalist system. And so, people outside of that system, people that’s not benefiting from that system, they have serious grievance and they represent a serious threat because they are not part of that system. So they need to be controlled, they need to be maintained and they need to be occupied.”
From the Black Power Mix-tape: Angela Davis on Violence
In 1962, a confrontation with the LAPD outside a mosque resulted in the death of a Nation of Islam member. It was an event seized on by an outraged Malcolm X, who would condemn it in an impassioned speech.
Now crimes against property are one thing, but barbaric beaters like these? Fuck them; I hope they are indeed identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, found guilty, and go to prison.. They cause me to commit Thought Crimes™.
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)