Point of View Columns

The Silent Plague

The past few weeks/months/years have seen a proliferation of sad and tragic videos of Black men being killed by white police officers. From Ferguson to Detroit to Staten Island to Brooklyn Center, the sad and tragic scenario of death and desolation is replayed seemingly countless times. But this proliferation raises a very important question – is the simultaneous proliferation of police body cameras and cellphone videos the reason that we know about these tragedies or……has this been going on all along and our awareness is simply based on the advance of technology.

It is possible to believe that the awful occurrence of Police on Black crime is increasing because of the economy, COVID or the malevolent presence of 45. But a bit of logic is important to note. Because during the past few decades there has been some real progress in terms of police training as well as situational awareness. Yet, despite this progress, these police homicides seem to proliferate like malevolent weeds in the garden of our lives.

An alternative thought is that it was actually worse years ago. When there were no police body cameras or pesky cellphone videos police could do whatever made sense to their universe of perspective and there was no alternative reality.

Consider the fact that if the death of Davoun Martin at the hands of the police had occurred in 1970 there would have been no video or photographic evidence. The police officers involved would have concocted a story about Mr. Martin presenting a danger/reaching for a gun…whatever, and that would have been the end of the story. Literally, no one reading this would ever have even known his name, much less the circumstances of his death.

Accepting this alternative theory, it is possible to realize that police/law enforcement authorities have been killing Black men without consequence for centuries. Keep in mind that since the appearance of Black people in America in 1619 there were actual laws which mandated that it was not a crime for white men to kill Black people for any cause whatsoever until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

That virulent mind set had already spread into the body politic prior to the ratification of the Constitution and it was only due to a civil war and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments that Black Americans were according a semblance of citizenship and humanity. Nevertheless, the dehumanization of Black Americans has persisted through the deconstruction of Reconstruction into the Jim Crow Era into present day America and the arrival of the James Crow Era.

During all of these centuries the devaluing of Black lives made it simple, easy and logical for law enforcement to impose capital punishment on Black Americans for whatever real or imagined offense might come to mind. And that is why it is possible to believe that technology is not the reason why there is a proliferation of Blue on Black Crime in America.

We have every historical, statistical and anecdotal reason to believe that the law enforcement institutions of this nation have been killing Black men, women and children with impunity throughout the history of the United States. It has been such a part of the DNA of American law enforcement that some police officers have been unable to stop such vile conduct even with the knowledge that body cameras, cell phone video and street cameras are everywhere.

In other words, it has always been here. Before the founding of the Republic.

Except now we see it in real time.

And sadly, we will continue to see this infernal replay until justice and the recognition of the innate humanity of Black Americans becomes a reality.

We can only hope that that day will come sooner than later.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 19, 2013

The aftermath of the wrongheaded and racially stained verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman leaves black parents in a real quandary – what survival lessons should be taught? Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has fashioned himself as some kind of avatar of Washington gridlock, and he is proud of it. And finally, the City of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. This is a sad story that may also be a precursor of things to come.

What is the Lesson Plan?

In her first interview since the Zimmerman trial, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin offered a heartbreaking observation – one shared by black parents across this country. She said that she had “no clue” what to tell her surviving son regarding the best course of action to take to stay in alive in circumstances similar to the one that cost Trayvon Martin his life.

Clearly walking down the street in a lawful fashion is not enough to insure that a young black man will come home alive. Just a clearly, taking notice, much less offense, to being followed by a suspicious or “creepy” white man could be a fatal decision.

In the event that her surviving son is confronted by a white man with no apparent or stated affiliation with law enforcement, he is supposed to………….what? Assume that all white men are well-intentioned and submit to detention and questioning? Should he run for his life? Should he resist as most young white men are taught to do?

It is a shame that there are no useful answers to these questions. And it is shameful that the Zimmerman case will not be the last of its kind in these United States.

The Champion of Dysfunction

When he first took his oath of office as a United States Senator Mitch McConnell swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. A thorough search of the Constitution will not reveal a provision that gives anyone the right to impair and impede the orderly function of the federal government for purely partisan reasons.

Yet, as Minority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell has instigated over FOUR HUNDRED FILIBUSTERS in order to impair and impeded the operations of the federal government. Everything from legislation to routine presidential appointments are held up, sometimes for years, at McConnell’s behest, serving his goal of crippling the Obama Administration and diminishing its legacy.

When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 19, 2009, he swore that he would do everything in his power to make sure that President Obama was a one term president. We all know how that turned out.

Now, McConnell’s goal is loftier – the systematic destruction of the federal government by employing strategies of delay, obstruction and more delay.

Mitch McConnell is a political terrorist who wears a filibuster vest instead of a bomb vest.  

As Detroit Goes So Goes…….?

In the 1950’s Detroit was one of the largest cities in the United States with a population of 1.8 million people. Today Detroit has a population of 700,000 people and has filed for bankruptcy.

There are a lot of reasons for this disastrous decline of what was once one of this country’s greatest cities – governmental mismanagement, relocation of core businesses (including the automobile industry), the flight of the middle class (black and white) and seemingly no sustainable vision for the future.

The structural dysfunction of the city’s finances occasioned by pension costs cannot be ignored as well. Many cities, counties and states will be watching the outcome of the Detroit scenario as the mayors, managers and governors know that they could be next.

Have a great weekend and stay strong!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 25, 2011

The weekend begins with impending radiation doom in Japan and more questions about the U.S. military intervention in Libya and where this will lead. President Obama has a lot of explaining to do in the coming week.

Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh continues to insure his first ballot entry into the “Idiots Hall of Fame” even with Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown giving him vigorous competition. Also, a new photography book chronicling the decline of Detroit offers lessons for all.

Once again, you are invited to visit the “Be My Guest” feature of Point of View to read a column by Professor Pamela Newkirk regarding her absolutely fascinating book “Between the Lines – The Power of African American Letters”. You will be doing yourself a great favor by taking the time to read it.

So Limbaugh Thinks Obama is a “Sissy”?

The week was marked by yet another childish smear of President Obama by that perpetual child, Rush Limbaugh. It seems that Limbaugh feels that President Obama is less manly because he didn’t move more quickly to rain death and destruction upon the military assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (and the unfortunate civilians who happen to get in the way).

On the Planet Limbaugh you should shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. Which is exactly why this country is already mired in two seeming endless wars and exactly why serious contemplation of the consequences of military action is needed – now more than ever.

We have already had a Sarah Free February and now a Donald Free March. Perhaps it is time for a Rush Free 2011?

Requiem for Detroit?

The 2010 census report tells us that the population of Detroit is now 713,777. In 1950, when Detroit was the fourth largest city in the United States, its population was 1,850,000. But the numbers do not tell the whole story.

The evisceration of a major metropolis is marked by more than urban flight and urban blight. In a moving book of photographs entitled “The Ruins of Detroit” – http://www.marchandmeffre.com/detroit/index.html – Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have compiled a searing montage of what the death of a city looks like.

There are lessons to be learned in the Detroit tragedy including the enduring possibility of renaissance and renewal. It is clear that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and his administration have not surrendered to the facts as they are and are instead trying to implement a plan of what can be in the new Detroit.

The prospect of renaissance and renewal in Detroit inspires residents of challenged cities across this nation.

There are also the lessons of what happens when corporate aspirations for profit eclipse notions of community and nation. Detroit is not suffering from a natural disaster like the hurricane in New Orleans or the earthquake in Port Au Prince.

The industrial/corporate complex of Detroit, dominated by the automobile industry, miscalculated and misunderstood the changes in their chosen field. They profited mightily from the labor and support of the people of Detroit and now the people of Detroit are paying dearly for these mistakes.

And now, while American automobile companies and their financiers are enjoying record profits, the people of Detroit sort through the rubble in search of renaissance and renewal.

Indeed there are lessons to be learned in Detroit.

Bad Boys Unite!

Charlie Sheen is careening through the Twittersphere and the blogosphere as the world waits for his brain to actually evaporate. He is getting ready to do a national tour including Radio City Music Hall in New York City as one of the venues for his marathon meltdown. Charlie Sheen may go down in history as the best argument against drug abuse ever.

Then Chris Brown throws a Chrissyfit and trashes an ABC dressing room because he didn’t like being asked about his felony conviction involving his brutal assault on his former girlfriend Rihanna.

The fact that he was so angry that he tore off his shirt and stormed out of the studio shirtless is a particularly curious act and indicates that maybe he is in need of a post-graduate anger management class or two.

Of course, if his celebrity had not earned him probation instead of a jail sentence he would probably be a regular resident of the bridal suite at the Los Angeles County Jail – in which case going around shirtless would have been his normal attire.

Where is Dennis Rodman when we need him?

Have a great weekend!

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