Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Blacker The Berry / Completely Clueless

The Blacker The Berry / Completely Clueless
The American Justice system was constructed around the idea of Black People being inferior beings, considered nothing more than living property purposed for American profit. In many ways, the idea of Black People being an inferior race of people whoes sole function in America being living, breathing mechanisms purposed for the proliferation of American profit, even though not explicitly stated as law any longer, present actions and decisions of various American government entities still support the notion as strongly inferred. The punishment for any Black person or group of Black people asserting their humanity and claiming the rights belonging to humans in America has historically been, and today remains, severe abuse or even death at the hand of the country that proclaims, "Freedom and Justice for All." The previous eight lines are not blindingly new to many eyes or deafeningly original to many ears, and variations of those lines have become cliché and even considered revolutionary rhetoric to some people and in some circles when the opposite is incontestably true. The discussion about the struggle against oppression and abuse is not cliché or revolutionary rhetoric that is ultimately useless. The discussion about the struggle against oppression and abuse is essential and extremely fundamental no matter how long or how many times the same things are said because the discussion is how the knowledge of oppression is passed down to future generations and the information about former forms of abuse communicated. The conversation about the struggle against oppression and abuse is also crucial in efforts of preventing the former forms of oppression and abuse ever be enacted again. The discussion about oppression and abuse should also serve as a wakeup call that more efforts, as well as different efforts to end the abuse and oppression needs to happen

Fifty year old former teen actress and D-list celebrity Stacey Dash would be an example of the type person that would call the eight lines in question cliché and revolutionary rhetoric after having previously said,
The Holocaust happened only 70 years ago, yet the Jewish people stay united and have persevered. They don’t complain or blame anyone or anything for their circumstances. They work hard and integrate as they see fit, where they see fit. They are a people of faith that I respect greatly. . . Blacks need to do the same. Blacks, stop believing the false narrative that race is what stops you or kills you. Take responsibility. Integrate.  Stop complaining and blaming others for our destiny.  Slavery ended in 1865.  One hundred and fifty years ago. Respect that it is ours and work hard to achieve your own AMERICAN DREAM.” (Dash)
Because of, “Americans” like Ms. Dash and their misguided misunderstanding of how race has and continues to kill black people in America and worldwide what is considered revolutionary rhetoric bears repeating. The discussion surrounding oppression and abuse bears repeating as long as oppression and abuse continue to be inflected upon a single person or group of people, rather they be Black or Jewish or anyone. Because of, “Americans” like Ms. Dash, the discussion about why and how a person or group of people became oppressed and abused, and how to stop and prevent said oppression and abuse must continue to happen because the discussion will lead to informed action and the reality of change can then be realized not theorized. The problem with repetition is that people tend to become desensitized to whatever it is that is repeated. African Americans have been fighting oppression and abuse in America since most still considered themselves African

When W.E.B Dubois wrote,
“Bureau courts tended to become centres simply for punishing whites, while the regular civil courts tended to become solely institutions for perpetuating the slavery of blacks. Almost every law and method of ingenuity could devised was employed by the legislatures to reduce the Negroes to serfdom – to make them slaves of the State.”
The same sentiments were echoed by Michelle Alexander eighty-four years later, “Race has always influenced the administration of justice in the United States. Since the day the first prison opened, people of color have be disproportionately represented behind bars” The repetition of these types sentiments should not cause our ears to deafen, or our hearts to go numb. These statements should cause us African Americans and people like Ms. Dash to question why the problems of abuse and oppression still exist. These sentiments should cause any person including Ms. Dash not to tune out or blame African Americans as the cause of the problem but to harken inward and question why it is that a people that are supposedly not oppressed and abused any longer are not only still claiming their abuse and oppression but showing proof and evidence of abuse and oppression. Later Michelle Alexander writes, “Few Americans today recognize mass incarceration for what it is: a new cast system thinly veiled by the cloak of colorblindness.” These lines, written almost a century apart, should not cause us Africans displaced by oppression and abuse into America’s various unjust and duplicitous systems and onto America’s stolen soil over centuries to tune out, like Ms. Dash, but to question why we should seek new ways to say the same things about the same problems when the problems have not changed or been fixed. The words that Michelle Alexander writes should stir up emotions not of apathy and indifference but fire and rage. These lines that some would considered repetitious and cannon of revolutionary rhetoric, should cause us, a mighty race of Africans, descendants of the survivors of history’s most horrific atrocity and warriors against history’s most racist society and culture not to label these blood bought words, “cliché.” These words should instead invigorate new ways, or rekindle some old ways, of solving once and for all, the problem of our people being oppressed and abused. When the focused goal then becomes fixing the problems, the discourse about the problems can never be cliché because fixing the problems requires an action that is not birthed from nor gives birth to and attitude of stoic apathy.

“The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of the country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from the policies. . . are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who sent them.” (Coates)
These words written in 2015 should not shock anyone  but they do however seem morosely cliché when forty years earlier Assata Shakur wrote, “But it was a lesson I never forgot. Anybody, no matter who they were, could come right off the boat and get more right and respect than amerikan-born Blacks.” These words seem morosely cliché when put into the context of the same time period, when in Oakland California, ordinances in public neighborhoods stated, “No persons of African, Japanese, Chinese, or of any Mongolian descent, shall be allowed to purchase, own, or lease said property or any part thereof or to live upon said property or any part thereof except in capacity of domestic servants of the occupant thereof.” ("Cheney Photographer photo album photoprint 1916.") This fact shows that when a person like fifty year old former teen actress and D list celebrity Stacey Dash says, “. . . there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. Period. That’s it” (Cummings) her words are hallow, vapid, misinformed, and the actual cliché because many have been and still are legally or, as a point of practice, excluded from being part of her definition of, “American.” For all these reasons, for all these past and present incidents, the conversation about the struggle against oppression and abuse is crucial to efforts of preventing the former forms of oppression and abuse ever being enacted again.
The question that must be asked now is what mental conditioning has taken hold of some minds, like Ms. Dash’s, for them to see words like the ones in question as something other than the long agonizing scream of suffering, crying out against oppression. When Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “… its very clear that there’s a difference between what we saw last week between the peaceful protests…and the thugs, who only want to incite violence and destroy out city.” (Fang) She failed to see, or refused to see, that the people she deemed, “thugs” were the sons and daughters of the oppressed people that elected her into office, crying out of rage and frustration at the fact that the police whom swore to protect them were murdering them. Instead of these official government murders being held accountable for their actions against what is supposed to be law for all, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake blamed the people. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake blamed the people, some would say her people, for being angered and outraged, reacting to the injustice done to them and not herself for not creating a system that would have prevented the injustice from happening to her people. Instead of viewing the reaction of the people, her people, to the murder of Carlos, “Freddie” Gray Jr. and their frustration and calls for justice as thuggery, earlier discussions about oppression and abuse could have served as prevention, and maybe, Carlos, “Freddie” Gray Jr. might be alive today.
The discussion about the struggle against oppression and abuse in America has become cliché to some people including many African Americans like fifty year old former teen actress and D list celebrity Stacey Dash. The discussion is said to be no longer useful in ending the oppression and abuse yet the reality is that the actual oppression and abuse continues to happen. Instead of growing weary of the discussion, the discussion should serve as a wakeup call that more efforts, and different efforts to ending the abuse and oppression need to happen.  The discussion also serves to inform the misinformed like Ms. Dash, as well as future generations about former forms of abuse and how to prevent them from ever happening again. Also, no matter how many times the same thing is said, the repetition should not foster an attitude of apathy like Ms. Dash’s but instead ignite a flame of unquestionably righteous indignation.

©Christopher F. Brown 2016

Works Cited
Alexander, Michelle, and Cornel West. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Revised edition ed. New York: New, 2012. Print.
“Cheney Photographer photo album photoprint 1916.” OMCA COLLECTIONS. Oakland Museum of California, n.d. Web. 10 May 2016. .
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015. Print.
Cummings, Moriba. “Stacey Dash Doesn’t Want a Black History Month or the BET Awards.”, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. .
Dash, Stacey. “Blacks Should Learn a Lesson from the Jews’ Response to the Holocaust.” staceydash. Patheos, 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 May 2016. .
Fang, Marina. “Baltimore Mayor Apologizes For Calling Protesters ‘Thugs’.” Huffpost Politics., Inc, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 May 2016. .
Shakur, Assata. Assata: An Autobiography. Chicago: L. Hill, 1987. Print.
Washington, Booker T., W. E. B Du Bois, and James Weldon Johnson. Three Negro Classics: Up from Slavery. New York: Avon, 1965. Print.
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