Can We All Be Wrong?
For over a year now BLMSacramento, other organizations and individual community members have been in courtroom after courtroom supporting folx, for no other reason except that Law Enforcement narratives continue to cause one to further question and doubt the system. Law enforcement has a history of pitching false narratives to local and national media outlets solely to justify the outrageous nature of their behaviors masked as FEAR. Consequently throughout the world, Black folx are seen as the scum of the earth, no exaggeration.
On Friday, I was sitting with a group of women and we were talking about the view of Blacks by Africans in the diaspora based on imagery and propaganda depicting Blacks as everything other than beautiful and/or good…..and hands down without question Africans in the diaspora will let you know they are Nigerian, Ghanaian, South African, Colombian, Puerto Rican etc., so to disrupt the association with being Black even if they look just like every other Black person in America. I have to then wonder if we learned anything from the 70’s BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL movement. Can we all be wrong that the problem with race relations in America is based on the fact that the SYSTEM hinders progress and success for Black folx, as a whole? Historically the treatment of Black folx was based on an ideology and policy that began with slavery and continues with white supremacy today.
Let me get specific, I am talking about all Black folx because I have come to the realization that even if you do EVERYTHING right and you are Black in America, you are still a target, you are always assumed wrong, you are guilty and there needs to be no proof otherwise. Last month, I wrote our BLOG on my personal experience while watching my own son journey through our criminal justice system. Not just in my opinion, but so many others questioned the asinine conclusion that led to his arrest, much less him being sentenced for a crime with flimsy at best circumstantial evidence that one would think even a first year attorney could fight. On the contrary, our system is setup to rip families apart and leaves them at the mercy of said corrupt systems. I have come to the conclusion that even if we – BLACK FOLX - do everything right……IT WILL NEVER TRULY MATTER, unless countless number of white folx stand up and say otherwise.
For example, my father served this country in the Vietnam War and as a police officer. My mother was a quasi-Black Panther Party member/associate. They both are college educated and we never lived in the projects or hood. Neither of them have criminal records. Both were always gainfully employed, taxpayers, voters, religious and contributed to the communities in which we lived. We always had a vehicle or two or three. My parents stressed the importance of education and put my sister and I in positions to experience a variety of cultural and life lessons. They were that way because they were spoon fed and fell for the okie-doke of what it means to be “good negroes” in theory. You know those Black folx who work and exist under the definition of white supremacy’s definition of success. Those token Blacks who are given passes, who like the “Jeffersons” moved on up to the east side and finally got a piece of the pie. Both of my parents would probably beg to differ with my analysis of their “good Negroe” status in white America because as a unit they taught us to fight injustice.
I have to admit that to a certain degree, I too have fallen for that bullshit of what it means to be successful in America. I too obtained a college degree, married, bought a house, had kids, went to church, work, pay taxes, vote and contribute to my community. Then Rodney King happened and we watched the cops get off. My rebellious spirit wouldn’t let me ignore the hypocrisy in my rearing, because they also taught me that “I am my brother’s keeper” and I marched on the Bay Bridge in response. My frustration was steeped in my 18 year old eyes and first-hand experience of seeing the KKK during an MLK rally while at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA as well as the covert biases I experienced throughout my public education career. The messages were blatant……you are smart and good for a Black girl messages that segregated me from my Black peers. Let my parents tell it, they never wanted segregation, they wanted equality. Instead America threw the bone of segregation at the Black community to pacify and quiet the demand for equity, reparations, justice and power.
Remember the court scene in the movie, “Daddy’s Little Girls” when the community came out in support of Idris Elba’s character? The courtroom was packed, they gave voice to their experience, they were united and they were stronger together. Imagine if we the community packed every courtroom when law enforcement was involved with what could be seen as excessive force or murder. Imagine if we the community could be the jury, judge and executioner to make sure the carriage of justice were fulfilled? If law enforcement officers were actually treated as if they are citizens like the rest of us……..OH BUT AREN’T THEY, just citizens like the rest of us (rhetorical question). Let’s no longer subscribe to the impartiality of white vs black, haves vs have nots, police vs everyday citizens, or everyone else vs those who are Black, vulnerable and/or disenfranchised.
Over the course of this year, I have witnessed first-hand the accused enter courtrooms and stand in cages. Judges, attorneys and bailiffs disrespect their presence, shut their voices down even when asked questions, cookie cutting the un-interruption of court proceedings under the disguise of due process. We have seen public defenders smile and shake hands with prosecuting attorneys for the sake of public justice. I asked the question, can we all be wrong because in actuality it is evident that the goal of the Criminal Justice system is to NOT bringing cases to trial. We have watched the volleying of cases, as if on the tennis court of the US Open. Imagine if every case was actually went to trial and the goal of due process was centered on restorative and community based justice. Instead, time and again people of color are offered punitive deals mostly out of fear of longer prison sentences and not based on the merit of the evidence. Every judge says something along the lines of, “if you take your case to trial, you could end up with the maximum sentence;” and when deals are accepted and a defendant pleads no contest, the judge then says, “you are being sentenced as if you plead guilty.” The system is a joke and it games too many vulnerable, disenfranchised and people of color out of years of their lives.
Every time (which for me is daily) I think of my son or someone says his name, I am reminded that Igzabihair is not alone and that the innocent get convicted too. Can we all take a moment to google Black men in America who have been released after being in prison for years and come to find out they were innocent. Kharon Davis has been in jail for 10+ years in Alabama and has not even gotten the courtesy of a speedy trial, which is a Constitutional right. He has been alienated from his family, penalized with disciplinary segregation since 2014 for claiming his innocence. Igzabihair will serve what is described as a low term sentence, the stain will be on his record for life (innocent or not) and there will likely be no reprieve for time served. Kharon hasn’t gotten his day in court, but has missed out on 10 years. Let’s add up the number of innocent who have served long sentences, plus those who have served short sentences and those who have not gotten trial and sit in jail. Here in lies the problem and I ask again, “can we all be wrong?”
Today, first hand we can witness offenses in the street through the lens of amateur videographers coupled with emotion and commentary, as well the unencumbered dash and body cam footage of law enforcement apparatuses blatantly telling the not-so-secret feelings of cops. Regardless of who committed the offense, the court proves time and again that Black folx don’t get off and law enforcement persons are protected. Speaking of protection, let’s talk about James Nelson who was brutally scarred for life while having a mental health crisis. The majority of the charges have been dropped but there is a “parole violation” in question, the cops with the Citrus Heights police department will likely get off and the taxpayers of this county will pay a large lump sum to Nelson for the lifelong trauma he will remember forever.
This past week St. Louis ex-cop Jason Stockley was found innocent of murder, even though he claimed on tape that he was going to kill Anthony Lamar Smith and then committed the act. This double standard is causing pressure to build and the ticking time bomb is ready to explode. This reality is met with SYSTEMATIC white supremacy and racism that refuse to protect black bodies. Historically, America has proudly in the name of capitalism enslaved, poisoned, robbed, celebrated deaths, detained in camps, ostracized and deported. America’s hand of bigotry will slap you with one hand and rob you blind with the other.
In the meantime, though….. we have work to do. BLM Sacramento is committed to standing in truth and the fire at the same time. We are asking for like-minded folx who see the systematic errors as problematic and life threatening.
· We have to fight for and stand committed to ending the war on BLACK BODIES.
· We have to seek reparations for the harms this government has inflicted on Black folx for centuries.
· We have to divest from and invest in BLACK education, health and safety.
· We have to pursue economic justice through collective ownership.
· We have to gain community control through laws, institutions and policies meant to serve us.
· And we have to demand independent political power through self-determination.
My question of “Can we all be wrong?” and relating that to the number of times we have found ourselves offering court support…….court support is one collective action that speaks volumes to ending the war, seeking reparations through actual justice, divesting from the system and investing in new systems, pursuing collective ownership, effectively gaining community control, and that pressure in and of itself is an action demanding political power. How amazing is that, if we see every action building upon a platform that brings equity for Black folx. At the end of the day, if Black folx win, everyone wins. Hence, the reverberation “Black Lives Matter”……….we can all win and matter together. IF BLACK FOLX DON’T WIN, NOBODY WINS, now live with that.
Coming BLMSacramento Events:
Court Support - Armani Lee
Court Support - James Nelson
Emergency Black Sacramento
Reparations - M4BL workshop
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