Friday, April 25, 2008

::The ballad of Sean Bell::



Breaking news: Queens, New York detectives Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver, and Marc Cooper were acquitted of all charges in the murder of Sean Bell. Judge Arthur J. Cooperman stated just before he delivered the verdict that the "police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal."

I'm not going to do a lengthy post on this. It's apparent that this is a blatant example of injustice at the hands of our government. Many people may not be surprised by this verdict. Need we be reminded that this overt display of injustice comes a mere 4 days before the 17th anniversary of the Rodney King verdict in California and 9 years after the Amadou Diallo tragedy in the Bronx?

Many people only see race as a factor in this disturbing case, yet it traverses those boundaries. After all, only one of the detectives charged with Sean Bell's murder was white. This is really about law enforcement's egregious abuse of power and the legislative branch's flexible use of the trope of blind justice.

Beneath the surface, an ominous tension is berewing like a viscous witches' brew. When it boils over, how will the government react. The fire next time won't be so easy to contain. It just may burn out of control. Though I'm trying hard to be civil, something inside me is ready to rage against the machine. The ending sociopolitical rant of Erykah Badu's "Twinkle" comes to mind(diologue borrowed from the 1976 motion picture, Network):

I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU THINGS AREN'T GOOD.
EVERYBODY KNOWS THINGS AREN'T GOOD!
WE KNOW THE AIR'S UNFIT TO BREATHE,
AND OUR FOOD IS UNFIT OT EAT!
YOUNG PUNKS ARE RUNNING THE STREET
NO ONE KNOWS JUST WHAT TO DO
AND THERE'S NO END TO IT!
THE DOLLAR BUYS A PENNYS WORTH!
BANKS ARE GOING UNDER
CONGRESS ARE KEEPING A GUN UNDER THE COUNTER!
WE SIT WATCHING OUR IDIOT BOXES
WHILE SOME LOCAL ANCHOR MAN TELLS US THAT
TODAY WE'VE HAD 18 MURDERS AND 80 VIOLENT CRIMES,
AS IF THAT WAS THE WAY THINGS WAS SUPPOSE TO BE!
WE KNOW TIMES ARE BAD!
WORSE THAN BAD!
PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!
ITS LIKE EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE
IS GOING UTTERLY MAD!
SO WE NEVER LEAVE OUR HOMES!
WE SIT IN OUR COMFY ABODES
WHILE THE WORLD IS GETTING SMALLER
AND WE SAY, "COME ON!
AT LEAST LEAVE US ALONE IN OUR FAMILY ROOMS!
LET ME HAVE MY MICROWAVE
AND FLATSCREEN AND MY 20 INCH RIMS
AND I WON'T SAY ANYTHING!
JUST LEAVE US ALONE!"
WELL I'M NOT GONNA LEAVE YOU ALONE!!!
I WANT YOU TO GET ANGRY!!!!
I DON'T WANT YOU TO RIOT,
I DON'T WANT YOU TO PROTEST,
I DON'T WANT YOU TO WRITE YOUR SENATOR
BECAUSE I WON'T KNOW WHAT TO TELL YOU TO TELL HIM!!
I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE RECCESSION
AND THE INFLATION, AND THE CRIME IN THE STREET!!
ALL I KNOW IS THAT YOU'VE GOT TO GET MAD!!!
YOU'VE GOT TO SAY, "I'M A HUMAN BEING DAMMIT!
MY LIFE HAS VALUE!"


Thirty-two years later, those words still resonate. But who is ultimately to blame for the state of our society? In a post 9-11 world, racial profiling is on the upswing and distrust amongst citizens increases with each piece of propaganda. But should that justify the killing of innocent citizens? John Locke and Thomas Hobbes must be rolling in their graves.

This is an issue of human interest that expands beyond the confines of race, class, ethnicity, and gender. In the words of James Brown, we need to all get the hell up, get into it, and get involved.

Stay tuned for info on rallies and protest marches...

2 comments:

Nubianus said...

SB, you're right on target-- didn't know this coincided so closely with the Rodney King anniversary.

I have some sympathy for cops in general, they have a tough job with tough calls, but this was just inexcusable. I have white, Latino and Asian friends backing us up on this, so this is hardly an unusual conclusion. This was, without any doubt, a horrendous act against a human being, and a decent one at that, taking care of his family. While accounts vary, Sean Bell seems to have been reasonably afraid that he was being carjacked-- the undercover officer did not identify himself, and when Bell and Guzman took off like that, they were doing so in the fear that they were being attacked, not running away from an arrest. Besides, why shoot 50 times against someone who's obviously fleeing? It's so frustrating that this was given short shrift.

Despite the anger we all justifiably have due to the injustice of the Sean Bell case, we need to harness this anger toward productive uses.

If things are ever going to improve for African-Americans, we have to redouble our efforts to gain social, political and economic power here.

Remember, time and demographics are both on our side. Whites now have a birth rate well below replacement in the USA, while the African-American population grows steadily both by natural growth and immigration from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Even some Blacks immigrating to the USA from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. (BTW if any of you can speak Spanish and/or Portuguese, please encourage our Black brethren in Latin America, especially from Brazil, to emigrate to the USA. There’s strength in numbers.)

I know Blacks and Latinos have often been at loggerheads, but we’re natural allies-- both fighting against White oppression, with Latinos having been invaded in multiple wars by the Anglos in Florida, the Mexican-American War and Spanish-American War. Latinos lost half of Mexico when Anglos invaded in 1848, and were ethnically cleansed by Anglos so that they could start slavery in the conquered territories. Blacks and Latinos today are natural partners in the fight for social justice, both fighting for affirmative action and against discrimination. Spanish is an easy language to learn, and the more that we reach out to each other, speak some Spanish ourselves, and support our Latino brothers and sisters, the more our alliance is cemented.

I’d say if anything, the key for us is to gain political power, and to do that, it’s best to concentrate ourselves geographically a bit more in a few states, where we will soon be the majority. On the one hand, we need Blacks throughout the country to demand our rights, but on the other, a better geographical focus is the key to political power, as it is throughout the world’s democratic countries.

IOW, we need to have our own “North American Nubia” where we have a demographic majority and political power. Some Deep South States are obvious candidates-- Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana for example, all of which will soon be Black-majority within perhaps a decade. This would be a core of our nation.

But we can have a second North American Nubia (or North American Africana, whichever name you prefer) in the Upper Midwest-- Michigan is one of the Blackest states in the Union, and much of Illinois is also strongly African-American in demographics, culture and social importance.

Some of my homies from college have even urged conversion to Islam for African-Americans. It’s not something I’ve considered myself, though I’ll acknowledge that at least for many urban African-Americans, they’ve done quite well after the conversion. Many having been in jail or kept out of jail, they become more focused and disciplined, as fathers they take care of their Black children and care better for Black women, stay away from drugs and violence and so forth. (interesting link a friend sent to me-- The Nubian Manifesto )

IMHO there are many different personal routes we can take for empowerment, but as a group, we must stay strong and focused and, again, have enough of a geographic concentration that we can gain political power. Just as we should ally with Latinos as they become the majority in their own homelands in Southwestern states and Florida, so should Blacks ally with Muslims in Michigan (who will soon be the majority in that state).

It’s obvious from our people’s history here, that we’ll survive only by standing up for ourselves. Political and economic empowerment are the central aspects of this.

Superbizzee said...

Yo, I agree with a lot of your commentary. I am also of the mind that since most ethnic groups are subjugated under this false premise of racial superiority, we should band together.

I've often wondered why this has yet to come to fruition. But I went to a presentation on campus a few weeks ago given by, as he jestingly referred to himself, an "old white man from Louisiana." His presentation on the construction of race in the U.S. brought clarity to my thoughts on this issue.

He explained that ethnicities have not banded together en mass because racial stratification has ben purposely increased since the immigration floodgates have opened in the U.S. By further pitting these races against each other instead of highlighting their commonalities, the chance for an uprising or insurrection is lessened.

I guess so far it has worked. One could go as far as to say that the Hispanic immigrant community in California and Texas exemplified that during the 2008 primaries a few months ago.

But as I said, this is really a human issue. Anyone who wants a little more history on the effects of police brutality across the lines of color and ethnicity should try and see the documentary "Every Mother's Son." Great film.