today in black history

June 23, 2024

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born on this date in 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia.

Analysis: Why are we Surprised?

POSTED: June 04, 2020, 12:40 pm

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Turn on any television network or local television station and you will hear expressions of shock and outrage over the violence that has been unleashed in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As for me, I am surprised it has taken this long for there to be this level of intensity in outrage over the killing of a Black person by a police officer. The frequency by which Black people have been murdered by law enforcement officers has anesthetized the American public, up until now. Like a patient coming out of a coma, our nation appears to be in the process of reawakening. What changed?

The killing of George Floyd was so barbaric and grotesque that it has touched the innermost consciousness of people, including some who heretofore expressed little interest in confronting police brutality. The sight of a grown man, in obvious pain from the force of a knee on his neck and knees on his back and crying out for his mother was more than the senses could handle. In that moment of agony, that moment of death, the accumulated pain of a community was set loose. George Floyd represented a history of Black death, the roll call of the hundreds of victims who have been sent to their graves by individuals who swore to “protect and serve.”

The violence we see is the righteous expression of the futility and pain of living Black in America. I try not to explain it much further, condone it or condemn it. I simply accept it for what it is. I have never understood the violence of war or terrorism. Yet, it is part of our reality. I do know that the violence in reaction to the killing of George Floyd has been suppressed for decades. For too many years Blacks have been taught to conceal and contain our anger and rage. It is one of the reasons why violence has persisted within our community. We have released anger only when allowed, and it has been directed inward, and there has been no consideration given to our healing and recovery.

Were there outside agitators involved in the looting of stores? Most likely yes, as there always tend to be in large public demonstrations when emotions run high. What I refuse to believe is that the violence is being coordinated by a ‘leftist’ group like Antifa. That is a convenient ruse by a fascist president who seeks to exploit the legitimate outrage over the murder of George Floyd. I believe that many of the White faces we see in the crowds are people who oppose police brutality and some who harbor resentment over economic dislocation and other inequities. America’s knee has been on the necks of many for some time, so it would be no surprise to me to have people who have attached their personal grievances to the protests over Floyd’s death. Are some who are looting simply cashing in on the legitimate pain of others? Absolutely, but that does not diminish the righteousness of those who are expressing legitimate outrage over the horrific killing of George Floyd.

“For too many years Blacks have been taught to conceal and contain our anger and rage. It is one of the reasons why violence has persisted within our community.”

America wants Black people to deal with their pain peacefully and quietly. It has been that way since the enslavement of Africans. There has never been any compassion for Blacks who suffer under the weight of racism and hate in America. There is an assumption within the white supremacy framework that Black bodies are not human and that any pain inflicted is justified so long as it achieves the goal of preserving White entitlement. It is why lynching Black people was so easily justified by Bible-carrying Whites and calling dogs on Black children and using high powered water hoses on Blacks was simply calculated as the cost of preserving whiteness. Our pain has never mattered to most Whites in America. The response “All Lives Matter” is a repudiation and negation of the history of Black suffering. Most Whites cannot see Black pain because they do not see us a human. A combination of pseudo-science and junk theology has embedded in the DNA of White Americans a callousness and inhumanity toward Black skin that does not allow for consideration of any White crimes committed against our humanity.

It requires a deep dissonance to not understand the visceral reaction to the murder of George Floyd. We watched a Black man die under the knee of a police officer as the officer’s colleagues held him down and one colleague stood watch and did nothing. The visual of Floyd’s death and the smugness of the officers who killed him is what provoked the violent protests across the country. We watched a murder in cold blood. We knew he was dead before the ambulance arrived. The violence of his death deserved this reaction. We are sick and tired, and all patience with this brutality against us has been exhausted. We have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers to protect. This is the last warning this nation gets because it will be the ‘fire next time” and it will burn until there is nothing left of this country.

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