“I’m bleeding, I’m not just making conversation.”
“On the surface they seem unrelated: you’ve got racist white citizens who are attacking black people in the streets, and then years or decades later, you have the police acting violently in the black community.
In response to all those riots in the 1910s and 1920s, civil rights commissions were set up in cities, and there was pressure on both local and federal governments to address white vigilantism and white rioting against blacks. And while it was not particularly effective, it certainly had this censuring quality to it. And then what historians would agree happened is that, in so many cities, the police became the proxy for what the white community wants.
So one of the answers is that police became the front line of the white community — or, at least, the most racially conservative white community. It’s the police that are called out, for example, when black people try to integrate white neighborhoods. It’s the police that become that body that defends whites in their homes.
We start the war on crime in 1965, which, of course, is very much in response to these protests by black people. Because politicians decide that protests against things like police brutality are exactly the same thing as crime — that this is disorderly. This is criminal.
And so, police are specifically charged with keeping order and with stopping crime, which has now become synonymous with black behavior in the streets. The police, again, become that entity that polices black boundaries. And I will tell you that one of the most striking things about the media coverage of Ferguson is that they are absolutely doing what they did in the 1960s in terms of the reporting: “This is all about the looters, this is all about black violence.”
Until black life is valued to the same extent white life is by members of law enforcement and by the criminal-justice community, there will be this question of legitimacy of the police and their actions, particularly among black folks who are routinely stopped. And then, people get angry. And then, people do start throwing rocks and bottles. But make no mistake about it: the police don’t use rubber bullets. It’s never a fair fight.
Most people are not being arrested for raping and robbing, murdering and stealing. It’s this low level, oppressive policing of black communities on the basis of marijuana possession. Low-level drug busts. Riding up on people. Throwing them against cars. Not because blacks do drugs more than whites, not because they possess it more, but because black communities are where the over policing is.”
The ugly history of racist policing in America: For Ferguson and St. Louis, it’s much more about the fact that there is an absolute unwillingness to deal with the core issues in American society about equality in the streets: [the principle that] a black citizen and a white citizen really do have equal rights under the laws. Black citizens don’t believe it. They shouldn’t believe it. It’s not true that they have equal rights under the laws. It’s not true that they have the same assumptions of innocence. It’s not true that they have the same assumptions of peaceful countenance.
Full article here.
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
— James Baldwin. I feel it in my bones right now. RIP to Vonderrit Myers. (via socialjusticekoolaid