I was recently having drinks with friends somewhere in Brooklyn when the conversation, as all meaningful conversations should, moved to the subject of protest, both global and domestic. After discussing recents events in the West Bank and in Hong Kong, we quickly focused in on Ferguson (pre-no indictment), specifically regarding the aftermath of the looting and damaged property. The question was asked rightfully, “what are your thoughts regarding community owners of the small businesses whose properties were damaged in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting?” I’ve given this very question considerable thought in the past, referencing the Watts riots, the reaction to the police attack on Rodney King and other similar events. My response to my bar-mates was then and continues to be, that the destruction of black communities by black people, is comparable to self-immolation. That is to say, that the destruction of our communities at our own hands is meant to be read as a visceral suffering by both community members and outsiders alike. It’s a shared anguish we all feel when viewing video of a living human body in flames. Our communities are an extension of our bodies and they are ignited in the deepest and most tragic moments of despair.
First, let me just state for the record, Charles Barkley is a moron. And the sad reality of his naivety is that even his uninformed comments cast a looming shadow, and not an intelligent one, on the black community. It seems that he doesn’t understand that he benefits by proxy from the civil unrest that is taking place in Ferguson and around the country. It’s because of black civil unrest that he is afforded the benefit of the doubt by his white counter parts. It is because the rage has been so great and uncontainable that the nation and world, stops and listens. I asked this question several weeks ago on twitter (@nowblackup) “would anyone be covering this story if it were nonviolent?” I think recent history can answer this for us, when we look back to last summer in the wake of Treyvon Martin’s murder. All the peaceful protest in the world didn’t keep the story in the headlines for very long. Fuck peaceful protest! How often does the United Nations chime-in on matters of racial inequality in america? To all of you talking heads that keep using your trite civics class convictions about MLK and his nonviolent marches. Need I remind you that MLK was assassinated? When someone is murdered, the events are no longer peaceful nor are they nonviolent.
There are members of the black community that like to participate in the self-masturbatory exercise of stating that they are not like “them”. “Them” of course being the media sanctioned scary black people living across the country. And, yes, there is truth to this claim. We are not all the same. Yes, we are black people. Yes, we are mostly all decedents of slaves. But the real response to this statement should be who gives a fuck?! Outside of the individual blacks clawing their way to distinguish themselves from the black person next to them. Honestly who really cares?! We are and forever will be viewed as a monolithic group, deal with it. Regardless of our highest personal achievements, we are all viewed for the misdeeds of a small percentage of bad apples within our community. For anyone that has diluted themselves to the point of thinking “I’ve made it in america” you’re a bigger fool than your ego allows you to accept. When the NYPD, or cops in general, need to meet their monthly numbers, they don’t care if you’re educated, a nurturing stay-at-home dad, nor do they care about what position you hold at your place of work. All they see is black. And we have all been told that black people commit most of the crime in the country, so you have no reason to question the “legitimacy” of a cop walking with a handcuffed black person in tow. The harsh reality is that in all conflicts there will be collateral damage and there is no difference in our current state of affairs. My belief is that the potential benefits of having grievances of the black community heard, outweighs the lost in property damage. Grocery stores and beauty shops can be rebuilt through the recourse of property and business insurance. The March on Washington occurred in 1963, can we really afford to live in a country for another 51 years having the same discussions about racial injustice and inequality? I would unequivocally say no. The sum total of being second class citizens is much costlier than the financial lost from property damage sustained by any community resource.