Quite possibly, the most frustrating aspect of the entire Ferguson, Missouri, incident is the inability of Americas Black and white citizens to have an honest discussion regarding the daunting race issue that W.E.B. Du Bois termed “the problem of the twentieth-century.” This issue has served as a supreme disruption and even greater domestic contradiction to this nation from the moment that Thomas Jefferson penned that “All Men Are Created Equal” in the Declaration of Independence. Even Jefferson, the primary voice behind colonists pursuit of independence from what they termed tyrannical British rule, assumed a hypocritical posture by refusing to free his enslaved Africans, choosing instead to maintain his status as a prominent member of the slave holding South.
The racial strife that mars America was alive and well on the North American continent prior to the Declaration of Independence. Put simply, racism is a load bearing wall in this nation’s construction. Make no mistake about it, the foremost catalyst to contemporary racial discord flows from this nations refusal to acknowledge this sordid past. The aforementioned refusal to deal with the pernicious issue of race is the main reason that Black and white Americans will remain at each others throat regardless of what the Ferguson Grand Jury decides regarding officer Darren Wilson’s culpability in Michael Brown’s death.
During a recent conversation with a random white woman who previously served as a ‘law enforcement officer’ and was currently an avid reader of my blog Manhood, Race, and Culture, I recognized that regardless of my intention to discuss the Ferguson, Missouri, issue from a detached and unemotional point of view, it was impossible. My failure to discuss this matter from a detached and objective perspective is attributable to both of the individuals involved in the conversation; I am certain that she felt the same way once the conversation ended. The conversation spiraled into an absurd tragic racial comedy once she fired what I considered the initial shot at the supporters of Michael Brown by boisterously asserting that if the Black teen had followed Darren Wilson’s orders, from her perspective he was a legitimate authority figure, he would be alive today. I quickly retorted something about officers, regardless of their race, having no credibility and therefore no authority from the perspective of the vast majority of African-Americans, ‘including yours truly.’ Minutes into the conversation, she exasperatingly asked, “Is there any way that the Black community will accept the Grand Jury decision if it is not in their favor?” I simplistically related, “there is no way that we will accept such a decision. Neither you, nor a Grand Jury will ever get us to believe that Darren Wilson did not murder Michael Brown.” I believe that we both tired of the wicked dance that Black and white citizens perform on a moment-by-moment basis and decided to end the conversation.
I am certain that she desired for me to understand that this nation has mechanisms, such as the Grand Jury system, that were created to deal with situations such as these and that as citizens we must honor their decision, even when it is not in our favor. She apparently did not possess the ability to comprehend that there was absolutely no way that I, or the droves of other politicized African-Americans, would ever agree to such. Put simply, we have too much at stake for such a Faustian Deal, most notably our lives and those that we love; fathers, sons, nephews, daughters, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances. The insinuation that America’s justice system will ever treat African-Americans fairly is ludicrous from our perspective. What this lady could never comprehend is that the vast majority of African-Americans view contemporary law enforcement officers with the same disdain that our ancestors viewed the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist organizations.
White Americans are having extreme difficulty comprehending that African-Americans do not have the luxury of viewing the deaths of Bobby Hutton (1968), Mark Clark (1969), Fred Hampton (1969), Eleanor Bumpurs (1984) Amadou Diallo (1999), Sean Bell (2006) Eric Garner (2014), Mike Brown (2014), Tanesha Anderson (2014), as singular incidents. We process the repeated murder of African-Americans by law enforcement officers through a different prism that follows an internal intuition that tells us that these are not singular events, rather a dastardly unmistakable pattern that any African-American, regardless of age, gender, educational level, marriage status, or politicization could find themselves included in.
So as we await the ‘Grand Jury’s’ decision regarding the murder of Mike Brown, white America must realize that from the African-American perspective this incident is not viewed as a singular incident; rather, yet another chapter in the 400 plus year African Holocaust.
From my perspective, African-American leaders consistent calls for white America to apologize for the historic persecution and economic exploitation of African-Americans via some form of reparations is foolish, particularly when one considers that those they are seeking recompense from are still murdering our people in American streets. I am certain that many whites will chime in that they have never murdered anyone, however, they fail to recognize that their silence on such matters makes them complicit. Although I know that a public apology, let alone some form of reparations is considered unconscionable for the vast majority of whites, I would be willing to accept a goodwill gesture of them pledging to stop murdering Black people for ridiculous of reasons such as: knocking on their front door (Renisha McBride), listening to their music too loudly (Jordon Davis), or raising their hands above their heads (Michael Brown).
I will not hold my breath in regards to this request because they are still murdering Black people in this American streets; just ask any random African-American who resides in urban America regarding this matter and I guarantee you that they have either lost a loved one or have been personally violated by so-called officers of the law.
James Thomas Jones, Ph.D., M.A., M.A., M.A.