Rarely have I had a discussion with sisters regarding what qualities they desire in a man that does not include them stating that two of their top three requirements are that he must be a provider and a protector. Put simply, he needs to be able to bring home the bacon and provide a modicum of protection for those under his charge. Failure to do so will most assuredly compromise one’s standing as a man within the African-American community.
It is this contention that a “real man” offers protection that makes the shooting down of African-American males all the more troubling and disconcerting. One does not have to delve into this matter very far to come up with the query that if African-American males can not protect themselves against marauding police officers, how in the world will they protect those looking to them for leadership and protection.
One could very well fashion an argument, although I believe that they would be wholly incorrect, that ‘the boys in blue’ emasculate African-American males on a daily basis. Many African-American males are understandably afraid of officers and will take evasive action anytime America’s storm troopers arrive in their midst; including running away without having committed any crime at all. However, the alluded to fear fails to curtail the innate desire of the vast majority of African-American males to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Many privately muse, if only they had the opportunity to exert their agency and show that they are protectors, that their lives matter. For many of them, their participation in the Baltimore rebellion is the closest that they will ever come to their political voice being heard by a hostile white majority that usually ignores them.
I have lived long enough and studied history diligently enough to recognize that perspective means everything during any conflict. The recent urban rebellion in Baltimore Maryland is a classic case of how perspective affects our judgment.
For example, if one viewed the American Revolution from the colonists’ perspective, George Washington is a heroic figure that should be lauded by all of those who love freedom, while the British would consider this same figure a treasonous traitor who learned military science at their foot and then used it against them. The divergent perspectives are attributable to perspective.
Maybe another example will convince you of my general point. An individual who throws a Molotov Cocktail into a crowded café that results in the deaths of innocent civilians is simultaneously hailed as a hero and villain for the same action by those who have a differing relationship to the reason, or cause, that the bomb was hurled.
It is this issue of perspective that causes Americans to either denounce the aforementioned rebellion as a case of thugs having their two minutes of fame or assume H. Rap Brown’s perspective that the action is a valorous revolutionary statement that must be replicated throughout the nation by all oppressed populations.
After much reflection, I am now certain that I will never understand why many Americans are so shocked that a population of individuals who perceive their destinies to be inextricably woven together took the initiative and struck out against those who have oppressed them for centuries. Ironically, those who willingly entered Baltimore’s mean streets are operating out of the tradition that birthed this nation; put simply, they are assuming the role of this nation’s ‘founding fathers’ and fighting against tyranny ‘by any means necessary.’ The ‘founding fathers’ determination to not be the slaves of Great Britain caused figures such as Patrick Henry to publicly express their angst by shouting, “give me freedom or give me death.”
There is a popular mantra that exists within activist circles that states ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ It is obvious by their repeated actions that have led to the repetitive occurrence of African-American male’s deaths throughout the nation that law enforcement agencies have been absolutely corrupted; even ‘good cops’ understand that their careers, if not their lives, are dependent upon them towing the company line.
So as white America seeks to generate a plausible explanation that contradicts the commonsense conclusion that Mr. Freddie Gray was murdered by officers, Black Baltimore, who has witnessed several generations of people who look just like them have their righteous indignation muted via a wicked cocktail of oppression that includes, among other things, a lack of education, absence of political connections, and a gross lack of economic resources take their angst to the streets. Maybe now the nation will finally hear them.
And for those who out of fear will automatically relate that riots are not the way to get their point across, I will close this piece with the reverberating words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who remarked. “It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”
I ask again, “CAN YOU HEAR THEM NOW?”
Or do they need to repeat their statement throughout this nation? I am absolutely certain that they would honor such a request.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015