What Black America should do about the Acquittal of Betty Shelby

Although I am certainly not desensitized to this predictable pattern of unarmed black men having their lives extinguished by white law enforcement officer’s who are then exonerated by a jury; however, if I were a betting man, I do know where I would place my bet when such cases occur. Desensitized I am not, cynical about the entire process, most certainly.

The recent acquittal of Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Shelby for the shooting of unarmed Terence Crutcher is unsurprising. I, along with the vast majority of black America, long ago abandoned any faith in this nation’s criminal justice system. If nothing else, the repetitious nature of these cases proves that African-American lives are in peril by a tyrannical white majority encamped around them. Put simply, from the moment of their arrival under the control of Europeans, persons of African descent have always existed under a unique set of rules and regulations. Although they have consciously chosen to avoid the obvious solution to their unique problems, the truth behind African-American liberation is relatively simple; unless they do something definitive, their position as second-class citizens will never come to an end.

Let’s be honest; we have seen this traveling play of a white officer using lethal violence against an unarmed black man so often that the script has become formulaic. Consider the following order of events and see if it does not reflect the sordid tale behind the killings of a host of black men,

  • African-American male has a random encounter with a white officer.
  • For the white officer, the conflict with this unknown African-American male began long before this encounter as the law enforcement officer’s socialization and training have preloaded him with copious amounts of prejudicial thoughts and stereotypical views.
  • White law enforcement officers pre-existing thoughts facilitate an uncontrollable fear that leads to their adoption of a “shoot first and ask questions later.”
  • White officer kills unarmed and defenseless black male
  • The criminal investigation leads to the officer being charged by a District Attorney whose actions are strategic maneuvers not to secure a conviction, rather appease an angered black populace whose only means of responding to injustice is burning down their community.
  • The White officer is acquitted of the crime.
  • The victim remains dead.
  • The family and loved one’s, along with notable black celebrities, oops I meant leaders, crying foul on CNN and MSNBC.
  • Black activists aspiring to displace national level leaders on CNN and MSNBC lead their community in unproductive protests that allow them to achieve little more than blowing off steam, talk tough to whites who are not present to hear their rhythmic lamentations, and then allow their followers to return to mundane lives that are heavily monitored by the same law enforcement authorities that caused the problem in the first place.
  • African-American male has a random encounter with a white officer; I am sure that you recognize the cycle.

In many ways, the pattern of black men being murdered by white officers has proven to be a reoccurring situation that neither national level black leaders nor grassroots oriented protest movements have been able to ameliorate. The alluded to ineffectiveness guarantees that black men will continue to be murdered in American streets by white law enforcement authorities. If nothing else, one would expect for black activists to abandon failed strategies and move toward the formulation of new strategy.

Obviously, there is no other path forward than the abandonment of an activist tradition of black leaders’ behaving as ambulance chasing lawyers seeking clients. As has been mentioned before in this space, but also from Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Minister Farrakhan, and a host of other thinkers across the past two centuries, African-Americans must cease “traditional” activist pursuits and turn their attention toward the organization of disorganized and dormant political currency.

The alluded to path forward must include:

  • An unparalleled dedication to destroying the following illiteracies within our community.
    • Political
    • Cultural
    • Historical
    • Economic
  • The development of unprecedented group solidarity in regards to politics and economics.
  • A significant increase in the black community’s financial support of independent black schools.
  • The development of understanding between the need to support black businesses and the responsibilities of black business owners to support the community.
  • An abandonment of reactionary politics.

There is quite simply no other path forward for African-Americans. The time for serious definitive action passed long ago; it is time that we forge a new reality in the present as preparation for a glorious future.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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