Tag Archives: Death by Law Enforcement Officer

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

How Silence in the face of Racial Injustice Makes the Entire White Race Guilty of the Crime in Black Minds

I am quite certain that the family of Walter Scott, the African-American man who was shot in the back while fleeing from former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager, walter-scott-1realized that the struggle to get some level of ‘justice’ through the American criminal justice system would be nearly impossible. They not only engaged this system that has historically proven to be non-responsive to the needs and issues of Black America, especially where it involves white law enforcement officers, but also have emerged with their pride and dignity in the face of what can only be considered an unconscionable defeat.

After nearly a full week of deliberating this matter, the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. Making the jury’s failure incredulous is that the April 4th, 2015, murder was captured on video; leaving no doubt that Michael Slager needlessly fired several bullets into Walter Scott as he attempted to flee.

Sadly, I do not think that any American, regardless of their racial or ethnic identity is shocked that a jury with eleven whites failed to return with a guilty verdict. I am quite confident that the verdict was less of a shock to whites than their African-American counterparts. I assert this for one simple reason; there is no doubt that whites know their people at a level that African-Americans will never come close to understanding, after all, we are not present to hear the real contents of their hearts when they are speaking behind closed doors.

If African-Americans would only take a moment to reflect upon the frequently closed door conversations that we have regarding American racial matters, it would make sense that whites have similar conversations. Dare I say that these conversations regarding race issues occur far more frequently among that community than they do among an African-American populace that often dismissively sums up their view of their racial opponents with short quips such as “that’s white folk for you.”

To be honest, one of my greatest frustrations regarding ‘good white folk’ michael-slageris that they frequently display an extraordinary patience with the worst elements of their populace for the sake of decorum and respectability. It is this tendency to “stay above board” and not get into the gutter with a vocal minority that provides African-Americans with the evidence needed to characterize white folks as monolithic on Race matters. Anger and disappointment frequently prevent African-Americans from differentiating ‘good white folk’ from those other segments of their community.

Although it may be difficult for you to believe, I do not think that all white folk is involved in either a conspiracy or a hunt to hurt, harm, and malign African-Americans. Life has taught me that there is significant diversity to be found among the white community in regards to racial matters; I know of a white colleague who has displayed the courage to publicly state that the source of racism is the white community.

It is that courage ‘to speak truth to power’ that is often missing from the white community. In those moments when a vocal minority is expressing disagreeable views and concepts into public spaces, they remain silent and thereby open themselves up to being guilty by association.

I hope that you agree that it is time for ‘good white folk’ to be as public and forthright in their denouncement of prejudice and discrimination as their misguided brethren are committed to doing the opposite.

Good white folk needs to heed the advice of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass who advised his fellow countrymen “For it’s not light that is needed, but fire; it’s not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind and the earthquake in our hearts.”

Roll, Thunder, Roll.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2016