When Despair Wins

There is a community of young, black activists in Columbus, Ohio, which is mourning today.

They are mourning and they are in shock because one of their foot-soldiers, MarShawn McCarrel, apparently killed himself yesterday. The report say that he killed himself on the steps of the Ohio State House, a location from which many marches have begun.

MarShawn was a poet and an activist, who was fierce about fighting for the dignity of black people. Up close, he was shy and unassuming, polite and well-mannered. To think that he is gone is almost too much to bear.

As I listen to GOP politicians talk about Americans being angry, I am angered because in their dialogues about anger, they do not consider the anger and frustration and sense of despair of black people. Many older black people have learned to manage their hopelessness, but the young people, those in the streets and in the malls and in the courthouses demanding dignity and justice…have not.

Not a single GOP candidate has bothered to mention that the despair of black people is valid. It is a despair with which we have lived for generations. Not Trump, not Rubio, not Cruz, not Christie…none of them seem to give a horse’s ass about what black people go through because of white supremacy.

Not a one of them (of the ones I mentioned) have voiced concern and/or outrage over the lead-filled water given to people in Flint, Michigan, but I would bet that all of them will, in the future, be on some bandwagon to do something with black kids who have behavior problems – forgetting that lead affects people in horrific ways for years. Lead poisoning affects everything from IQ to the ability to have a healthy body. Not a one of these candidates, and too many white people – care about that. They say that they are pro-life, but they only want life for unborn fetuses and for white people.

They want their country back, a country marked by racism, sexism, homophobia and an economy which puts way too many people on the bottom, without thought of what poverty does to people.

They don’t think about what black and brown kids feel when they go into schools that are shoddy and broken, where heat doesn’t work in the winter and air conditioning doesn’t work in the summer. They don’t think about or care about what it must feel like for little black children to see their white counterparts with fine, fancy schools and they are given the worst facilities imaginable.

They don’t care that in many urban schools, the toilets don’t work, the windows are broken, and the books are old. They don’t think that these little children have feelings, and grow up believing they are inferior because they are treated as though they are inferior, like they do not matter.

The kids, the young people, who have taken to the streets, are tired and angry. They are tired of being ignored. Tired of being marginalized. Tired of being shot down or shot at. Tired of being labeled. Tired of getting second best. But none of the GOP candidates talk about that anger. It is only the anger of white people who feel like perhaps they are losing control of their grip on America that seems to matter.

My heart is breaking today because this young man is said to have committed suicide. He fought until he couldn’t fight any longer. His anger turned inward, where it morphed into depression and finally into despair. He went to the place where unjust laws are made, and he killed himself.

Those running for president should care about the despair about all people, not just their base. White anger is no more sacred than is black anger. And black anger in America has a history grounded in the policies and practices meted out because of white supremacy.

In the Bible it says that God will turn our mourning into dancing. I guess God didn’t get to MarShawn soon enough.

A candid observation…

 

 

White Anger, Black Anger

When Newt Gingrich did his “Contract with America” in 1994, it was said to be the result of the anger of Republicans. They were angry at the way government was going; because of big government, the supporters of the contract said, the “American Dream” was out of reach of too many families. The movement was propelled along by white men who were angry; their reasons were their own.

In the Atlantic Constitution in July of this year, there was an article about angry white men; the reporter of the story, Clete Wetli, wrote that “America is finally realizing the true damage caused by far right religious conservatives and the Republican Party who have spent decades fueling and manipulating the hatred of angry white men.” Wetli writes:
They are angry they lost the “War of Northern Aggression”. They are angry that some people get help from the government. They are angry that ‘Mericuh has a black President. They are angry that people have sex for recreation instead of procreation. They are angry that gays are ruining their third marriage. Heck, they are angry that lawn darts were recalled and that women think they should be paid the same as men… in the army! (http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/the_rise_and_fall_of_the_angry.html)

In that article, Wetli writes that white men are angry because “they have to be politically correct and they don’t really know what that means.”

Michael Kimmel, in his book Angry White Men, delves into the reasons white men are angry, noting that much mass violence comes from white men. They feel like history has blindsided them, Kimmel says, and writes:
Today’s Angry White Men look backward, nostalgically at the world they have lost. Some organize politically to restore “their” country; some descend into madness; others lash out violently at a host of scapegoats. Theirs is a fight to restore, to reclaim more than just what they feel entitled to socially or economically — it’s also to restore their sense of manhood, to reclaim that sense of dominance and power to which they also feel entitled. They don’t get mad, they want to get even — but with whom? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-kimmel/americas-angry-white-men_b_4182486.html)

Much has been written about the anger of white men, and in some ways, their anger is given support and the systems in place which have caused and supported white supremacy lend a sympathetic ear, for the most part.

So, yes, we know that white men are angry, even if we do not understand why, given the fact that in this society, and perhaps in this world, they are the most privileged of all people.

But what about the anger of black people?

Nobody likes to talk about that anger; indeed, it is looked upon as a weakness, or worse, to be angry if you are black. President Obama has been careful not to appear “angry;” Michelle Obama was at one point early in the Obama administration characterized as “angry.” Black anger is deemed to be wrong, unreasonable, misplaced and misguided. Anger at having endured oppression sanctioned by the government has been flicked off, and black people have been told to “just get over it.”

But how can black people not be angry?

The latest assault to the soul of Black America came just yesterday with the Grand Jury in Cleveland refusing to indict the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Within seconds, that child, holding a toy gun, was gunned down by trigger happy (perhaps angry) white police officers. He lay on the ground and his sister, who wanted to go to his aid, was roughed up and handcuffed by those same officers.
He was a child, for goodness’ sake, holding a toy gun in an open carry state. The police shot first and asked questions later.

And this has been the history of black people and law enforcement in this country for decades.

Why in the world would anyone think black people should not be angry?

Anthony Ray Hinton, falsely accused and convicted of murder and who spent 30 years in solitary confinement on Death Row, said that when he was arrested, the officer told him he would be convicted, even though he, the police officer admitted that Hinton had “probably not” committed the crime of which he was accused. Why would he be convicted? Hinton said the officer said, “because you are being accused by a white man, because the prosecutor is white, because the judge will be white, because the jury will be white, and because your court-appointed attorney will be white.”

Most black people do not get that kind of up-front, in-your-face admission of white oppression, but it has existed for decades. Black people have endured being treated like objects in this country blacks built – free labor given at the behest of white people – and have endured never being given credit for that same work. Black parents have pushed through and found ways for their children to get a decent education in spite of despicable public schools in their neighborhoods. Black people have endured the humiliation of being sought to fight for this country and being denied basic rights once their service to this country was completed.

Why in the world would black people not be angry?

It is one of the biggest ironies in this nation that angry white people rebelled against their British oppressors because they hated being oppressed, but those same angry white people have not been able to understand or appreciate the anger of black people who are likewise tired of being oppressed.

Is it that black people are still seen as being sub-human, with no capacity to feel pain?

The mother and family of Tamir Rice were already devastated by the fact that he was killed by police …for just being black but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, looked upon as a beast and not a child…but now they have to endure, as have so many black parents, the indignity of this system saying that his death was the result of justifiable force rendered by police. It’s the same song black parents have heard for decades.

This government has not ever protected black people; it in fact participated in thousands of lynchings over the years. It has passed laws that protect the right of white people to oppress black people.

So, why is it a problem that black people are angry?

Could any of the angry white men survive a nanosecond under the kind of oppression that white America has rendered to black people, with government support?

I think not.

Maybe it’s white men …who should get over it.

A candid observation ….

Justice Denied

As an African-American, I find myself ever wishing and hoping for …justice for our people killed by law enforcement officers…but it almost never comes.

Yesterday, the officers who shot and killed John Crawford in a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, were not indicted. In spite of the fact that Crawford was holding a toy gun in a store where it is OK to carry guns …he was gunned down and his killers will go free. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/john-crawford-iii_n_5876574.html)

The names of the officers are, by the way, Sgt. David Darkow and Officer Dean Williams.

There is always “something” that we the public “don’t get.” There’s always a “reason” why African-Americans are gunned down and killed by police, and the “reason’ is enough to clear the officers of any wrongdoing.  The grand jury must have seen something, heard the “something” that we, the public, “don’t get.” They found that the officers’ actions were justified. No excessive force…

We in the African-American community have seen police work in our neighborhoods; we have seen and heard the harassment, the taunting and daring officers give in our communities. They do not protect us. They seem to feel we don’t deserve protection.

Instead, they goad our people, especially our young people …and then blame them for any altercation that might ensue or, ultimately, any shooting death that might occur.

When Rodney King was attacked by police officers years ago, I, for one, rejoiced because the beating was caught on tape. Now, I thought, the people will see how police treat African-Americans. They will be arrested, I again thought erroneously. They will lose their jobs. They will be held accountable.

But the justice I thought would be a no-brainer did not come. The officers were cleared of wrongdoing …and the African-American community in Los Angeles went up in flames.

I have been holding my breath as the grand jury in Ferguson has been out, considering the future of Darren Wilson. Officer Darren Wilson. There is nothing in me that believes he will be indicted.

But in the case of the officers who shot John Crawford, I thought, just like I thought when Rodney King was beaten, that surely these guys who shot Crawford would be made to answer for their actions. That would have been justice. But, as usual, it is justice …denied.

When Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam killed Emmett Till there was a trial …but it was a farce. An all-white jury found the two white assailants innocent…and took only minutes to come to their “verdict.”  Later, they arrogantly confessed in an article which appeared in Look Magazine. They were arrogant, cocky, unrepentant…Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, who insisted that the world see what these men had done to her son, never got justice. What agony she must have felt for the rest of her life.

I would imagine that the officers in Crawford’s death are likewise feeling on top of the world today. Arrogant, Cocky. Ready to get back to work, feeling like they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

People have said to African-Americans, “Wait. Don’t jump to conclusions before “the facts” are known. Let the system work.”

Thing is, we’ve been waiting for “the system” to work in our favor for some time. Mothers and fathers, wives and children, have been robbed of justice in the deaths of their loved ones which has come at the hands of “law enforcement” for literally decades in this nation. In addition to weeping over the loss of their loved one, they have wept and are continuing to weep over the fact that the assailants have been cleared of wronging and are free. I call that justice …denied.

“The law” in America is held up as sacrosanct. If one is truly American, one obeys “the law.” And if one doesn’t, one should expect to be punished.

But that proclamation seems only to hold for certain situations. White people in the South ignored “the law” when the federal government ordered schools to be integrated after Brown vs Board of Education.  Some governors closed schools rather than integrate them. “The law” didn’t apply to them, they decided, …and they were none the worse for it.

Word: Whenever a person or a family has justice denied, there is deep pain, then deep frustration, followed by depression…and then anger. The anger amongst African-Americans is bubbling, America. Can’t you feel it?

I can.

A candid observation …