The Mike Brown Killing: It’s Much Too Late for Angry Words by Kobie Colemon

violence-erupts-ferguson-missouri

This image will be an iconic reminder of  how the people of Ferguson, MO, responded to Mike Brown’s cold blooded killing. 

A few things I think I know about the police violence and Black protest in Ferguson, MO. First, when Black people are the victims of police brutality and murder, it is the murderers who are humanized and the Blacks who are dehumanized. There is a strange equivocation where the same rhetoric is used to exonerate one group of people (the police), while denigrating another (Black people). You all know the rhetoric; on the one hand it speaks of “flawed individuals” in police departments everywhere – but especially in areas with a large Black demographic. Racist people who happen to be police officers and thus they are able to practice their personal prejudice and racism with power and impunity. Thankfully, so the rhetoric goes, these racist cops are in the minority, and thus not representative of the police force as a whole, which is full of “good” people who are simply trying to do their jobs.

On the other hand, the “flawed” individual who is Black and the victim of police brutality/murder, if he (and it is usually a “he,” but increasingly “she”) is not representative of the entire group (though he is often portrayed this way), then he is portrayed in such a way as to actually justify his harassment and death. The “flawed” Black individual is not “one of the good ones.” He is a shoplifter and a weed smoker, at least they hope he is, because possession of these attributes – a jaywalker? – along with the requisite black skin somehow justifies his harassment and murder. Greg Howard covered this point in an excellent article he wrote for Deadspin where he tried to bring true humanity to the portrayal of ubiquitous Black victims of brutality. Conversely, and as it pertains to their crimes against Black people, why anyone would attempt to humanize the “fraternal order” of police is beyond me.

In any case, to consider this matter from the point of view of a “flawed” individual is the wrong approach. We can admit that it is not a series of “flawed individuals” who “happen to be police officers” in every city with a sizable Black population who are putting Black people at risk of death. Rather it is easy to see that there is an institutional bias in place where Black people are profiled by the police and targeted for harassment and arrest – and if you resist, then you are targeted for murder. It is easy to see that this is a learned behavior, that it comes with the job, and that even if you do NOT happen to be a “flawed” (i.e. racist) cop, that you too will be swept into the workings of the institution – or risk isolation and exclusion within the ranks, and perhaps the loss of your job. The police officer, as a professional aspiration, and as it relates to Black bodies and Black communities, is no longer redeemable.

Moreover – and this is the second thing I think I know – what we are witnessing today in every city that includes substantial numbers of black people is NOT the type of police work you see in other cities where black people do NOT reside in large numbers. Cops do not treat whites this way. There are countless encounters with police where the white perpetrators are belligerent and aggressive, white shoplifters, whites who smoke weed; encounters where white people have threatened police and taken swings at them – even fired weapons at them. These white people are treated very differently than their Black counterparts; there is a reasonable attempt by cops at communication and nonviolent conflict resolution. White people say things like, “my tax dollars pay your salary, asshole!” Can you imagine what happens if a Black person says something even as relatively benign as this? But only if absolutely necessary is the white perpetrator arrested and, if so, there is due process, including the reading of Miranda rights and an arraignment before a judge – simply stated, white perpetrators are allowed to live to tell their side of the story.

What happens in Black communities? Whenever you look at a photo of a cop in Ferguson, or Staten Island, or Los Angeles, and you cannot distinguish that image from one you might see of a soldier in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the West Bank, then you must admit that you are no longer dealing with a “peace” officer whose primary responsibility is to “serve and protect.” Rather you are dealing with an occupying army whose mission is to search and destroy. I think it was Stokely Charmichael (Kwame Ture) who first said police are like an occupying army in Black communities (I am happy to be refuted on the source). He must have said it circa 1966 or 1967. TODAY, nearly fifty years later in 2014 when I see the same attitudes and behaviors from the police I am mindful of continuity and how the past bleeds into the present. When I see “peace officers” in riot gear, driving tanks down the streets of Midwestern America, and pointing assault rifles at US citizens, I understand immediately that the only interests they are there to “serve and protect” are their OWN.

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Finally, the last thing I think I know about police violence and Black protest concerns the destruction of property by way of so-called “riots” and the violence that typically follows. Violence begets violence, ‘tis true. And when the arbiters of white power and elitism (the police) are involved, nonviolence also begets violence. Holding up your hands and saying “I surrender” begets violence. Saying “I’m tired of being harassed and this stops today!” begets violence. Turning your back and running for your life begets violence. Holding a fake toy gun in fucking Walmart begets violence. Knocking on a fellow “citizen’s” door in the middle of the night because you need help begets violence. Dropping your wallet and bending down to pick it up begets violence. Walking to the house with a fucking bag of Skittles begets violence. We must never ignore the violence perpetrated AGAINST Black people in these instances and as a function of systemic oppression. THAT is the violence which has “beget” the destruction of property in Ferguson and elsewhere. (There are conflicting reports – eyewitness accounts that diverge from “official” ones – and so the destruction of property in Ferguson may have been overstated anyway.) American history has shown that general strikes, riots, rebellions and other types of civil disobedience are legitimate forms of protest that are capable of producing meaningful social change. Why deny this recourse to Black people? What would you have them do? Continue to burn candles, pray to Jesus, and hope that these non-“flawed” police officers in whom many have inexplicably placed their faith will somehow save the day? After 100, 150 years of continuous police repression against Black people?

One thing these “riots” do is add an economic factor, which raises the stakes for any domestic dispute considerably. Another Black child dead and the community holds a rally, which produces no impact and no result; but a Black child dead and the people loot and burn, suddenly commerce is affected. This gets the attention of a certain class of white people as a disruption in capitalist economy will always affect them in ways that simply involving them in moral quandaries will not. You say that Black people are burning and looting businesses in their own communities which is counterproductive. Well yes and no. Yes they have looted the corner store, but do they own the corner store? Likely not. It is the owner, typically the local representative of a national chain or business conglomerate, who suffers this loss the most and that is the point. Because now the owner, the chain, or  the business conglomerate will demand that something be done, that the police lighten up a bit and allow the Black people to simply shop again rather than loot and burn. It is also the owner who has reaped untold unearned profit off the backs of the oppressed by selling overpriced goods to repressed, underpaid people; so when the choice is made to loot we can think of it as the repressed cashing out on a long overdue IOU. Perhaps these outcomes are not even as important as the mental, emotional, and spiritual release that accompanies an act of violence; where the oppressed suddenly take to the streets to viscerally remove chains both psychological and financial.

This point about the release of pent-up emotions actually raises one last thing I know without thinking about it: I am angry. I admit it. I do not find anger to be a wasted emotion. On the contrary, if you cannot get mad about the murder of your own people, then anger will forever elude you – and that will be to your detriment because sooner or later one of these watchdog terrorist pig cops will have his gun pointed squarely at YOU, or at your mother or child, and then it will be too late for anger, too late for words, and much too late for angry words …

11 Responses to “The Mike Brown Killing: It’s Much Too Late for Angry Words by Kobie Colemon”

  1. Shout out to The Last Poet. Appreciate you bro. Dope piece

  2. Ron Glover says:

    Dynamite piece TLP. I was struggling with my words on this and you found them all.

  3. TheLastPoet says:

    Thank you. And thanks very much for sharing. Like I said, enough words have been spoken and written (shouted!) about state violence against Black people. I think it’s time for some action – fortunately the people of Ferguson seem to agree!

  4. mapoui says:

    it is essential to have as big a voice as possible in the marketplace..a voice of correction, balance, attack even, initiatory at times, big enough to be legislative even…cultivating of general attitudes that respond to the needs of the people for identity in the face of establishment attack

    it must be a committed voice, capable and sharp, fearless and incorruptible, in symbiosis with the people, the one in defense of the other, to ensure general survival.

    article/publications like TSF help immensely.. part of the necessary structure already on the ground, created, existing.

    yes the state puts the victim on trial in the occurrence of murder of black people by whites. but they have gotten away with this shaping for too long. only a powerful voice in the mix can limit such treatment, correct it, prevent it from happening, start a different flavor of engagement, one more positive and equal.

    it must be a voice that can satisfy even sentiment such as mine.

    I dont care what the white media says about me/black people. it is essential only what I think of me. period!

    and when I meed any relative thing I must be able to go to my media for it eschewing the white media altogether.. which media in its current state would retain an interest for me, only as research.

    I am not looking to white people or anyone for anything really. period. its up to me..even the cooperation I must engage in to get my program across must be of my own initiative in shape and form, compromises etc

    many times black elites and investors harvest this area of black life in the creation of media for the people, capture the ‘market’ and deliver it whole to white power. a serious shame. the voice must be developed honed and retained and act for the people in every relative way necessary

    putting on trial the black victim of white crime is effective because we have no powerful alternative voice, challenging, correcting that state of affairs far and wide..and we must take such trial and eat it as a result.

    we loose the life as well as the game..and more lives to come… by not having such effective voice and keeping it.. as essential part of our collective response to the existential challenges we face in america..which is the continent and its archipelago inclusive..no part left out

    that voice must ultimately multi -faceted or cultural, and contain the relevant black languages of the region… be backed by political cohesion and general unstinting and unflagging popular support on the one hand – and media identification with the people, the collective interest..symbiosis. nothing else will work.

    there is structure on the ground already on which to grow the necessary whole and size needed

    such cohesion would realise in effect far greater than the sum total of our numbers… which are quite considerable anyway.

    ultimately we must take over, or precipitate, facilitate and be basic part of the general movement to democracy.. cooperative society replacing zero sum society by all ordinary folk, the people in collective movement to democracy…the elimination of capitalism and the instituting of the next step in social evolution..popular control, creating the systems by which social life is organized spontaneously, in response to the needs of the day, out of the achieved and available current stage.

    I don’t see that there is any alternative to this. it is essential.. and URGENT

  5. mapoui says:

    the people of Ferguson agree that the murders must end and are acting..but there does not appear to be the necessary intelligence behind it.

    without organisation..democratic organisation, awareness of the stage, how to turn this movement into a national one and not be misled by traitors and the corrupt black elites..this energy will ultimately be crushed

    where is OCCUPY when we need them?

    the need is for real grounded democratic intelligence on the ground working WITH the people, alongside not in charge,…not taking over but joining up to help promote clarity so that the best decisions can be made on the move, to carry forward the needs of the people in the issues they are now focused on.

    the looting and vandalism will not work ultimately. that will lead to marshall law and crushing of the people.

    the disorganized energy, has to morph into sustained sophisticated, determined and incorruptible opposition by the people, with the aim of revolutionizing the situation to effect the needs of the people

    and that is a question national in scope. so the movement can seek its natural support far and wide, transcending current boundaries

  6. mapoui says:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/15/asking-the-hard-questions-about-ferguson/

    we allow, often aid and abet, the development of very bad situations for our people.

    we know this story well. we do not need to put ourselves on trial as the whites put the black victims of their crime. but we must be free to examine our own failures

  7. mapoui says:

    it is sickening, heartbreaking the way black people must scratch and scrape currently…we BLACK PEOPLE.

    here is Newsweek 20 years ago:

    “Sept. 23, 1991 issue stated, “Afrocentrism ranges over the whole panorama of human history, coloring in the faces: from Australopithecus to the inventors of mathematics to the great Negro composer Beethoven.”

    we were before Neanderthall.

    Luzia Woman. Time travel and the further back one goes the blacker it gets. come forward to the grand battles of slavery, Haiti and no greater does human struggle against domination get.

    how is that after the grand battles, on the basis of such a history we can come to this state of affairs in which our leaders are chosen for us, when the greatest traitors in history are selected for us, imposed on us..when we cant even realize what we must do and do it..collectively.

    I am Black, the human species. all is from me..I am the base, the rock. I need no one to define my existence. I can do it myself. I pay no attention to exploiters for that is all they can do, limited by their reality as exploiters. what are they going to tell me..the truth?

    they have made their fortune, their wealth and power on my back, why would they liberate me now when all the marbles are on the table.

    at this dire time we are unable to carry out a historical role our experience of the last 500 years has given..liberation of ourselves and in the process the whole world. for one we do not have a media and must rely on the exploiter. we sit and bitch about what he says of us, how he says it, what he does to us, by being virtually unopposed in the human intellectual superstructure.

    time to move, to build, construct a collective and positive resolving response on the basis of all that has gone before. given that history, our history of achievement on planet Earth, there is nothing we cant do. but we are not telling ourselves that by a strong media. we are not educating the world about our fundamental part and role in the story of humanity.

    I look at the official picture, the statue of Beethoven and I cringe. Beethoven and Alexander Pushkin, along with such ancient figures as Imhotep represent to me wondrous levels of human capacity..stunningly brilliant, incredible..achieved beyond imagination. but Beethoven has been taken from us and do for Germans/Europeans what he should also be doing for Africans the world over.

    we must take such as Beethoven back regularize them and make them available to the world from our perspective. we must take back Alexander Hamilton and explain how he a mulatto could become a dominant figure in the formation of America. we must take back Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abe Lincoln, Warren Harding, Dwight Eisenhower as Black presidents before Obama while explaining them to the world.,..how they could have been

    we must give the world a routine and positive history of the Black presence in the ‘new world’ as a whole not just the USA.

    where is our independent media?

    we have something, a motley crew of publications that needs to be expanded to the extent of the job that is essential.

  8. mapoui says:

    anyhow for many reasons I suspect I piss most people here. everybody in fact.

    I just wanted to say the foregoing due to the amount of complaints about people like Jason Whitlock and the other Toms populating the MSM. they are employed by the exploiter and his criteria for employment of black men and women is that they be Toms.

    we must provide alternative employment in our own media which would function by our own standards. the bitching is nonsense, silly. what do we expect the exploiter to do free us, tell us the truth?

    the exploiter wont. he will employ a million Whitlocks to bamboozle us by the glaze and dazzle off their black skins, and the flow of lies from the mouths and pens.

    it is either we build an extensive and independent media no matter the difficulties.. or keep quiet.

    anyhow I will say goodbye now and remove myself. I hate to be where I suspect I am not wanted. accurate or not my paranoia is kicking. but that is the way I am. so be it.

  9. TheLastPoet says:

    mapoui, since when have you been unwelcome here?

    Keep bangin!

  10. […] The Mike Brown Killing: It’s Much Too Late for Angry Words by Kobie Colemon […]

  11. You’re good here mapoui. Always good. Honored you are present.

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