One of the many protest marches. Author: Guettarda. Wikimedia Commons.
We are in the throes of a Pandemic. The Corona virus (Covid-19) is insidious. It does not discriminate. It kills old, young, Black, white and in between; the prepared and the unsuspecting. That is what it does. That is all it does. It is a terminator.
The world launched a defense against the pandemic with medical labs and technology companies working overtime to create vaccines.
Success? Yes, there has been some. It might be the only thing the other guy stumbled his way into doing correctly. He did launch the race to develop vaccines. The populous under the stewardship of the New Guy and his Vice President have been rushing to get us shots from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna; not just shots, but shots into arms. Inoculations go into the upper arm by the shoulder. Blacks are not getting them at as high a rate as the “majority” population. And they should also release the patents and vaccinate Africa. Can we talk?
Unfortunately, there are other shots. These shots take the form of slights, transgressions, brute force, and discharges from the barrel of a gun. These shots Blacks receive disproportionately. They are from the “owners” of America, law enforcement in particular. They are aimed not at shoulders but any part of the Black body and spirit, from knee on neck to projectile in the back or back of the head. It is enough to make grown men like Eric Garner say, “I can’t breathe” and George Floyd repeat the same refrain while calling on his dead mother to intervene.
Mind you some of the shots are self-inflicted. They are fights among our people. These happen in every community. The abhorrent and increasing rise of gun violence perpetrated by Black bodies upon other Black bodies continues. Some of our Youth are simply out of control. They—the establishment— call it “Black on Black violence.” This I refuse to do; it is only categorized as that when it pertains to us. You never hear about “White on White” Violence or “Asian on Asian” violence—such violence abounds.
Our oppressors coin terms to confuse the public and convince us that we are killing ourselves, and we don’t matter. Terms like “blue lives matter”, “reverse discrimination”, “cancel culture”, “replacement voters”, and “food insecurity”, obfuscates the discussion. But as for “Black on Black” crime and violence, we do not—as far as I know—manufacture guns; we have not underfunded schools; we are not the architects of the cradle to jail pipeline; we did not destroy the social safety net on the altar of Reaganomics. All our systems are working exactly as the builders want them to churn; as they supposed they would.
The Pandemic has forced us to work from home. That very home, instead of being a refuge, has become the theatre where we remember and now see daily the next episode of shots fired in the epidemic within the pandemic. The abridged list is:
GEORGEFLOYD.BREONNATAYLOR.ERICGARNER.TAMIRRICE.WALTERSCOTT.ALTONSTERLING.PHILANDOCASTILE.STEPHONCLARK.DAUNTEWRIGHT.RAYSHARDBROOKS.DANIELPRUDE.ATATIANNAJEFFERSON.BOTHEAMJEAN.FREDDIEGRAY.AKAIGURLEY.SEANBELL.MOHAMEDBAH.ELEANORBUMPERS.DEBORAHDANNER.AMADOUDIALLO.TIMOTHYSTANSBURY and so on….
The ubiquity of the Apple’s or Android’s eye has preserved some of these events for the masses to see. Their revulsion at the sight of what Black folk have known and been saying from so long took the form of a swift and unanimous verdict on all counts for the former police officer turned executioner for the nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds of excruciating torture and murder of a martyred George. Floyd’s death might have fathered and ushered in a new understanding of what America needs to do. Would that there should be an elixir, a vaccine for what ails America from its inception: Racism and White Supremacy.
There is no vaccine for what ails America. It cannot be trained out of police officers, or “conversated” out of our fellow man and woman. None of us were birthed as racists. Racism and white supremacy are inculcated and socialized into the fabric of all the occupants of these United States by our parents, friends, surroundings in all facets of American life. The media’s role cannot be minimized for they report these events as sport. They daily assault the eyes, ears with their pictures, videos and reportage on this march and that march, and counter-protest. It permeates the air we breathe. The police are a mirror and the arm of what this society has charged them to do. America has wanted them on that wall. America ordered the Code Red.
Those who wish to subjugate a race of people for fear of the brownification of America or whatever their bogeyman happens to be are facing the wrath—controlled as it is—of a woke populous. We stand today wrestling with the original sin. Shall we continue to play a game? How about Tic Tac Toe? or do we pray? I say we pray and work as hard as we can, get in some good trouble and bend that Arc of the universe toward Justice lest we perish in our just desserts.
Neville O. Mitchell, Esq., is an Anchor attorney in the Homicide Defense Task Force of The Legal Aid Society of New York and a Write-Candidate for Manhattan District Attorney.