YEAR 401: Deweaponizing Whiteness & The Rise Of The American Black Dawn

Lena @ Lee Courthouse 8-14-20
ALL RISE: This 8/18/20 is Judgment Day in America, officially bookending 400 years of white people’s racist oppression of Black America. To officially mark year 401, under the flag of the new Black Dawn (Liberian flag in common African flag colors), Black Lives Matter activists overtook a courthouse in New England this weekend and held a trial for white people’s crimes against Black America. Today, they will render a verdict. 
For four-hundred years African Americans have been enslaved, murdered, raped, brutalized, targeted and discriminated against by white people in North America. It began at Point Comfort (now known as Fort Monroe), on August 18,1619, when the first ship carrying African slaves arrived in what would eventually become the American state of Virginia.  For four hundred years, from that first slave ship to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, white people have created an almost unimaginable system of violence and exploitation aimed at Black people that has evolved and taken many forms over time and history. But whatever form it takes, its mission is defined by one principle, the subjection of Black people under the thumb of whites.   
For 246 years, from 1619 to 1865,  it took the form of slavery. And at the end of 1865, it took the form of criminal justice. In fact, the American criminal justice system is the linear descendant of the American slave system. That evolution is directly rooted in The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution Section 1 where it is explicitly written: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Even before the ink was dry on that brazen sub clause, just freed Blacks were rounded up en masse in the south and convicted of all kinds of stupid minor offenses, like vagrancy and forced to work for very low wages if any at all. 
And since slavery supposedly ended in 1865, Blacks have spoken out about white supremacy’s imprint on criminal justice and violent policing policies, They have pleaded, cried, marched, written books, knelt at NFL games during the national anthem and even fought the police in the streets. 
And for generations, centuries of time, white people have ignored those those Black cries for equal treatment under the law while tolerating, enabling and perpetuating a rigged white supremacist criminal justice system that was intentionally designed to preserve white supremacy 
Just as white people tuned out Africans when they rioted and looted Africa and enslaved them on ships and then plantations across America, many of their descendents now tune out the post George Floyd protests raging around the globe. White people ignored those cries on the auction block, the whipping post, the cotton fields and the hanging tree. White people ignored their pain and anguish when they raped female and children slaves night after night, generation after generation. And like with Nat Turner or Colin Kapernick, white people still freak out when anyone from the oppressed race tries to shine a light on injustices inflicted on their people. 
White America has perfected the art of demonizing Black people no matter if they win a Nobel Peace Prize from a Baptist pulpit down south, or take a knee before a NFL game on any given Sunday. For four hundred years white people have always gotten their way in the American race narrative because they violently controlled it.  
When slavery finally collapsed under the weight of its own evil wickedness, it was those very same demonic white people who replaced the slave system with the criminal justice system. They were on the run after the U.S. Civil War, but after eight years out of power they slithered their way back to the top in 1877. The Klu Klux Klan marched across the south in the night terrorizing blacks while wearing white sheets, the uniform of weak cowards who were originally members of the treasonous and defeated Confederate Army. 
They erected statues of their defeated confederate white supremest generals against Confederate “General” Robert E. Lee wishes, who steadfastly believed southerners celebrating treason and defeat “would have the effect of retarding” themselves and future generations instead of progressing forward. 
How right Lee was. 
For almost a hundred years Black America withstood this stalemate while enduring white race riots, massacres and lynchings decade after decade. Their children went to unfunded, broken down schools and they worked menial jobs for little pay. They owned red lined properties in segregated slums and suffered unmerciless attacks from the police, just walking to get milk at the corner store. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s pushed the needle forward for Blacks like gaining the right to vote. Other issues, like criminal justice and police brutality became more oppressive since the 1960’s.
 There were boiling points then and again in the 1990’s, but all they ever generated was blue ribbon panel reports with recommendations that both parties ignored. Through the war on terror and Katrina came the vigilante death of Trevon Martin and the white supremacist police murders of Micheal Brown, Eric Gardner, Tamil Rice. The day after Trump slithered down his brass escalator and said Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers Dylan Roof opened fire and killed nine Black parishioners of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after welcoming the unknown stranger to join their weekly bible study. 
As Trump proclaimed “America First**” at his inaugural, Jewish graves began being tipped, Mosques got attacked and American Nazi’s began to crawl out of the sewers, emboldened by Trump’s fraudulent electoral victory. They fanned out across the country, recruiting and provoking violence on college campuses. They stabbed Muslim women on subway platforms, culminating in an orgy of violence in Charlottesville, Virgina even before Trump’s “very fine people” plowed a car into crowd of anti-Nazi counter protesters at full speed. Since Trump “took over” the White House, Blacks have seen an uptick in overt racist attacks by whites, particularly in what is now known as “Karen”- like behavior. 
What is a Karen? And why are they so dangerous?
NBC News defined the term on 6/17/20: The term has burst onto the scene as racial tensions reach a boiling point in the United States. The phrase may be new but Karen-like behavior has been a constant in this nation’s history. “Karens” embody a certain persona in society; a white person who uses their status and power to threaten or humiliate people of color. 
There is a common thread throughout American history with people of color being targeted for existing in traditionally white spaces or for doing something most would describe as normal or harmless behavior and we have seen over and over that these types of altercations can lead to serious consequences for those targeted, sometimes even resulting in death. Take the 1955 death of Emmitt Till, a 14 year old black boy who was lynched after being accused of flirting with a white woman in Mississippi. She admitted her claims were false decades later. 
There has been a drastic increase in white police hostility toward Blacks and communities of color nationally since Trump took office. The corrosive effect of Trump’s demeaning tweets targeting black officials and successful athletes enabled by the GOP’s racist indifference and silence resembles other countries with nationalist leaders like Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milošević, who plunged his nation into an ethnic bloodbath with his divisive rhetoric in the 1990’s. Trump put America’s old racist stew on high boil, waiting, hoping it would soon explode nationwide.  
When the pandemic swept across the United States in early 2020, the nation slowly began to shut down. Entire industries of commerce- sports, concerts, shopping, eating out- slammed to a complete stop. The only businesses that remained opened last spring were deemed “essential,” like super markets, pharmacy’s & fast food chains. 
However, one other industry saw rapid growth while America was sheltering in place- white supremacist police brutality aimed at communities of color.  
It should be called WSPB as opposed to just police brutality because that is a more honest description of what it is.  Police brutality, as the media calls it, is centrally rooted in white supremacy. The auction block was replaced with the judge’s bench and the slave overseer on the horse with the gun and whip became the officer with the gun and baton. 
You would think if everybody is home and off the streets and businesses are all closed minus supermarkets, pharmacies and McDonald’s that there would naturally be a down turn in WSPB.
As soon as city mayors like New York City’s Bill de Blasio (real name:Warren Wilhelm Jr) and other city mayors began criminalizing social distancing, brutal, revolting videos of cops assaulting people of color from coast to coast began popping up on line. White people were exempt of course(so much for “we are ALL in this together”). 
In other parts of the country, white folks just started hunting black people out jogging, like in Georgia, where cops didn’t even bother charging two white men who killed  Ahmaud Arbery jogging, calling him the N-word and spitting on him until his last breath. 
In Louisville, Kentucky Registered Nurse Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her bed when police unlawfully kicked down the door and murdered her. 
In early May, disturbing news reports began surfacing about wide disparities between Blacks and whites and social distancing arrests. 90% of emergency measure arrests and citations in New York City were Black and Latin X. 
Then, George Floyd. 
On Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. What should have been a routine police citation quickly escalated into the most shocking white supremacist police murder videos in American history. On that video, the world saw how white police officers treat Black Americans on any given day. Even on a national holiday during a pandemic, WSPB does not ever take a break. 
The following day, the video made the evening news, not as a top story where it belonged, but in the middle- just another disturbing video of white police officers unjustifiably murdering an unarmed Black male already in handcuffs. NBC News with Lester Holt’s 5/26/20 evening broadcast is the most striking example of just how routine it all was becoming. 
Most Black Americans saw themselves as George Floyd. That it could have easily been them, their children, their family members, neighbors and community members. The nonchalant face of Officer Derek Chauvin as Geoge Floyd politely begged for his life serves as the perfect metaphor of 400 years of race relations in America. The face of Officer Chauvin is the face of the majority of white America when it comes to the plight of Black America. 
Protests in Minneapolis erupted on the streets the following night and spread nationally the night after that. Then George Floyd became the top story. The protests and headlines grew when the police station responsible for Floyd’s murder burned live on prime time when most of the nation was sheltering in place. Protests exploded around the world, sparking a global uprising. The mental chains of white supremacy had finally broken. Statues began being toppled around America and the world. When it comes to race, everything needs to be questioned and reevaluated. When it comes to racism in America, every racist law must be undone and every obstilce removed. 
The murder of George Floyd was the last straw for Black America and a great awaking for many white Americans. What can be done to push the needle? Here are a few solutions.  
Criminal Justice Reform:
The New York Times recently reported just what exactly has changed since George Floyd’s death:


In the more than two months since the killing of George Floyd, 31 of America’s 100 largest cities have enacted policies restricting officers’ use of chokeholds, according to an analysis by Campaign Zero, a group that advocates against police violence. In all, 62 of the 100 largest cities now have such policies in place, including New York and Minneapolis, where Floyd died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Atlanta, San Diego and 67 other cities now require officers to intervene when a fellow officer uses excessive force, up from 51 before Floyd’s death. And five cities — including Denver and St. Louis — have adopted the suite of eight reforms that Campaign Zero advocates, up from two cities earlier this year.


On the national front, in Washington DC, nothing has happened. The Trump White House appears to be signaling what a 2nd term will look like when federal police in militarized camo-gear designed for combat started popping in cities like Portland, Oregon, rounding people off the streets and placing them in unmarked vans. It marks yet another chapter in the long escalation of American police militarization. 
The 50 year slide towards the militarization of the police needs to be rapidly reversed. Although police had from the beginning acted as a lawless gang that could be easily corrupted, a major shift in the wrong direction began with the Supreme Court’s 6/10/68 ruling on Terry v. Ohio in which in a 8-1 decision ruled that “the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him or her without probable cause to arrest.” 
To give the police greater power than a magistrate,” marked the beginning of what dissenting Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas described as “a long step down the totalitarian path.” Terry v. Ohio bootstrapped Stop and Frisk into legitimacy and began the slippery slope towards police militarization. Twenty-five years later, after the 1994 Crime Bill shot the prison rates up astronomically, peaking during George W. Bush’s presidency. Bloated police budgets must end and resources be better allocated for affordable housing, better education standards, and food deserts. 
Civilian review boards need to be truly independent and have the power to terminate and request criminal charges be investigated by a prosecutorial department that is independent of the city or state district attorney’s office and only goes after 
racist and dirty cops.
Economic Justice Reform:
If America really wants to fix it’s criminal justice system, it can start by paying ALL Americans a living wage. But if it wants to truly create a space of economic justice for Black America, it can start with reparations. There has been talk about $500 billion in “baby bonds” or even a straight up $12 trillion in cash- giving every Black American household an estimated $800,000. It can be issued all at once or in annual installments. Every bank financial institution, law firm, college or family that still exists and profited off of slavery should also be forced to contribute to the fund every dime plus interest they made off of slavery in today’s dollars. 
We also need to look racial discrimination of banks and other lending institutions. Red lining Black real estate and all other racist banking and real estate practises- the worst being gentrification. That also includes removing ALL toxic waste pollution facilities out of Black neighborhoods. 
In 1920 14% of America’s land was Black owned. In 2020 it is .5%. All the little racist trickand loopholes that white people put in place that made this possible need to be gutted from the system. It’s time to pull off ALL the shackles of white supremacy and give Black America an equal economic position as whites for the rest of the 21st Century and beyond.
Education Reform: 
Most schools in America still begin teaching Black history with slavery and white people discovered and invented everything. 
This must end. 
American Schools must be mandated to teach Black history and ethnic studies. They also need to hire more Black teachers, fund more counselors and ban police at school. Most of all American schools must end zero tolerance drug policies. Schools are the center of American life and they need more racial equity across the board. All racist teachers and principals should be fired immediately. And all non-violent teacher write ups be stripped from Black student records. If any school continues to discipline Black students at a disproportionate rate than whites’ needs to find the signatories of these write ups and clean house- remove them from the school for good. 
Cultural Reform: 
Wherever racism exists in America – in whatever form- needs to be ripped out at the roots and disposed of. That also includes removing America’s racist things – monuments, flags and other knick-knacks out of the public sphere and parks. All of it –from Stone Mountain Georgia to the Slave Auction Block in Fredericksburg, Virginia (removed 6/8/20)- need to go- not in a museum – in the trash. 
Whether it is an all white law firm, media organization, school, city hall or state capitol, from now on, Blacks must be included at the tables of power guiding this nation’s future direction. Fixing America’s racial disparities is going to be tough and uncomfortable for many. 
However, in year 401, America must not only lift off the weight of decades of racism and oppression from their slave’s descendents, they should lead the way in fighting racism and oppression directed at Black people around the world.  










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