Walking while Black — U.S. society divided by racism

The “crime” of walking while Black — and driving, shopping, sitting, standing and merely existing while Black — in the United States is often punishable by death.  This means death by police bullets from cops trained to shoot and kill.

Control of and infringement on the right to freedom of movement is common.  Too often, police targets are African-American men and youth. People with Brown skin have always been targets of white hatred and terrorism in the U.S.

Compared to the value of white lives, Black lives do not matter now and have never mattered.  Throughout U.S. history, the murdering of Blacks — as well as the existence of racist power structures and policies — has  been tolerated and accepted. White society too often and too readily justifies the killings and other harm done to Blacks.  However, neither whites nor any groupings of people, including members of the Black community, can accept the killing of their children.

Systemic and individual indifference and disdain towards people of African descent have always existed and are still prevalent. Discriminatory, racist practices are entrenched and are rarely challenged by a majority of whites who harbor deep-seated, fixed negative attitudes and opinions regarding the value of Black people.  They appear to resist a willingness to change.

Blacks and whites live in two different realities, with whites, in general, being unwilling to confront the realities of Black life. Many deny the racist component of police killings of Blacks.

Racist inequality systemic

Centuries-long political, social and economic inequalities and disparities between Black and white people’s lives reflect the depth and persistence of white power, domination, privilege and preference.  Many whites deny that they benefit from the second-class status of Blacks, who have limited opportunities, and whose dreams are deferred or denied because they have the “wrong” skin color.

Because there has never been a level playing field either in the past or in the present day, it will take an enormous amount of time for Blacks even to come close to catching up to the status of whites.  That will only be realized if race and class cease to underlie the social and economic structure of society — which is based on capitalism. There must be a shift in the culture of white supremacy — and it must be ended altogether.

Racism is a disease of epidemic proportions. The doctrine of white supremacy reflects a pathological need to feel superior.  It is often coupled with the need to harm people of color and the refusal to recognize their humanity.  Guns have always been a weapon utilized to maintain white supremacy, whether under slavery, Jim Crow or today in the hands of racist police and “stand your ground” right-wingers.

The white supremacist ideology and mindset views Black people as inferior, as less than human. Parenthetically, if one looks up the dictionary definition of the word “white,” the implicit bias is evident.

The psychological process of cognitive dissonance allows whites — while suspending reality and falsely believing their superiority to all other human beings on earth, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary — to hate Blacks and contradictorily emulate aspects of Black culture and creativity at the same time.

During the height of the “Jim Crow” era in the South, there were thousands of lynchings of Black men, women, children and youth.  This was acceptable behavior to the white power structure and society; those who engaged in this despicable act had impunity.  Those who bragged about and admitted to performing or participating in these horrific crimes were not punished. White families watched and celebrated the lynchings and burnings of Blacks.  Frequently, victims’ private parts were dismembered for souvenirs.  Were these the acts of civilized minds or the signs of a sick society?

Resistance to rampant police brutality

In Ferguson, Mo., Michael Brown, an unarmed Black youth, was recently shot to death by a white cop.  There, the Black community has lived under siege by a hostile white police force for decades, without any protection.  Police threats and state-sanctioned abuse of power have been everyday occurrences.

Rebellions in Ferguson and other communities of color are waged against long-standing police brutality that targets Black populations in particular.  As Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, Blacks are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

The recent chokehold killing of Eric Garner, a Black man, by a white cop in notoriously racist, segregated Staten Island, N.Y., is among the many instances of racist slayings by police in New York City and around the country, which is now an epidemic. (It is noteworthy that the NYC school system is the most segregated in the country, due primarily to the prevalence of segregated neighborhoods.)

Aggressive, abusive police policies and practices have profoundly affected oppressed groups and communities.  Generations of Black residents in Ferguson, and similar cities and towns around the U.S., have been traumatized.  They have grown up being subjected to racist police brutality, while living in hostile, police-occupied environments for their entire lives, with no sense of safety or security.

Fear is a way of life in communities of color throughout the country; it takes its toll on the residents and has collateral consequences.  Parents fear for the lives of their young Black sons whenever they leave their houses, never knowing if they will see their children alive again.  The children grow up feeling anxious and vulnerable.

The emotional, psychological and physical damage caused by this oppression has an enormous negative impact on individuals, families and entire neighborhoods’ quality of life.  The effects are devastating and long lasting.

Yet, white society overlooks or does not even consider the consequences of constant racist police mistreatment unless pressured by the masses to do so.   The root cause-and-effect relationships between oppression, people’s stress levels and resulting severe health problems, and dysfunction or adjustment/adaptation disorders are well-documented.

Millions of Black people throughout the country are subjected to high levels of day-to-day stress; it is extremely harmful.  In addition to police occupation, Blacks are marginalized, disrespected, humiliated, belittled, degraded and made vulnerable. They have been consistently, intentionally and disproportionately profiled and targeted.  The socioeconomic hardships, including high unemployment rates and low wages, are unduly burdensome and affect their overall quality of life.

Police brutality is not new

Blacks have traditionally been demonized and criminalized, and have experienced widespread civil and human rights abuses.  In the 1930s, the Communist Party organized and mobilized to try to prevent and stop this mistreatment, especially working hard to end the racist frame-up of the Scottsboro defendants.

The role and function of the police as part of the repressive state, has historically been to repress people’s movements.  This is true today.  Now, the police are being used to stifle the justifiable anger by millions of people of color at the massive capitalist economic crisis, which has so cruelly harmed their quality of life.

Racial profiling by police is unlawful, unjustified and discriminatory.   Statistics have shown rampant racial disparities in improper arrests and use of physical force.  Within the criminal “justice” system, Black people face disproportionately more criminal prosecutions, imprisonments and other forms of victimization.

All of these injustices violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which “guarantees” equal protection under the law, and they flout the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  These discriminatory “criminal justice” practices also consume valuable public resources, which could be used for jobs programs, housing, health care, education and other human needs.

Stop racial profiling and all injustices

Abusive police practices, which result in mistreatment of people based on race, income, gender and age, are now out of control. Much more accountability and transparency of police actions are needed throughout the country.  The supervision, enforcement and discipline of police — with involvement and clout by members of oppressed communities — must be implemented on a much larger scale to prevent abuses.

Political power comes through elections, but there is even stronger people’s power in communities around the U.S. that can change the dynamics.  Rebellions and uprisings are displays of legitimate and justifiable outrage against injustices.  Uprisings have taken place in many communities in response to their suffering, pain and despair stemming from ongoing desperate conditions, repression and oppression.  Communities are demanding control of police actions and the punishing of rogue killer cops. Connecting the dots has raised consciousness.

Mass struggle and people’s power through organizing, resistance and disruptions, with the expansion of grassroots movements that demand meaningful policy and structural changes, must and will continue.  It is people’s power that makes changes.

Dolores Cox


Published by
Dolores Cox

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