*** THIS POST CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES TO REFLECT A DISTURBING PAST AND PRESENT REALITY****
Despite the dominance of police brutality on in contemporary culture, this is nothing new. From the tossing of ill bodies and other bodies deemed unfit for labor being thrown from the slave ships to the dogs cast on the peaceful protestors of the civil rights movement, members of the majority have terrorized the black community for centuries. These unspeakable acts have attempted to discourage blacks, forcing them to concede to constructed subjugation. This post will examine some of the ways in which whites have attempted to violently sour the sweetness of black unity.
Lynchings were one of the initial means to induce fear within the black community. Lynchings were the act of hanging, often done in public and often resulting in the burning or public decomposition of the corpse. Despite the time lapse, lynchings mirror contemporary police brutality.
Modern technology captures the element of spectacle seen in historical execution and mutilation of black bodies. As seen in the infamous Claude Neal and Emmett Till cases, black men were made into public spectacles due to their alleged interactions with white women. While these cases worked to discourage interracial contemplation, and establish black men as sexual aggressors that needed to be stopped, it also presented a fear on behalf of the white male towards the black male as a sexual competitor.
Lynchings were often highly sexualized, as the castration of males was often performed before death was issued, confirming this anxiety. I would argue that contemporary violence against black youth employs a similar dynamic, shielding the white male anxiety with the facade of the black male as a monster. The element of spectacle, despite featuring the white male as an aggressor has largely been used to continually depict the black male as a problem and thus deserving of his fate. Thus, live footage of police wrongdoings, much like pictures and live hangings, fail to produce any serious consequences.
The element of spectacle, while it should yield empathy, produces a visual devaluement to black bodies, just as lynchings did. For the black community the image of Emmett Till’s mutilated corpse is burned into our minds, as a reminder of just the fate that awaits each and every one of us at every corner. Emmett Till, like Trayvon, like Amadou, like Mike, like Ezell and countless other slain black youth represent the black community in its entirety. These young black victims of the twenty-first century are reflective of a society that has failed to change for their protection. Their deaths represent the reality of a stagnant state of being in the united States, and disable true progression where racism exists.
Police Brutality during Peaceful Protests
Perhaps police brutality was at its height during the peaceful demonstrations of the civil rights movement. Although the demonstrations of the civil rights movement were often non-violent, peaceful protests were seen of violent intention to the white psyche. In a system of power that is and was largely dependent on the division of blacks, the unity was mentally unsettling to those of he majority.
Neverless, police brutality on these peaceful protestors reflects a contemporary sentiment of indifference towards the reality of black resistance. America’s past depicts unarmed blacks being attacked by the police mirroring contemporary victims of the same offenders.
While the police are certainly no angels, their actions mark the influence of their white collar counterparts. Police are the hands of a government controlled by those who mirror the implemented ideology of black inferiority. Police brutality is a governmental act of self defense by those whose self is solely based off the fallacy of black inferiority. If black strength was not a source of fear, there would be no need to maul peaceful protestors. If black strength was not a force to be reckoned with, then there would be no need to slay our leaders. Malcolm, Medgar, Martin, Fred, George, Jonathan-murdered in cold blood, out of fear that their influence would steer blacks from assimilation to cultural pride. Let us speak and act out against injustice, posing a non-violent threat to a country that threatens us. And because the only thing certain in life is death, let us die looking up at the sun that kissed us, and the sky that created us to conquer every fear inflicted upon us. Let the slain tokenize the price of freedom, and cure any fear of death. For if we must be fearful, let us fear a life on a knees, at the mercy of our oppressors.
Educate. Enlighten. Endure