The iconography of a cold dead Black body lying on a tarred road covered with a sheet, hanging from a tree, choked to death by a policeman, or burned alive by a mob creates a seductive voyeurism which has been a part of American history and culture as long as there has been such. A historically designed “picnic” of the most irregular making.
By Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist – Our Black News
America’s law enforcement has always been the legal arm of the American sanitation of Black and Brown bodies. What took place in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and what continues to be the juggernaut of American normalcy past, present and future is the targeted and designed intellectual marginalization, arresting, imprisoning or killing of Black men by some type of law enforcement, be it the police in the streets, or a boardroom. In the broad sense, these killings send a disturbing message on many fronts: 1. Self-destructive behaviors are not always Black and White; and 2. The same reasons some white police kill black men is the same reason black men kill Black men; they see no future or value in the Black body. To understand the meaning of the civil war raging in the Twin Cities, we must be clear on how flat characters fit into a thick plot charged with white privilege, race-baiting, and racism. We must begin by defining the meaning of normalcy in a manipulated society within a dominant-white patriarchal construct that cannot rescue nor redirect itself from historical assumptions of the Black body. For example, saying a Black male is “angry” has a far different meaning from saying a non-Black is “angry.” If a Black person can identify a flaw-in-process to find a better way to complete a task, he’s trying to pull a fast one. If a non-Black student sees the same flaw and works in an attempt to fix it, the response is: This guy is great! We should get him a job in the boss’s office. In the one case, a single consciousness rewards privilege. In the other case, many are damned by the double consciousness about Black people that becomes the normative historical target of fear-generated assumptions; and yes, I might be smarter than you – so you not wanting to work with me because of my skin-color makes you an idiot.
Questionable deaths, especially the deaths that provide a platform of tension and propaganda between Blacks and Whites make for good television news ratings. Like the police, the mainstream media has done a great job of hyping up the assumed non-normalcy of Black men. At this point, it is highly unlikely to separate real news from high-impact television and print news sensationalism. Today, news is not ‘news,’ it’s style and who does it best.
This is my reflection on what’s happening after talking to dozens of high school students out in the street protesting, watching three Black teenagers car-jack an older white woman in daylight hours, and seeing youth that look like me looting the Midway Footlocker. Yes, I know that Mr. Floyd should not be dead and his death represents many layers of generational and structural racism that have never gone away; man-made, taught, and practiced in the high levels of organizational communication. But how do we address the black and brown bodies that still cause community damage in the form of perverse actions that include the rejection of education?
There are many inside the Black Lives Matter movement, the NAACP and the Urban League who will deny that black-on-black crime is even the issue. One might argue with the exception of BLM because of no formal 501(c) 3 status, the NAACP and the National/Local Urban Leagues can benefit from protesting police murders more than black-on-black crime simply because structural and institutional racism do not want to deal with this embarrassment. This was seen earlier in the week when Minnesota’s governor and lawmakers went public on wanting to look directly at an issue put in front of them many times in the last two-years: the blight of Black Minnesotans in Minnesota. In any case, structural racism wins again.