I heard about the case of Stephen Clarke some time ago, and this is yet another one where US Police have killed an innocent, unarmed man and subsequently have not been punished for doing so.
The lawyer defending the police officers even had the guile to bring up some issues about Stephen Clarke to try to cast a negative light on him, but these are things the officers would not have known at that time and given them cause to act in the way they did. Read the full story on BBC News.
But this got me thinking as the anger and sense of loss in me diminished, I think there is a device within white culture that makes white people scared of black people or feel the need to pity them.
It seems in white and Euro-centric culture Black people always have to be either a threat or the victim, the for example the victim of slavery, colonization, famine, murder etc and in every case it seems that justice is out of our reach, we are left helpless and in mourning.
I wonder if the reality of who black people are, not just for white people, but for black people also, lies in that space where between being a threat or being pitied, there is a discussion, and an exploration of our humanity, that allows us a voice to express who we are, what we want; and somehow to give us the space and freedom to move beyond the narrow bounds of what white people seem to think we can be. In short, it is a struggle for self definition.
It occurred to me as I prayed last night, that currently, and for some time, there is a war against black people. A war that works on many levels which bind together to establish a powerful structure of almost control:
- Military Power: Africa has always slacked the power to protect itself against sustained and repeated foreign invasion. African society is not without violence and war with neighboring countries, but, the focus of society in terms of funds has never been on building a military force either to significantly defend the borders of African countries, let alone project military power overseas.
- Colonialism: This comes as an extension of military power, and has social, cultural, religious and economic pillars that underpin it’s all-encompassing grip on cultures it subverts and undermines.
- Economic Exploitation: Africa is rich in resources but poor in wealth. Much of its wealth is extracted by foreign powers at little cost, and then often processed and sold on at great profit in the developed world. It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century, people are still regarded as resources to be trafficked, and arguably I would say that the economic domination of African countries leads to destabilization and poverty of opportunity that causes people to search for work elsewhere and run the risk of falling into the hands of human traffickers. This sits alongside the mismanagement and greed present in African countries where those who control the resources are corrupt.
- Spiritual Hegemony: Many people acknowledge there is a God. When the main religion of the world has doctrines about the subjugation of “black” people, it seems that even that which should elevate our being and set us free, actually in the hands of some people, and indeed as the unspoken narrative in some cultures, will impose further chains on black people.
- Language: The power of the English language especially, but also Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Portuguese as the languages of colonizers has spread far beyond these countries national borders. When people in a colonized country have institutions set up that have their primary dominion in a language that is not their mother tongue, that creates a barrier, and yet another area of separation and domination. For example one may not be able to read, speak or understand the language of the colonizer, and if that is the language of law, religion, commerce etc, then you are at an immediate disadvantage.
- Financial Power: At the end of this process, we have what the developed world thrives on, Financial Power. You could even link this to Psalms 52 and 49, people who boast that their wealth makes them civilized, they see wealth as their security, it buys them enjoyment, pleasure, a defence against any power that would seek to undermine the status their wealth achieves for them.
All the points I have described above lead to this point and point to an objective of total domination. Given all of this, and the sheet weight of the societal apparatus that is used to control black people, a black person must be careful not to fall into the trap of believing they are who society seems to depict them as, one has to break the stereotypes, not just of poverty, but of bling, for example – avoid the extremes. Focus on being disciplined within yourself, not comparing yourself to others as the world does – to feed on envy, but focus on achieving the goals which help to express you as you truly are.