Michael Brown, Crying Walls, and the Inverted Race Card (IRC).

[E1] MBrown HSgrad pic

[E1] MBrown HSgrad pic

Michael Brown deserved better… he deserved the heart rending tears of a united Black community, shocked, and horrified by a callous act of rage and misguided impunity. While his family and friends mourn, shedding tears born from feelings of rage, frustrated exasperation, shame, guilt, and loss the truth is that some are not as lucky. I suspect that many are struggling in a state of desensitized bewilderment as they run headlong into the crying wall. I know I am…… my grieving mechanism has hit DVR mode, and it sucks.

Grief Fatigue
“There were 235 black homicide victims in Missouri in 2011. The homicide rate among black victims in Missouri was 33.38 per 100,000 in 2011. The homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 17.51 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 4.44 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.64 per 100,000”. Don’t be shocked, Nebraska had a rate of 34.43 per 100,000.

“Nationally for black homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 82 percent of black victims (4,949 out of 6,022) were shot and killed with guns.”[2]

While the deaths of young Black men due to Black on Black crime undeniably warrants more attention, several police related, and/ or racist driven deaths/murders have garnered public, and worldwide attention.

Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Andy Cruz, Sean Bell, John Crawford, and Oscar Grant were individuals whose deaths have highlighted epic legacies of legislative inflexibility, or gaping inequalities in the legal system.

[E2] Eric Garner arrest

[E2] Eric Garner arrest

In NY unarmed Ramarley Graham (18)(d.02/02/12) after being chased to his room on suspicion of drug possession was shot dead; Eric Garner (43) (d.07/07/14) succumbed to a choke hold while being arrested for allegedly selling cigarettes.

In the aftermath of one particularly heinous crime, the parents of Darius Simmons (13)(d.05/31/2012) who was fatally shot by an elderly neighbor won a $1.5 million civil judgment against the convicted killer, but this was capped at $500k by Wisconsin law.[3]

The following tables [E3] highlight police related deaths of African Americans in one three month period surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. The sheer numbers induce the unwanted balm of de-sensitivity, and one is almost forced into grudging acceptance of the inevitable collateral damage that goes with being first class citizens on paper, and economy class citizens in life.



Realizing the breath, and banality of “militarized enforcement thinking”

The Michael Brown case has forced several shocking legal, and enforcement perspectives to light.
• The primary duty of policemen has morphed from “protect and serve” to “keep unequals separate”… a profiling technique which keeps poorer folk out of richer, lower crime neighborhoods,
• The existence of the Qualified Immunity doctrine,[4] which “grants immunity to state or federal employees performing discretionary functions where their actions, even if later found to be unlawful, do not violate clearly established law”, and is biased toward erring on the side of the police,
• The “broken windows” strategy,[5] which is employed by police to keep crime down in distressed communities focuses on “small quality of life factors such as petty vandalism and loitering” to forestall more serious crimes. The caveat is that this requires a high police presence which has to be funded. Funding is assisted by the payment of fines.

The problem is that if the simple immensity, and scope of the hopelessness of the “poor African American”, and the vulnerabilities engendered by race was sufficient to evoke tears I would have been cried out by Christmas of my sixth birthday, over the assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton (21), (Dec. 4th 1969), maybe I would have read about Emmett Till (14) (d.08/28/1955), or the Birmingham Four (d.09/15/1963). Many in the Black community have succumbed to a combination of a “scorched earth”, and “trodden path” psychosis and have literally been “shocked out” for a long time.

Using the Inverted Race Card.

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

The closest I came to crying was really when a black trooper, Captain Ron Johnson was “put in charge of operations (?)” and apologized (08/17/14) for the white policeman’s shooting of Michael Brown . This is the classic case of reacting to the slightest positive sign, when surrounded by a sea of negativity, with feelings of relief, coupled with hope for change.
Johnson shared why resolving the unrest in Ferguson was important to him and other black families. This is the quote that almost did me in,

“When this is over, I’m going to go in my son’s room, my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to the side, has tattoos on his arms, but that’s my baby,” he said.

“And we all ought to be thanking the Browns for Michael, because Michael is going to make it better for our sons, so they can be better black men. So they can be better for our daughters, so they can be better black women.”

Unfortunately it does take a second or two to get the waterworks going, and in the interim it seemed certain that the situation was now being orchestrated in a manner designed to identify, and empathize with the pain, and suffering of the Black community…. in stark contrast to a week filled with contempt, confrontation, and tear gas….. so just like that, in a flash… faster than you can say “Hands Up… Don’t Shoot”, under a pall of transparently manipulative intent, my best chance for a basic human reaction to another tragic loss of life, dreams, and potential was gone. Michael Brown (RIP).


[E3]Researched, & written by Kali Akuno and Arlene Eisen for Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Black-Left Unity Network and the US Human Rights Network.

9 Responses to Michael Brown, Crying Walls, and the Inverted Race Card (IRC).

  1. Marva R says:

    Yes, Shawn, let’s keep this discussion alive. Some are silently praying that “this too shall pass…” but as you correctly pointed out it has not ‘passed’ for – not decades, but centuries.

    My tears are not dried up, but rather turning slowly, yet steadily to gall, and bile. Yet in the midst of this chemicalizing, I am struck with a question that keeps returning to my consciousness, “Why are so many afraid of these people, this race of people called Africans, these decendents of Alkebulan?” It must be fear that drives this world order of power and control. It must be fear that’s at the root of this crazed impulse to subjugate, control, and manipulate an entire race of people. We could keep this discussion alive by exploring the systematic descruction of our history. As you well know and have been educating in your blog our history did not begin with slavery.

  2. Marva R says:

    Here’s another catalog of this sad tale. Some of these are on the above list.


    • Thanks for the link, response, and encouragement Marva. We need to stay the course by building and passing on our legacy of non-violence, and love. I firmly believe we shall overcome some day (to coin an oft quoted phrase).

  3. Sharon says:

    I do not live in the US. However observing the details of some of these cases of killings at the hands of the police, often in daylight and questionable circumstances, suggested that US law puts African Americans on the back foot always with a case to be made in defence of their own lives. I’m glad that this post highlights legal enablers such as the qualified immunity doctrine. This may be where advocacy work needs to be done, next.

    Thanks for this post, the solidarity is as real as the tears

    • From the days of Brown vs Board of Topeka which over-ruled the “separate but equal” doctrine there has been a
      continuous battle for civil rights. One has to wonder if everyone is on the same page why the differences, why
      the fights? Thanks for the post…. you gave me a decent idea!!

  4. Marva R says:

    There’s also the heinous 1033 program started in 1997 which “transfers” surplus weaponry to municipalities ostensibly to deal with the “War on Drugs” [which is code for the war on black men- manifested in the disparity of ethnic minorities in US prisons several of them there because of minor drug infractions].

    Once signed up for the 1033 program one of the stipulations for receiving this surplus machinery is that the recipient MUST use it within one year in order to be able to keep it (Al Jazeera Primetime). This machinery was transferred to St.Louis law enforcement in October of last year.

  5. Marva R says:

    The link above no longer works perhaps b/c of the FB appendage, but the topic is easily searchible via “1033 program”. Perhaps this one, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2014/0816/Ferguson-How-Pentagon-s-1033-program-helped-militarize-small-town-police-video

    • Dr. MLK Jr must be watching these developments in amazement. The opportunity to militarize these small towns is probably the last
      thing needed. What seems necessary is a reconstruction of the police force to more adequately reflect the diversity of the population

  6. Marva R says:

    Soooo many layers to this problem. It’s difficult to know where to start. ‘Community’ policing, community educators, community small and big businesses, sensible urban planning for the 20th century – what used to be called the fabric of the community is now made of imported cloth. Imported from outside to come into our communities with no vested interest because they do not live with these people. Our human treasure is depleted and we are not filling these roles ourselves. In metro areas census tracts of minority residents have been fractioned by politics and gerrymandering and segregated from the hub of industry and the commercial centers, jobs are leaving but essential service people are coming from outside of these towns and villages. Let’s educate our youth so that they will stay and fill these roles. AND let’s do more voter education! Voters get different results.

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