Nicholas Brady, professor of Africana Studies at Bucknell University and author of an article titled “Zero Degree Rage,” sees massed popular emotion as a liberatory weapon. “Rage focuses the collective effort and widens its scope, so that suddenly the police, as an institution, becomes the problem, not individual police officers,” said Brady.
Ilyasah Shabazz Talks About Malcolm X’s Legacy
Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, talks about the legacy of her dad on what would have been his 95th birthday with Karen. #MalcolmX #IyasahShabazz #KarenHunterShow
‘Economic duress is nothing new’: Can Amerika’s oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic?
Dr Raye Richardson, one of the founders of Marcus Books, at a store event in the late 1970s. Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Books
Oakland’s Marcus Books has remained a space for ‘black living and thinking’ through gentrification and online competition. Now it’s turning to readers for help
Since 1975, Oakland’s Marcus Books has survived one of the most dramatic gentrifications in US history, aggressive competition from online stores, and the inevitable racism directed at a space that celebrates black voices. Located in a city that saw its black population nearly halved over two decades, Marcus Books staff learned how to navigate the intense pressures and forge a path towards survival.
But all those years of hard work were wiped away overnight when the Bay Area announced a strict shelter-in-place order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, a seminal living piece of American history – the nation’s oldest black bookstore – is at risk of disappearing forever.
“A black bookstore is not only about the exchange of merchandise,” Jasmine Johnson, whose grandparents founded Marcus Books, tells the Guardian. The disappearance of Marcus Books – which first opened in San Francisco in 1960 – and other black-centric book stores would be devastating for the larger black community, she says. “We’re really about congregating around the diversity of black living and thinking. Surviving under economic duress is nothing new to us, but this is something totally different.”
The acute distress Marcus Books and other black bookstores are facinghighlights a severe disparity in reader-led funding. City Lights, an independent bookstore founded in San Francisco in 1953 and designated a landmark in 2001, launched a GoFundMe last month and met its goal of $400,000 in days. At the time of writing, the bookstore had surpassed its goal by nearly $100,000. City Lights has not disclosed how it plans to allocate the excess funds, amid calls to donate them to other struggling local bookstores.
Meanwhile, Marcus Books launched its GoFundMe in April and has failed to reach even half of its $200,000 goal. When asked about the stark differences in Marcus Books’ and City Lights’ fundraisers, Johnson argues: “It’s pretty deeply connected to what happens when you qualify anything with black. You’re met with suspicion or dismissal.” She believes fundraisers by black bookstores are viewed by the larger public as a niche interest. “The publishing industry has had a history of framing us as a ‘diversity section’.”
Black bookstores have fought tooth and nail for the past three decades, as a handful closed each year. According to the African-American Literature Book Club, there were over 200 black-owned bookstores in the 90s. In 2019, the number was slightly over 120. The pandemic has only exacerbated their already precarious existence.
Johnson sees this as an opportunity to remind America why supporting black bookstores is important, even in normal times. “We want to come out of this and go from simply surviving to thriving,” she says of her hopes for the store’s fundraiser.
In an industry where black authors frequently receive less attention and promotion than their white counterparts, bookstores such as Marcus Books play an important role. Malcolm X was among the shop’s customers, and over the years, prominent black authors such as Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison held events at the bookstore – often before they experienced crossover success and were struggling to book events elsewhere.
“When I was publishing in the 90s and early 00s and had regular tours, Marcus was one of my favorite book stops,” the science-fiction writer Tananarive Due says. Blanche Richardson, who runs the store, “is a community gem and had sold so many of my books that Marcus produced some of my largest and most enthusiastic crowds. I was so in love with Marcus that I included the store in one of the scenes in my horror novel, The Good House, as an hommage to try to capture the magic of the store. Marcus is more than a bookstore – it’s a neighborhood, city and state institution.”
The Black Panthers march in protest of the trial of co-founder Huey P Newton in Oakland. Many black bookstores served as hubs for the Black Power movement. Photograph: Bettmann/Getty Images
Black bookstores have always had to justify their existence and combat racism. The FBI frequently spied on them in the 60s and 70s, when many served as cultural hubs for the Black Power movement. Johnsonsays she and other staff encountered “white-only-water-fountain-level racism” often. This continues during the pandemic: “It shows up on Twitter through people asking ‘Why does a black bookstore need to be saved? Why can’t they save themselves?’ They’re usually from anonymous accounts.”
Marcus Books’ call for help is not unique. Many black bookstores across the nation have launched fundraising campaigns as last-ditch efforts to stay afloat. There’s Black Stone of Ypsilanti, Michigan; Eyeseeme, which specializes in black children’s literature, of St Louis; and LEMS of Seattle, which claims to be the last black-centric bookstore of the Pacific north-west. An entire section of black culture is under threat.
Many black bookstores across the nation have launched fundraising campaigns as last-ditch efforts to stay afloat. Photograph: Courtesy Marcus Books
Some of these stores were not equipped to compete with online sales during normal times, much less during a pandemic. Unlike many other independent bookstores, Marcus Books lacks an online operation. So, for now, the store is reliant on phone orders and storefront pickups, severely limiting business when many customers are rarely leaving their homes and turning to online delivery in unprecedented numbers. Richardson, the daughter of the Marcus Books founders, is still operating the store every day.
The contributions to Marcus Books are trickling in, but not fast enough. Hoping to boost support, the store organized an online stream that featured live readings from the poets Danez Smith, Daveed Diggs, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and others. More than 400 people attended, raising $9,000. Johnson said it was more than a fundraising event, offering a chance for the black community to connect. “There was a real alchemy that came together during it,” she says.
Despite all of the challenges facing Marcus Books, Johnson says she is optimistic about the future of the store. It will find a way, she says: “Black bookstores have been making it work for years.”
Click here for more information on Marcus Books 60th Anniversary Fundraiser
Ralph Poynter: What’s Happening BlogTalkRadio Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Call in 1 (347) 857-3293 @ 9-10pm ET
click on mp3 link below for last weeks program—-
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Call in 1 (347) 857-3293 @ 9-10pm ET
“RONA” Gonna Get Your Mama! The Black Holocaust
circa 2020- a Malcolm x perspective-What would Malcolm do?
1 NEWS ANALYSIS—- An anatomy of oppression requires an anatomy of colonialism/imperialism i.e. An anatomy of the American Capitalist System: Ralph Poynter, Tom Siracuse, Joel Meyers, Gwen Goodwin, Paul Gilman, Henry Hagins
2. Updates from the Political Prisoner Death Camps- Anne Lamb (NYC Jericho), Gil Obler (Free Mumia Coalition-NYC)
3. Prof. Louie Liberation Poetry- In remembrance of Sister Lynne
WHAT SHOULD THE LEFT DO NOW? STUDY
Everyone on the left is asking what we should be doing right now, but nobody wants to hear that we ought to be studying more. That’s tough, because strategic collective study is always one of the most valuable things we can do with our time — if it’s done right. It is a clear, concrete project that can generate real victories quicker than you might think.
Can we discern how and why capitalism is a bad thing, or are its wrongdoings random and mysterious? If it is a mystery, and we can’t understand it or change it — then we can’t be revolutionaries.
If, on the other hand, capitalism operates in understandable ways, then we could — in theory — disrupt it. In that case we need to know the system’s history, its predictable trajectories, and what has worked — and not worked — in stopping or slowing it down before. Blowing that off in the name of “pragmatism” would be like going to a dentist who thinks their high school shop class taught them everything they need to know about drilling your teeth.
To put it another way, we can either study theory or continue to be the victim of forces we choose not to understand.
WHEN SHOULD WE STUDY?
Check out this video about Naxalite guerillas in India. See what happens at 5:30 — these comrades from one of the poorest places on the planet, with very little formal education, find the time to read Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. We should fight back against any liberal notion that poor people aren’t smart enough to study theory — workers, peasants, prisoners, and the poor have done this study for centuries now.
One of the best guidelines revolutionaries have discovered over all those years: prioritize study following any significant defeat.
Mao developed the theories that led to China’s liberation during and after the Long March, Lenin cracked the code of proletarian revolution while in exile, Marx and Engels spent their lives exploring the failures of the 1848 revolutions and then the Paris Commune. The US left has not had a meaningful victory in decades, and huge swaths of us got hoodwinked by the Democratic Party — again. This is the time to dig in and see what we missed, and to make sure we stop making the same mistakes over and over.
HOW TO STUDY
First, study collectively. Communist study is not an academic exercise, it is a preparation for action. The group you study with is a ready-made nucleus for organizing. Also, studying by yourself makes it more likely that you will persist in error — the more minds you bring together, the less likely you are to end up thinking things that make organizing harder.
Second, make accountability your highest priority. Collective study makes it easier to get through tough material, but it only works if everyone does their part. The words “I didn’t finish the reading but…” should be anathema in your study group. Help people that start falling behind, but If you don’t have the discipline to read a book, how will you ever make it through a revolution?
Third, focus on the theorists whose ideas won. Yes, capitalism is back in power pretty much everywhere, but the Russan nobility and bourgeoisie Lenin and Stalin defeated or the Chinese comprador class destroyed by Mao did not come back — they don’t exist anymore. That’s more than any of their anti-communist critics can claim, and if we aim to defeat capitalism we should learn what’s worked and what hasn’t.
All of them were inspired by Engels, so try this. Message five trusted comrades right now and find a night you all have free three weeks from today. Send them this link and congratulations — you’ve organized a communist political project. If you need to break it up into a few sessions, that’s okay. Balancing capacity and the work that needs to be done is called strategy, and it’s how we’ll win.
Finally, remember that our study should never be aimless. Each session needs a facilitator to guide the discussion towards the most important questions of all: how does this help us understand our own conditions, and what does it suggest about possible ways to change them? Follow the study and the discussion into action, then consolidate what you learn in documents the rest of us can read. Repeat until we’ve smashed the state.
THIS IS HOW WE WIN
Bernie Sanders signed up one million volunteers. Imagine if 10 percent of them gave up on bourgeois politics and made revolution a real priority. 100,000 new communists could form 10,000 to 15,000 study circles, each of them sharpening their understanding of capitalism into real political weapons.
They could go into thousands of communities and use their knowledge to organize the disorganized, to help proletarian people fight for themselves. Imagine if they shared their discoveries with one another, and through collaboration and debate created a growing, thoughtful, strategic communist movement in the heart of imperialism. Imagine if the capitalist state deepens its current crisis at the same time.
The outcomes would be unpredictable, but one becomes a real possibility: revolution. Without study, that is impossible, which is all the reason we need to focus on organized, collective study right now. There’s nothing more pragmatic we could possibly do.
Lester Maddox and Jim Brown Get Into Heated Debate on Segregation | The Dick Cavett Show
Governor Lester Maddox and Ex-Football player Jim Brown get into a heated race debate. Date aired – 18 December 1970 – Lester Maddox
For clip licensing opportunities please visit https://www.globalimageworks.com/the-…
Dick Cavett has been nominated for eleven Emmy awards (the most recent in 2012 for the HBO special, Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again), and won three. Spanning five decades, Dick Cavett’s television career has defined excellence in the interview format. He started at ABC in 1968, and also enjoyed success on PBS, USA, and CNBC
His most recent television successes were the September 2014 PBS special, Dick Cavett’s Watergate, followed April 2015 by Dick Cavett’s Vietnam. He has appeared in movies, tv specials, tv commercials, and several Broadway plays. He starred in an off-Broadway production ofHellman v. McCarthy in 2014 and reprised the role at Theatre 40 in LA February 2015
Cavett has published four books beginning with Cavett (1974) and Eye on Cavett (1983), co-authored with Christopher Porterfield. His two recent books — Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets (2010) and Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic moments, and Assorted Hijinks(October 2014) are both collections of his online opinion column, written for The New York Times since 2007. Additionally, he has written for The New Yorker, TV Guide, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere.
How white women’s “investment” in slavery has shaped Amerika today
A group of enslaved women and a man sit on the steps of the Florida Club in St. Augustine, Florida, mid 19th Century. A white woman, possibly a manager or overseer, stands behind them. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
White women are sometimes seen as bystanders to slavery. A historian explains why that’s wrong.
In the American South before the Civil War, white women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t hold office. When they married, their property technically belonged to their husbands.
But, as historian Stephanie Jones-Rogers notes, there was one thing they could do, just as white men could: They could buy, sell, and own enslaved people.
In her recent book, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, Jones-Rogers makes the case that white women were far from passive bystanders in the business of slavery, as previous historians argued. Rather, they were active participants, shoring up their own economic power through ownership of the enslaved.
In the past, historians had often based their conclusions about white women’s role in slavery on the writings of a small subset of white Southern women. But Jones-Rogers, an associate professor of history at the University of California Berkeley, drew on a different source: interviews with formerly enslaved people conducted during the Great Depression as part of the Federal Writers’ Project, an arm of the Works Progress Administration. These interviews, Jones-Rogers writes, show that white girls were trained in slave ownership, discipline, and mastery sometimes from birth, even being given enslaved people as gifts when they were as young as nine months old.
The result was a deep investment by white women in slavery, and its echoes continue to be felt today. As the New York Times and others commemorate the date, 400 years ago, when enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, Vox reached out to Jones-Rogers to talk about the history of white, slaveholding women in the South and what that history says about race, gender, wealth, and power in America in 2019. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.
Can you talk a little about how this book came about?
When I was in graduate school, I was taking all these different courses and reading all these books on African American history but also on women’s and gender history. I was particularly interested in what these two subfields of history had to say about white women’s economic investments in the institution of slavery. What struck me is that they seemed to be in direct contradiction to each other, in many respects.
Those historians who explored the experiences of white Southern women would often argue that while women had access to enslaved people that male kin or their spouses may have owned, they were not directly involved in the buying and selling of enslaved people — particularly married women weren’t.
Conversely, those individuals who explored the enslaving of African Americans would often, in fact, say that a formerly enslaved person talked about having a female owner or talked about being bought or sold by a woman. And so I asked myself, what’s the real story here?
Were white women — particularly married white women — economically invested in the institution of slavery? Meaning, did they buy and sell enslaved people?
I looked to traditional sources where we might think to find those answers: a white woman’s diary, a white woman’s letters and correspondence between family members, et cetera. They mentioned very sporadically issues related to answering this question, but there was not this kind of sustained conversation. So, I said, African Americans are talking about this. Formerly enslaved people are talking about this. So, let me look to the interviews that they granted to these Federal Writers in the 1930s and 1940s. And so when I look to those interviews, formerly enslaved people were talking about white women’s economic investments in a variety of ways consistently, constantly, routinely.
The historians you mention who didn’t see white women as economically invested in slavery — what sources were they drawing on and why is there such a disconnect between those sources and the interviews with formerly enslaved people that did really delve into these economic questions?
I tried to focus primarily on married slave-owned women in this book, in large part because those are the women who many historians of slaveowners say did not have a direct impact on the economic institution of slavery. And they say that, in large part, because of this legal doctrine called coverture. Essentially, this doctrine says that when a woman who owns property or earns wages, or has any assets, gets married, those assets, those wages, that wealth, immediately becomes her husband’s — their identities are subsumed into one.
Many historians have looked into this legal doctrine of coverture and seen it as all-encompassing. [But] scholars who have made this argument have essentially not examined the voluminous evidence that appeared in the testimonies of formerly enslaved people.
They also looked to a very small subset of women: highly literate, very elite white women who had the time to sit down and jot down their thoughts about the day. And so they’re missing the vast majority of those women who owned slaves.
The vast majority of women who owned slaves owned less than 20. And often, the women that I talk about in the book owned one or two, no more than five. So these are the women that were probably not literate, and if they were literate, they didn’t have enough time to sit down and write down what was going on in their day. The vast majority of the women who owned slaves are missing from the analyses, in large part because they did not leave documents behind to tell us how they felt about these things, to tell us how they were investing in the institution.
Formerly enslaved people’s testimonies about these women are, in many respects, the only surviving record to document exactly that.
So in looking at those testimonies, what did you find in terms of the roles that white women and girls had in slavery, and the way that they formed their identities through their involvement in slavery?
What I thought was really interesting as I read much of the scholarship on white slave-owning women is that so much of it starts when women are adults. One really wonderful thing about the interviews of formerly enslaved people is they talk about white girls. They talk about white infants, female infants, and female adolescents.
So we are allowed into several phases of white female life through these interviews that have heretofore been obscured or kind of left out of the picture. I decided, in order for the second half of this story, the story of women, to make sense, I have to start the story at the very beginning, in the early years.
So I start the book by talking about how white slave-holding parents trained their daughters how to be slaveowners. They give them lessons in slave discipline and slave management. Some even allow for their daughters to mete out physical punishments.
Slave-holding parents and slave-holding family members gave girls enslaved people as gifts — for Christmas sometimes, when they turned 16 or when they turned 21.
There are even accounts of slave-holding parents and family members giving white female infants enslaved people as their own. There is one particular instance of a case, in a court record, where a woman talks about how her grandfather gave her an enslaved person as her own when she was 9 months old.
When you think about the fact that their relationship to slavery, to slave ownership in particular, begins in infancy, in girlhood, what you begin to realize is that their very identities as white girls, as white Southerners, as white women, is intricately tied to not only ownership of enslaved people but also the control of enslaved people, the management of enslaved people.
The other really important lesson that their parents, their family members, and even their girlfriends, cousins, female cousins, and so forth are also teaching them along the way is that the way the law is set up, you have this property. And when you get married, it will, if we don’t do anything about it, become your husband’s. And, if he is a loser, you’re going to lose. So, they essentially say, we have to make sure that does not happen.
So before these young women get married, their parents and sometimes female kin and friends will encourage them to develop legal instruments, protective measures to ensure that they don’t lose all of their property to their husbands. These legal instruments that they develop are very much like prenuptial agreements today. They’re called marriage settlements back then, or marital contracts, which essentially detail not only what property they’re bringing into the marriage but what kind of control their husbands can or cannot have over it.
These women are not stupid. They’re like, I’m about to get married, the law says that everything I have is going to be my husband’s. I don’t want that to happen. What can I do to prevent that from happening?
They are prepared, they are knowledgeable, and they work with parents and others who are willing to assist them to develop protective measures to ensure that the relinquishment of all of their property wealth and assets doesn’t happen once they get married.
Going along with that, can you talk about the ways in which slavery benefited white women and girls, both economically and socially?
Women cannot do many of the things that men can do in this period of time. One thing that they are allowed to do by law, and this is particularly the case in the South, is invest in slavery.
And that’s exactly what they do. Not only do they inherit enslaved people, but they also go into slave markets. They buy enslaved people. They’ll hire them out and they’ll collect their wages. Then they use those wages to buy more slaves.
They open businesses, and they employ those enslaved people in their businesses, those businesses make a profit, they use those profits to buy more slaves. So they are investing in the institution of slavery in the same ways as white men are.
The other really interesting thing that I observed in the interviews with formerly enslaved people is that white women often owned twice as many female slaves as they did male slaves. When I would talk about this with scholars in the field, some of them would remark, “Oh, that makes sense, because if women are in the house, they need more female help.”
I said, “Okay, yes, that would be practical,” but what has also been important to recognize is that these women understood the law. There are laws on the books, during this period that ensure whenever a person owns an enslaved woman, if that woman gave birth, that person also legally owned her children.
And so owning an enslaved woman means that you’re not only reaping the benefits of this woman’s productive labor but also her reproductive labor.
Was that true of white men, too? Did they have more female than male slaves?
Much of what I’m describing was also true for white boys and white men. [But] during this period of time, there was the development of the domestic slave trade, which essentially was the purchase of enslaved people in the upper South, in places like Virginia and Maryland, and then their transport into the lower South and into the Southwest when the country expanded during the 1800s.
In these sales, if an enslaved woman had a child, that child was seen as a liability to the slave trader. There are accounts that I talk about in the book where these slave traders are willing to just toss away the baby. But, there was this [white] woman in one particular case who would go to state auctions, and if there were babies there that were not sold along with the mother, she would ask for those babies to be given to her. She would keep the babies for free.
In those respects, there were instances in which white men saw enslaved children as liabilities, and white women saw them as long-term investments.
You talk in the book about how white women were able to achieve economic and social empowerment through ownership of enslaved people, essentially gaining some status in a patriarchal society through dominance over black people. I’m curious if we see echoes of this today when we look at white women gaining economic empowerment under capitalism?
There is a certain kind of power that comes with wealth. Enslaved people were wealth, their bodies held value on a real market, within a capitalist market. White women understood it.
But in order to sustain this system, white men realize that white women must be a part of that system. They must support it, they must see the value in it for themselves, not simply for their husbands or their children. They need to understand that this system benefits them personally and directly. The only way they can do that is to allow for them to invest in the system and to participate in the system.
And they are, in fact, invested in this system; they participate in the system. They benefit from this system, in every single way that white men do. And that is key to the longevity of, the perpetuation of the system. I think that is the same for capitalism — when you tell a woman, “You might not make as much as a man for doing the same work, but if you can get your hands on these funds, nobody can deny you.”
Slavery was a regime based on human bondage, [but] it was also an economic regime, one that was funding the national economy. When those white women are invested, it’s not very different from them being invested in capitalism today. It’s just a different commodity. It’s just a different source of wealth.
In thinking about the 1619 commemoration, I was thinking about the part of your book where you look at the way white women wrote about slavery after emancipation. In your epilogue, you write that they portrayed themselves as “forever sacrificing women who had played purely benevolent roles within a nurturing system.” And you quote a white woman who wrote that maybe the descendants of enslaved people should even consider creating an “anniversary to celebrate ‘the landing of their fathers on the shores of America,’ when they were bought and domiciled in American homes.”
Can you talk a little bit about how white women remembered their role in slavery after the fact and how we actually ought to remember it today?
When I think about that part of the book, I also think about what is happening today. The erasure of certain elements of horror and the darkness of [white women’s] investment and involvement in the history of slavery are very much why we’re shocked to see the way that some white women respond to interactions with black people today.
You can also see that in the “send her back” chants — the idea that black people have never been citizens and they never belonged. I think there are parallels to what this woman said in the early 1900s and what white women are saying today about African-descended people, whether they be congresswomen or just average black folk on the street.
It’s very much like, you should be grateful because you’re here now and stop complaining, because look what we’ve done for you. I think there are many parallels between that kind of language now, and the argument that she made back in the early 1900s.
Essential vs non-essential
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-Amerikan Pandemic
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-American Pandemic
Please, please help me. No, I don’t want to put handcuffs on. No! Don’t put handcuffs on! No, I want to stay in school, I just got here. Let go of me. No, please let me go…I don’t wanna go in a police car. No, please give me a second chance!
— Pleas of 6-year-old Kaia Rolle to arresting officer*
I can do anything I want. I’m a police officer.
—Deputy Constable Daryl Jones, white police officer
There’s an ugly truth in these numbers. It’s not just that minorities are more likely to be stopped—they’re more likely to be stopped without cause.
–Former New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in 2013.
A Journal of the Plague Years
・January 21, 2020, Muncie, Indiana: A white university professor calls police after Sultan Benson, a black university student, refuses to change his seat during a class.
・June 30, 2019, Freeport, Illinois: 24-year-old Shaquille Dukes, a black hospital patient suffering from double pneumonia is handcuffed and arrested by police as he walks outside the hospital on doctor’s orders tethered to an IV drip and is charged with attempted theft of hospital equipment.
・March 1, 2019, Boulder, Colorado: A cop pulls a gun on 26-year-old black college student Zayd Atkinson who is picking up trash in front of his dormitory.
・November 12, 2019: Indianapolis, Indiana: Black shoppers Aaron Blackwell and Durrell Cunningham are detained by a police officer in a mall parking lot for “acting suspicious.”
・ September 19, 2019, Orlando, Florida: Kaia Rolle, a 6-year-old black girl, is zip-tied and arrested for battery by police after throwing a tantrum at her elementary school. She is taken to a juvenile processing center where she is fingerprinted and her mug shot taken.
・September 19, 2019, La Paz, Arizona: Philip Colbert, a black 22-year old car salesman, is pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy after being tailed for 20 minutes and questioned because an air-freshener was hanging from his rearview mirror. He is then asked at least ten times whether he is in possession of marijuana, even after telling the officer that he never smoked it and does not have any in his car.
・September 12, 2019, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Jahvon Beener, a black 15-year-old high school student, is detained by police while waiting with his friends at a bus stop.
・August 13, 2019, Royal Oak, Michigan: Police stop 20-year-old Devin Myers, a black man, after receiving a call from a white woman who claims he was staring at her “suspiciously.”
・July 4, 2018, Winston-Salem, North Carolina: a white man calls 911 on Jasmine Abhulimen, a black mother, and her son when she refuses his demand to show him an ID to use the community pool.
・May 7, 2018, New Haven, Connecticut: A white female Yale university student calls police on Lolade Siyonbola, a 34-year-old black female graduate student who was napping in the common room of their dorm.
As the above woefully incomplete list of incidents demonstrates, America has another pandemic, one which has existed long before the current one, but which has proven itself equally insidious and fatal. Although RAPROD-∞ (Racial Profiling Disease) sporadically makes headlines, it has festered in this nation for generations.
COVID-19 does not discriminate; RAPROD-∞ does. Despite repeated outbreaks of the disease, no national emergency has been declared. Business goes on as usual. Stocks have not plunged (In fact, private prison stocks have soared to meet expanding demand). No tests have been devised to detect its carriers.
While hand-washing is an effective method of combatting the spread of COVID-19, washing one’s hands of RAPROD-∞ has only made matters worse. Part of the problem has been the minimization of its impact on black America by those who ignore the devastation inflicted by super spreaders like former New York mayor and failed presidential contender Mike Bloomberg who in 2015 asserted:
95 percent of your murders – murderers and murder victims – fit one MO. You can take the description, Xerox it, pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city. That’s where the real crime is. You have to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. . . .They still have a gun but they leave it at home.
In doing so, “RAPROD Mikey had taken a page from the playbook of former Education Secretary William Bennett, who in 2005 insisted, perhaps in a bid to become the director of the CBC (Center for Black Control), that to reduce crime: “You could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensive thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.” Ten years later, Bloomberg would contribute his own penultimate solution to the crime problem, apparently under the impression that while aborting black babies en masse is reprehensible, indiscriminately stopping, frisking, and arresting blacks is not.
This should not come as a surprise us since one of the symptoms of RAPROD-∞ is a propensity of carriers to ignore empirical evidence that contradicts their biases. Bloomberg insisted that blacks have guns. When they don’t, he posited, it is simply because “they leave [them] at home,” a revealing conclusion given that a 2013 New York City Public Advocate Office study of NYPD statistics had already found that white people are more likely to carry weapons and drugs than blacks and Latinos.
Specifically, the office found that:
・The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded a weapon was half that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered a weapon in one out every 49 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 71 stops of Latinos and 93 stops of African Americans to find a weapon.
・The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded contraband was one-third less than that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered contraband in one out every 43 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 57 stops of Latinos and 61 stops of African Americans to find contraband.
・Despite the overall reduction in stops, the proportion involving African-American and Latino New Yorkers has remained unchanged. They continue to constitute 84 percent of all stops, despite comprising only 54 percent of the general population.
Nonetheless, RAPROD-∞ carriers are convinced that blacks disproportionately carry guns and other contraband. When they do carry guns, RAPROD-∞ carriers, many of whom are rabid defenders of the Second Amendment, assume those arms have been obtained illegally and believe that their owners should be dealt with proactively. Such attitudes can prove fatal, as in the case of Philando Castile whom police shot to death after he informed them that he was in legal possession of a firearm, insuring that there would be one less black to inevitably contribute to the crime rate. Before he was killed, police had previously stopped Castile for minor traffic violations 52 times, leaving little doubt that like the nation as a whole the Minneapolis police department has succumbed to RAPROD-∞.
Hate in the Time of RAPROD-∞
But police are not the only group afflicted with RAPROD-∞; the civilian population, particularly white women (BBQ Becky, Cornerstore Caroline, Golfcart Gail, Keyfob Kelly, and Permit Patty), are also at high risk, though white males (Coupon Carl, ID Adam, Jogger Joe, Pool Patrol Paul) have also been identified, the affected communities that have had to deal with them dubbing both with an alphabet soup of satiric sobriquets that poke fun at the malevolent stupidity of their actions and serve as a psychological prophylactic against daily traumas.
The Arizona sheriff’s deputy who stopped Philip Colbert accused him of being “deceptive” because he was shaking and looked “nervous”; the cop who detained Jahvon Beener in his police wagon for being shirtless on an 87-degree day eventually released him after smirkingly demanding he tell the students who had been waiting at the bus stop with him that “you were shaking in the car in the police car.” According to Beener, before he was released, the officer had asked him why he was shaking and shirtless. When Beener told him it was “because it was hot outside” the officer “acted like he didn’t believe me. He let me out and I felt humiliated and hurt.” Beener had good reason to shake: “I was scared for my life,” he told a reporter, a reasonable fear given law enforcement’s habitual lack of regard for black lives.
Similar fears were expressed by Sultan Benson: “I’m from the Southside of Chicago. I wasn’t supposed to make it to college…I made it to college, and I got the police called on me for being in the classroom…You know what’s going to happen in that 20 seconds. If I hadn’t kept my composure, I could have been riddled with bullets, tased, beaten down, handcuffed – there’s no telling.”
Young children are especially vulnerable to psychological ravages of RAPROD–∞. “I felt humiliated,” said 9-year-old Jeremiah Harvey, whom Cornerstore Caroline had wrongly accused of grabbing her butt when his backpack accidently brushed her in a Brooklyn bodega. “It’s still hard because I have this lately on my mind,” he said, “I can’t think of nothing more but this.”
Untreated, RAPROD-∞ is often fatal – not to those who have contracted it but to those exposed to them. The disease is rarely lethal to carriers. At worst, they resign their jobs, are fired or suspended, suspend their presidential campaigns, or become the object of fleeting social media notoriety. This is not the case for those who are exposed to the disease by virtue of their blackness and who can never regain their stolen innocence.
In the three months since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been daily, detailed data dumps on the number of victims it has claimed, as well as how to cope with the psychological, sociological, and economic toll of the crisis. This has not been the case with RAPROD-∞. There is little mention of the number of blacks and browns who have lost their jobs and their lives because of spurious 911 calls and jittery, trigger-happy cops, and nervous neighbors, storeowners, teachers, and shoppers who feel threatened by anyone of any age with a tincture of melanin.
At least with COVID-19, social distancing has helped alleviate the impact of the pandemic. Not so RAPROD-∞. Carriers of the disease such as Keyfob Kelly and ID Adam have physically blocked blacks from entering their own homes. In fact, Kelly was so “uncomfortable” with one black male resident entering “my building” that not only did she unsuccessfully try to block him from entering, she followed him inside, rode the elevator alone with him to his floor, and followed him down the corridor to the door of his apartment until he entered and self-isolated.
At worst, blacks may suffer the fate of Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed by police in her Fort Worth, Texas home in 2019, or of Botham Jean, another Texas casualty who was murdered in his own apartment by a white female police officer who mistook it for hers. Mentally ill blacks are particularly vulnerable. In New York in 2011, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a 68-year-old former Marine was tased, shot with bean-bags, and ultimately fatally shot by police when they broke into his home after he accidentally triggering his medical alert device.
The Penultimate Solution
Despite these outbreaks of RAPROD-∞, the pandemic has not risen to the level of a national emergency, perhaps because those most affected by it constitute a powerless minority. National statistics are not kept on the number of carriers and their victims, and containment strategies have yet to be seriously discussed. In response to the crisis, cellphone cameras and access to social media have become a mandatory survival tool like condoms during the HIV/AIDs crisis. Black families have developed “the Talk” to prepare their children for how to deal with police in particular and racially paranoid whites in general. But how young should such discussions start? With 6- and 7-year-olds who act out in class? Eight-year-olds who have the police called on them by licensed cannabis entrepreneurs for selling bottled water without a permit? Twelve-year-olds who have police sicced on them for mowing lawns? (In Florida alone, over the past five years, 5% of all juvenile arrests have involved elementary-aged children.)
Or taking a hint from Bennett, should they be prepared in utero for the post-natal, societal abortion that awaits them?
* [In a hostage situation] try to humanize the victims by using their names.