Ferguson, Mike Brown and the Fear of Angry Blacks

Tensions surrounding the officer-involved shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri have caused racial issues to come to the forefront of collective thought and discussion. Red and yellow, black and white; all types of Americans are discussing multiple topics from civil liberties to racism in response to the August 9 killing of unarmed, 18-year-old Mike Brown.

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Who’s afraid of angry blacks? (Instagram photo)

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Do you feel threatened by this peaceful demonstrator? (Instagram photo)

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This peaceful protestor enjoyed a bag of chips (left hand) while returning tear-gas to a group of state troopers in fatigues with automatic weapons and (gasp) dogs. (Instagram photo)

Immediately following the killing, the world’s attention was diverted to Saint Louis County’s militarized police force as they employed armored tanks, threw tear gas and instructed snipers to take aim at peaceful protestors; local government officials, Ferguson residents, activists, concerned citizens and journalists. Clearly there is an undiscussed fear of black unrest; hence the shoot-first antics of police officers in urban communities nationwide and the over zealous show of force as a preventative measure against mounting anger.

What aren’t we saying about Ferguson? Following State Patrol Captain Ron Johnson’s show of good-will; his appointment as safety-chief for the duration of the protests, and the peaceful atmosphere that persisted after he marched among demonstrators; passing out hugs and handshakes while promising to protect the people, the infamous robbery video emerged and seemingly undid the peaceful progress in an instant. In the aftermath of viewing Mike’s alleged shoplifting shenanigans, what have we subconsciously learned?

What does the video prove? Although the alleged theft is not a justification for the shooting officer’s actions, the video proves that Mike Brown was big, strong and scary. Stereotypes or facts?

Black people, both male and female, are often characterized as being aggressive, volatile and downright dangerous. Is this a true assessment of oppressed, frustrated black America? Could it be true that black people are angry? Could it be more than a stereotype that black people are violent? Call it a stereotype, or call it a justifiable attitude in the face of generational racist trauma; but call it something. Until we do, it is an elephant in the room.

Obviously it was wrong to execute Mike Brown in the middle of the street on a Saturday afternoon; regardless of what he stole. But will the shooting officer admit to being afraid of rebellious and volatile black teens and young adults? Will he admit that he was frightened because a large and aggressive black man did not immediately cower at the sight of his police cruiser?

Will the cop admit that he’s afraid of aggressive blacks and views them as an unmanageable, irrational and unreasonable bunch who threaten the well-being of communities by virtue of their very existence? Will he admit that he should never have been employed in law enforcement because when it comes to a strong and angry black man, his only defense is a pistol?

Will the officer face the public and admit that he believes the community is better off without men like Mike? Will he admit that saying, “Get the fuck out of the street,” was an assertion of his bravado; that he thought vocal aggression, his cop car and badge were sufficient to intimidate the two youths into submission. Will he admit that he felt helpless after realizing that between himself and the two youths, he was the only one who was afraid?

Will the officer admit that he became enraged and frightened by the audacity of Mike Brown to not back down? Will he admit that he was red-faced and sweaty-palmed with veins enlarged and adrenaline pumping, as he reached for his pistol? Or will he just describe the imminent danger he imagined and predicted for himself and the community; and the imaginary weapon Mike could have had?

What’s the appropriate response when you’ve got an angry black who won’t back down? We don’t know Mike’s state of mind. We don’t know what he said to the officer. However the video footage shows his aggression. It shows his fearlessness. The video shows his towering and bulky physical stature. It shows his lack of regard for the convenience store’s self-appointed loss control agent.

So what’s the procedure when a race of oppressed, yet strong black people decide to say, “Fuck the police,” whether in word or in deed? What’s the procedure when the guns and badges no longer scare young black America? Apparently the procedure is to kill.

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Indigentitis: The Answer to Affluenza

Affluenza defense: A slap in the face to poor convicts.

Affluenza defense: A slap in the face to poor convicts.

The “affluenza defense” made headlines recently when 16-year old, rich, white Texan, Ethan Couch, was found not guilty of killing the four people who died during his drunken joyride when he lost control of his vehicle. Avoiding a 20-year prison sentence, Couch’s Attorney argued that the teen can’t be held responsible for his actions because the nature of his rich life was such that his parents imposed no limits or restrictions; he was allowed to run wild. Therefore his actions were not his fault.

Teen drunk-driver Ethan Couch was given probation instead of jail-time after killing the victims above, because his wealthy upbringing affected his judgement and decision-making skills.

Teen drunk-driver Ethan Couch was given probation instead of jail-time after killing the victims above, because his wealthy upbringing affected his judgement and decision-making skills.

Whether critics agree or disagree with the “poor little rich kid” defense, it worked. Ethan was sentenced to ten years of probation. The courts have ruled that Ethan’s wealthy upbringing negatively influenced his ability to make wise, safe, responsible decisions. This ruling begs the question, “What about indigent youth, whose decision-making skills are, likewise, influenced by their upbringing?

Case in point: The Trayvonn Martin murder trial, which seemed to be an inquisition into the morals, habits and character of the deceased, rather than those of his assailant, featured tales of the N-word, stories about marijuana, and images of hooded sweatshirts, which, to some people, are threatening and indicate a hoodlum or thug. Why were these issues breached during the trial?

When Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvonn, it was because the jury believed Zimmerman was defending himself from a thug. But what if Trayvonn was socialized to fear non-blacks; that they kill young men like himself? Indigentitis.

When Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvonn, it was because the jury believed Zimmerman was defending himself from a thug. But what if Trayvonn was socialized to fear non-blacks; to believe that whites and other races kill young men like himself? Maybe he fought Zimmerman because he feared for his life. Why? Indigentitis causes black men to swing/shoot first, and ask questions later, when confronted on the streets.

George Zimmerman’s defense team successfully cast Trayvonn Martin as a threat. The jury became convinced that Zimmerman shot Trayvonn to save his own life. So the unspoken conclusion; that a black youth in a hoodie is dangerous, grew legs. Young black men haven’t felt safe on the streets since the verdict was rendered.

What does this have to do with Indigentitis? Indigentitis is the inflammation of tensions after prolonged exposure to poverty and injustices. Indigentitis can also be described as, “actions resulting from an upbringing wrought with poverty, destruction and death.”

Suppose Trayvonn Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy cracker,” to his face, and stalked Zimmerman down with the intent to kill before being killed? Indigentitis? Black men in America have seen themselves enslaved, lynched, hosed, beaten, raped, murdered, jailed and utterly degraded and disrespected for no reason other than the color of their skin. Poor black people. No wonder they stand at the ready to riot whenever a grave miscarriage of justice takes place. They suffer from indigentitis. Should anyone be surprised that black dollars are spent almost exclusively on entertainment, Jordan tennis shoes, depreciating cars and flashy jewelery? Say it slowly: Indigentitis; the urge to spend every dollar you acquire on material items that impress other poor people in your neighborhood.

Sometimes ghetto residents are killed for money, clothing, jewelry, or Jordans; indigentitis.

Sometimes ghetto residents are killed for money, clothing, jewelry, or Jordans.  Indigentitis causes an overwhelming urge to obtain flashy tennis shoes, clothing and jewelry by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, even robbery and murder.

When little Tameka is expelled from school after being caught in the act of theft, will the police bother to question her parents; the ones who taught little Tameka to steal bread and meat from the grocery store; because stealing is a means of EATING? Will little Tameka be sentenced to 10 years of hard time behind bars? Or will an attorney step forward to plead her indigentitis defense? Indigentitis causes people to steal on instinct to avoid hunger, starvation and death.

Is affluenza real? Obviously it’s real if its diagnosis prevented a 16-year old rich kid from going to prison after his wreckless driving caused four people to die and another to be paralyzed. Instead of arguing against the affluenza defense, maybe concerned citizens should advocate the indigentitis defense. That way, teenagers who sell drugs because they are surrounded by suggestions to do so, can be re-educated and counseled after successfully arguing  indigentitis. As it stands, poor teens and young adults are being sentenced to long terms in prison, which facilitates the vicious cycle of indigence…

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Billion-dollar corporations (record labels, television and radio broadcasters) spend unspeakable amounts of money promoting drug-dealing, while indigent black men are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate. Can drug dealers use indigentitis as a defense, since an entire economy and culture socializes them to sell drugs?

Sure, each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, but if Ethan Couch can blame his upbringing for his mistakes, so can anyone else. For instance, Chris Brown has repeatedly confessed that he witnessed his mother’s abuse at the hands of his father. Yet when he becomes involved in a domestic assault case, he is not shown leniency, nor is he given the opportunity to blame his upbringing. Why not?

And finally, what about the issue of slavery? Any fool can see that black Americans have a HARD TIME escaping poverty, drugs, miseducation, lack of education, violence, AIDS, sexual and physical abuse…the list goes on and on. Why are black people perceived to be more “loud” and “violent” and “aggressive” and “ghetto” than other races? Could it be the fact that blacks as a people were beaten, killed, raped, stolen, bought, sold, worked to the bone, abused, harrassed, and labeled inferior? Could it be that the entire black race suffers, in one form or another, from indigentitis. Sure, some black people are wealthy. But for the ones who are still poor, can indigentitis be used as a viable defense for stealing, killing, and etc? Can Kwame Kilpatrick argue affluenza? What about political family-enza?

Many people joke about Chris Brown's abuse of Rihanna, but Chris Brown was raised in a household where the woman was beaten. No, he didn't get counseling. No, he never "got past it." He repeated the behavior he saw from birth to his teen years. Indigentitis?

Many people joke about Chris Brown’s abuse of Rihanna, but Chris Brown was raised in a household where the woman was beaten. No, he didn’t get counseling. No, he never “got past it.” He repeated the behavior he saw from birth to his teen years. Indigentitis?