by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Black youth in the U.S. have crossed a kind of Rubicon, and the rulers are fearful — and so are their henchmen in the Black Misleadership Class. “When a Black beauty queen calls Micah Johnson ‘a martyr,’ we know that the movement’s values have been internalized by a broad strata of the Black public.” Both wings of the duopoly are issuing dark threats of repression — a clear sign that those in power feel genuinely threatened.
Ready Or Not, the Black Movement Enters a New Stage
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The thrust of the threat is to tighten, rather than relax, restraints on dissent in the United States.”
Black America is at a point of political inflection. Over the last two years, an incipient movement that goes under the heading of Black Lives Matter has mounted an inspired resistance to the mass Black incarceration regime and its killer cops. At every fitful juncture, and as a matter of necessity, the best elements of this youthful movement have repudiated the Black Misleadership Class’s two generations-long collaboration with a system whose mission is to contain, control, terrorize and criminalize an entire people — what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow. The movement’s insistence on Black autonomy and a thoroughgoing transformation of society has reinvigorated the Black Radical Tradition and presented a genuine challenge to the political order in the Belly of the Beast.
And now the Beast, claiming virtuous victimhood, is preparing to ferociously reassert itself. In the wake of the killing of eight cops — five in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge — the rulers demand that the Black movement and its allies stand down, or face further repression. The language may differ in tone, but not in the thrust of the threat, which is to tighten, rather than relax, restraints on dissent in the United States.
The Republican wing of the duopoly, now proudly branding itself as the “law and order” party, trots out David Clarke, a deranged Black county sheriff from the racist suburbs of Milwaukee who, in an article published in The Hill, conflates Black Lives Matter and the Occupy Movement with ISIS, as equally enemies of “the rule of law.”
“The rulers demand that the Black movement and its allies stand down, or face further repression.”
Baton Rouge police chief Carl Dabadie Jr., whose militarized cops brutalized protesters, bystanders and journalists, alike, to put down demonstrations against the murder of Alton Sterling, retroactively justified his men’s storm-trooper behavior with claims that plotters as young as 13 years old were stalking his police — before Gavin Long exacted his solitary revenge. After Long was eliminated, Dabadie insisted that people were still gunning for his men. “We are up against a force that is not playing by the rules,” he said.
Joe Belmar, the police chief in St. Louis County, Missouri, which includes Ferguson, indicated that “reform” was no longer operative. “Dallas and Baton Rouge have probably showed us that we’re going to have to err on the side of protecting our officers so we can protect the community,” he said.
Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bell Edwards, who owes his job to Black votes, recently signed into law a bill that would make assaults on police a “hate crime,” joining a host of states that accord cops the status of a “protected class” — as if their firepower and longstanding legal impunities were not enough.
Democratic presidential nominee-to-be Hillary Clinton led off her speech to the NAACP’s annual conference with an admonishment that:
“We need police officers to help us make progress. These murderers threaten all of that. Killing police officers is a terrible crime. That’s why our laws treat the murderers of police so seriously, because they represent the rule of law itself. If you take aim at that and at them, you take aim at all of us.”
“Something has irrevocably changed in the psyche of Black youth.”
Clinton repeated the nonsense that the Dallas police were “protecting” Black Lives Matter protesters when they were targeted by Micah Johnson — as if that has ever been the purpose of the police presence at demonstrations against themselves. Her priority is “Officer safety and wellness — everything they need to do their jobs right and rebuild trust with their communities” – as if there were ever a reason for Black America to trust cops.
The rulers sense that something has irrevocably changed in the psyche of Black youth, that the imperative for dignity and self-determination — never quashed — is now active, excited, volatile, and ready to make the oppressor pay a price. Ready to “sacrifice,” as Gavin Long put it a few days before his death. When a Black beauty queen, the former Miss Alabama, calls Micah Johnson “a martyr,” we know that the movement’s values — the values of the Black Radical Tradition -— have been internalized by a broad strata of the Black public. When it becomes difficult to get the average Black person on the street to denounce Bros. Johnson and Long, then you know that a Rubicon of a kind has been crossed.
The Black Lives Matter phenomenon is energized by the system, itself, whose very mission provides the rationale for Black resistance. If there is to be even the barest beginnings of a state of peace, it is the cops, the enforcers of the ruling order, the occupying army of the supremely white 1%, that must stand down — not the movement against police repression. The occupation must end, and the Black community allowed to provide its own security — which would be a natural state of affairs in a country that was not in a one-sided state of war. But that would mark the surrender of the mass Black incarceration regime that was installed in response to the mass Black movements of the Sixties, a regime so uniquely vicious and pervasive that one out of every eight prison inmates on the planet is a Black American.
“It is the cops, the enforcers of the ruling order, the occupying army of the supremely white 1%, that must stand down — not the movement against police repression.”
If a president Hillary Clinton wants to call off the two-generation-long, one-sided war, she could begin by establishing a speedy timetable to bring mass incarceration down to 1972 levels, as demanded in the Black Agenda for Self Determination to be issued by the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, at a national conference in Philadelphia, August 13 through 15. Achieving this goal would require that six out of every seven inmates be set free, and further, that the criminal justice system that was devised to ensnare so many, mostly Black and brown men in its gulag be dismantled — or, at least, withdrawn to some section of the country where it would prey only on consenting white people.
If an 86 percent reduction in the prison population seems extreme, it’s because the post-Sixties system of Black mass incarceration, and its attendant police atrocities, has become normalized in much of the public mind — including among the hyper-targeted Black population. But 1972 was by no means a Golden Age for Black folks; it was the year after the Attica Rebellion, a time when Blacks thought we were already living under a mass Black incarceration regime. Who could have imagined that the nightmare had just begun?
No one expects the Regime to surrender — and neither will Black people. The demand that the movement stand down in deference to the “trauma” inflicted on the professional trauma-givers through the death of eight of their own, is an insult to Black American humanity, which is subjected to lethal assault by the regime’s security forces every day of the year. A rational solution to this asymmetrical warfare would be for the police to withdraw immediately from Black communities, and allow those communities to provide their own security — another demand of the Black Is Back Coalition’s agenda for self-determination.
Forward ever, backward never.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].