The summary execution of my brothers, sisters, women, men and children is so commonplace that it becomes numbing ‘white’ noise in the minds of an entire continent.
“Every time these executions occur it is the same playbook.”
Two cases of extra-judicial, summary executions of Black People in America have gained national attention in recent weeks. Breonna Taylor was 26-year-old young woman shot over a half-dozen times while she slept in her bed. I have three children, all of them young women and any one of them could have been Breonna. Breonna is dead.
Less than three weeks before Breonna’s murder, Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death. He would have, like Breonna, soon turned 26. Ahmaud is dead.
Both of these killings were incredibly brutal, vicious, and violent. Even though the two executions occurred months ago, they are just recently receiving attention. I can only wonder how many more executions have taken place that the public is unaware of due to the ubiquity and constancy of same.
Part of the difficulty in writing this column is trying to incorporate all of the names of the summary executions of Black People in America in just the past decade. It is both a conundrum and a psychological abyss, because as a writer, father and Black Person in America I feel compelled to mention all of the names. However, the names are so multitudinous it is virtually an impossible task; in addition to running the risk of anesthetizing the reader (and that is the greatest tragedy of all). The summary execution of my brothers, sisters, women, men and children is so commonplace that it becomes numbing “white” noise in the minds of an entire continent. Trayvon, Tamir, Freddie, Oscar, Tony, Sandra, Botham, Walter, Atatiana and the plethora of others are all dead, but the cessation of their heartbeats was just the first killing.
“The names are so multitudinous it is virtually an impossible task.”
The first killing is a result of hatred, a penchant towards brutality and a false sense of superiority.
Once the body that housed the summarily executed Black Person in America is destroyed and traumatized, the second killing begins. The body is the first part of a triumvirate, the second part is the character of the executed. This second killing is a result of denial, hypocrisy and the inner conflict that arises from both.
The third killing is the general demoralization of Black People in America as a group. This holy trinity results in a psycho-social electric fence. And it is very much by design.
As part of my research for this writing, it became necessary for me to look up the case of Latasha Harlins. I am from Los Angeles and remember the case quite well. It makes me as sick to my stomach today as it did then. Few people realize that the “riots” in Los Angeles in 1992 did not occur solely because of the Rodney King case -- it was Latasha’s murder that lit the fuse. It was not enough to, literally, blow the brains out of a fifteen-year old girl and shoot her from behind (her family had to have a closed-casket funeral); that was the first killing. The second killing came when the media propagated stories of parents who “smoked crack,” her father being a practitioner of “domestic violence,” her mother being killed outside a bar, etc. None of the sympathy was afforded her that would be afforded a white child under similar circumstances which, granted, do not exist.
“It was Latasha’s murder that lit the fuse.”
What did the alleged shortcomings of her family have to do with that child being slaughtered? Every time these executions occur it is the same playbook: Trayvon once, allegedly, had weed in his book-bag (I wonder how many 17-year old suburban white boys have weed in their book-bag), Ahmaud “had a prior arrest record,” “authorities found traces of drugs in their system,” and on and on. Oddly enough, the folks that carry out these summary executions, especially slave-patrollers, are never tested for drugs. In fact, most police unions vehemently oppose drug testing of its members.
The second killing has to be undertaken to justify the first; essentially its purpose is to lower the value of the life of that Black Person in America in order to mitigate responsibility and/or guilt. When I can convince myself that you are of worthless character, then it is not difficult for me to convince myself that your physical person is worthless. Or, better said by Voltaire: “If I can convince you of absurdities, then I can get you to commit atrocities.”
Finally, comes the third killing; the killing of the spirit of a people. In the case of Latasha, her murderess received a $500.00 fine and 400 hours community service. It was a direct, and intentional, message to Black People in America. Trayvon’s murderer not only was never met with justice, he sold the gun he murdered the boy with for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a direct and intentional message to Black People in America. The same with all of the others -- and the perpetrators keep getting away with it in perpetuum.
It does not matter if it is Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Abraham Lincoln or Barak Obama; democrat nor republican in the White House, the legislature or the Supreme Court. It does not matter if it is so-called “terrorism” nor a pandemic; flood nor drought, the executions remain constant. The duopoly of political parties is an insult to Black People in America and we allow them to insult us. We are not powerless, not by a long-shot, but we lack unification. The killings must end, and they will only end if there are consequences on all fronts. Trying to inform European-Americans of a truth that they are not only aware of, but created, is imbecilic and probably very amusing to them. Let me say, for the record, I don’t find a damn thing funny. Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.
Rohn Kenyatta is a writer and intellectual raised in the "Rolling 60's" neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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