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Wednesday, July 13, 2016


a repost

Let me begin this post a few uncomfortable truths:
1) Respectability politics works.
2) Automatically trusting black faces in high places is a mistake
3) Freddie Gray was beaten to death. Period.
He was beaten to death no matter when his spine went from 30% broken (before the van?) to 80% broken to beyond repair, no matter where he drew his last breath.
Again, respectability politics works.
But it doesn't work thoroughly or for very long. It also requires you take a chance on compromising your own sanity. A good many of our black heroes of history believed in it and used it with varying degrees of success before some gave it up. W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T Washington, Ida B Wells are but a few examples that at least tried it on for a while, long before phrase "respectability politics" came to be.
In fact, there was a long time within black history, at least through the 1960s and 70s(?) where black people would open chastise other black people with the phrase "stop showing your color." While my family hated that phrase, conforming with "respectability politics" was expected of me, especially in front of white people.
Some of what I remember as playing at respectability politics is part of wearing the white mask in white dominated circles, but that's a different story for a different time.
Today we're talking about the outcomes of respectability politics for the black people who play the game well without even knowing they are playing it. Today we're talking about the people who may have become their mask.
Respectability politics played well and played with finess before a white audience can and has moved a fair percentage of our elites, our black black one percent into the "You're a credit to your race" zone. And while that zone is a white supremacy constructed zone, it is a zone within which some black people prosper. Some black people that prosper within the "Credit To Your Race" Zone know they are wearing the white mask that allows them past the white gatekeepers where promotions, power, and profit are to be had. And they take it off when they go home,
Barack Obama, for example, during his first run for president said a few things I knew he couldn't possibly believe as a black man.
And for the most part, black voters recognized the dance he was doing and shut up when he had to side step this mess or that one. That's why most of us didn't get too ugly when presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, did not spend too much time explaining to **racism deaf, dumb, and blind white voters** what kind of truth, disappointment, and justifiable anger his pastor Jeremiah Wright was expressing in his sermons.
Yet, other black people become confused in their use of respectability politics, internalize white racist ideation, and attempt to become their mask.
Bill Cosby (pre rape accusations) and his Pound Cake Speech was a clear bid to be in the "credit to your race" zone. A whole host of people like Pharrell Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Don Lemon, those we've been calling "the new blacks" are really the black one percent. They've made "colorblind" race statements that discerning people of color despise and un-discerning colorblind racism loving white people adore.
I don't know if Marilyn Mosby, prosecutor of those responsible for the death of Freddie Gray, is wearing her mask or has become one with her mask. I don't know her so I'll never know one way or the other. But I can look at her behavior But I do know that black people are divided by gender, skin shade, status, income levels, and class -- just like white people are. So I know that I might observe that there are different behaviors and life experiences among black people because of their gender, skin-shade, status, income levels, and class. And, I know that the powerful seeking more power make choices for personal gain, even when they are black. And I'm guessing that Marilyn Mosby is one of the black 10% if not the black 1%. (Talking power, not just money in this case) And I'm guessing that this matters in the same way that it usually does. A black person who becomes one of the Black One Percenters does not get there by accident. These are people that seek power, just like the white one-percenters, Latinx one-percenters, and Asian one-percenters. Unlike the white one-percenters, the black, brown, and asian one-percenters often have an ethnic or race based choice to make:
"How far into the white defined status quo do I move in order to get powerful and/or rich?"
Oprah's Choice - Her magazine is mostly white. When people talk about "black magazines," like "Essence," "Ebony," and "Jet." Her magazine is not mentioned.
Don Lemon and Bill Cosby's Choices - They have made statements that indicate that they lean heavily into respectability politics.
Pharrell, Common, and a whole host of "new blacks" have made choices - They have chosen to believe in a white view of race, a view that race is not significant factor in life chances (because "I got mine. Now you get yours.") They often say things that indicate they believe in a predominantly white colorblind racial theory which has been accurately identified, in my opinion, as the newest form of racism.
 There's nothing wrong with wanting to be rich or powerful. But when one is not rich and one is also black, one has to keep ones eyes open and realize that "All your skin-folk are not your kinfolk"
You have to acknowledge that some black people are not having the same range of life experiences as someone middle class. And middle class black people have to realize that poor black people are having different experiences as well.
We talk about colorism too infrequently and in shallow ways in the black community. But we talk about status, class, and power divisions between us even less. And we, as black people have the same divisions among us that white people do, as all people do. We need to stop being ashamed of being divided. Shame shuts down the brain.
We might even have less division than other groups because some rich and/or powerful black people remember how life was before they were rich and/or powerful And sometimes the black rich still get treated like an n-word in a fancy store which also keeps us unified, keeps the black rich somewhat connected to the plight of the black poor. But some black people go on over to the dark side, the white supremacy side, in part or altogether.

That is, black people who seek power sometimes (or often) seek to satisfy the status quo because that's where more power is often located.
And the status quo in this country is constructed by white supremacy even when white people are not even very present in positions of power
This is very likely why Chocolate City Baltimore does NOT have a police brutality rate, complete with anti-black bias, that's lower than any other place in the nation. Baltimore's police brutality rate is on par with every other city in the nation.
All of what's been discussed above is why it should not be surprising that Chocolate City Baltimore had a black mayor that called Black Lives Matter protesters "thugs" (the new n-word) And she said this despite the fact that the protests were peaceful in black neighborhoods and less so when attacked in white neighborhoods.
In 2015, I kept hearing rumors that black folks had never had that much use for the mayor, Stephanie Rawling-Blake but they loved and trusted Marilyn Mosby.
But I've been thinking that this trust was misplaced from the very first time she started communicating that Freddie Gray's death was not about race. And believe me, though she never used those words, that is what she's been shouting over the last year.
In 2015, when Marilyn Mosby pulled three black police officers from out of nowhere and effectively ended the protests Baltimore by presenting an image to the world that screamed,


Officers arrested for Freddie Gray's death Alice White, Brian Rice, William Porter Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, Caesar Goodson
Making statements that Freddie Gray died as a result of injuries sustained in the van, operated by an all black crew, due to the lack of a seat belt screamed what the white created status quo wanted to hear a second time, FREDDIE GRAY'S DEATH WAS NOT ABOUT RACE
It's been clear to me from the very beginning that Marilyn Mosby's job, when she first took the national stage at a press conference, was to stop the Black Lives Matter Protests. And saying, "FREDDIE GRAY'S DEATH WAS NOT ABOUT RACE" got that done -- and it got it done instantly.

Some people have taken Mosby's word that Freddie Gray was given a "rough ride" at face value. But what I heard her say at the press conference was that "sometimes officers give people they arrest a rough ride" which is a hypothetical. Then she went on to say that Gray was not put in a seat belt like he was required to be
-- a rule that had been put in place just 9 days before.

Then, almost immediately after talking about the hypothetical rough ride, she arrests three black and three white officers, presents their images, ends the Black Lives Matter Protests, and starts making an argument we never would have believed coming out of a white face.
Judge Barry Williams
The judge in the case said he looked at video and said that he didn't see any indication that there was a "rough ride," proof that the driver had stomped on brakes hard, gone around corners fast, sped up and slowed down. So sans any physical proof, Mosby charged the black van driver with murder charges, the most serious charges?
And due to her ""The Van Did It" Theory" the entire country has shifted its focus off Freddie Gray's false arrest(?) and beating onto his transport in a police van that many people seem to have mistaken for an ambulance.
Clearly, the van containing the black officers did not arrive until after Gray's beating was well over. More importantly, to me and many others, it looks like something is wrong with Gray's neck before he placed in the van.
Freddie, body broken before the van? Neck off at odd angle
It is clear that Gray's death was very much about race. Chasing and arresting someone over eye-contact is quite often about race in this country. But Mosby made Freddie Gray's death all about a seatbelt and police van operators not treating the police van like an ambulance when they probably didn't know how badly Gray was beaten. How would the van personnel know how badly hurt Gray was? After all, the black officers didn't
1) beat Gray and they didn't
2) put him in the van.

While it is probably true that officers all over the country don't treat the drunk, the high, and the mentally ill homeless in their police vans like they'd want one of their own treated, that was not what Mosby was supposed to be focused on. We wanted an explanation for why Freddie Gray is dead and why broken and in pain before he was put in the van.
We were not trying to find out the precise moment his spine when from 30% (?) severed to 80% severed. We wanted to know who beat Freddie Gray to death. We wanted to now who is primarily responsible for Freddie Gray's death. And to me it is clear that the false arrest is where the responsibility lies.
When somebody robs a house and as a result the homeowner trips over his kid's toy truck on his way downstairs while holding the gun he intends to use in self defense and winds up dying somehow, the robber can wind up being charged with "felony murder."
This indicates that it is clear, in the eyes of the law, that the robber started things in motion that caused the homeowner's death. Therefore the robber can be charged with murder, as if the robber had intent to kill, even if the robber and the homeowner were never in the same room. False arrest should be one of the things that can be used to charge officers with "felony murder" same as a the robber robbing the house. But the supreme court is moving the opposite direction right now. Even so, this case should have been one of those test cases that made an attempt to change U.S. law. A chocolate city jury might have given Mosby a conviction. Her case could have been one of dozens of cases, one of which that might have eventually gone to the Supreme Court and establish new law.
Instead, she chose to flow into the white constructed status quo that leans into "This is not about race" so that the Black Lives Matter Protesters would stop moving through violent white anti-protesters in whiter neighborhoods. I don't think this case would be going any differently if it was being prosecuted in North East Texas, by a white man. But that still doesn't necessarily mean Marilyn Mosby has thrown this case on purpose -- just like I don't think Oprah's Magazine leaves black women out, more often than not, on purpose. But a seeking of power and success can wind up reproducing white supremacy when you're not careful. And it seems to me, on the surface, that black people at the top in Baltimore are not careful at all. * * * * *

Read More updated 7 3 16