May 26, 2005

There is no equating our problems or grievances with an individual!

There is something to be said about Black folk whom the Black community rally around to bring attention to a problem that is bigger than the individual whom we rally around. Too often we are finding out that the person we rallied around lied or continue to have run-ins with the police, and because of that, there are those who seek to dismiss our rallying cry based on the behavior of the individual whom situation allowed us to shine a light on a wrong being perpetrated in America.

The Black community and Black activist rallied around and for Lionel Tate when he was giving a life sentence for the brutal beating of 6yr old Tiffany Eunich. I do not believe anyone actually believed that Lionel Tate should not be punished for his actions, most of those who rallied around Lionel Tate objected to a life sentence being handed down to a 12 year old and thought it was a bit extreme and basically condemned him to a life in prison without any chance for rehabilitation. Also during the same time Lionel Tate was tried and convicted, those two young white boys who beat their father to death with a baseball bat was tried for his murder and received seven and eight year sentences a big difference from the life sentence that Lionel Tate received. The objective of rallying around Lionel Tate was to bring attention to a criminal justice system and the difference in treatment received by Black folk when compared to white folk that is more than obvious to Black folk and to further the conversation surrounding juvenile justice and their chances at rehabilitation.

Then there is the infamous beating of Rodney King that was caught on tape. Police brutality was and is nothing new to the Black community, we have lived with police brutality for as long as their have been a police force in this country. We had made several complaints about the abuse dished out by law enforcement but were constantly ignored, then came proof beyond a reasonable doubt (so we believed) that police brutality was real. When the tape of Rodney King beating beamed around the country and around the world, Black folk rallied together and around King with the belief that this incident will bring attention to a problem that is very real in our community. In the end, the officers were acquitted and riots ensued, not because Rodney King got beat down, the riots were in response to the verdict that said what we saw on that tape is not what really happen, essentially furthering the lie that policy Brutality is not real.

Finally, there is Tawana Brawley who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the police. Back in 1987, long before Rodney King was beat down, Tawana Brawley proclaimed to the world that she had been sexually assaulted by three or four white police officers. Due to the relationship that Black folk had and continue to have with the police throughout this nation, it was not hard for Black folk to believe that white police officers would engage in this kind of behavior, thus the Black community rallied around and for Tawana Brawley to bring attention to a problem that was real to us long before Tawana Brawley was allegedly raped.

All three of these cases played a pivotal role in bringing attention to a problem that was and is real, however, each one of these cases have also served or is serving as a means to discredit truths that are not dependent on any of these cases. The Tawana Brawley case ended with her being exposed as a liar and a fraud, who had not been attacked at all and because of that her case went from one that brought attention to a real problem that exist to one used to discredit any reports of police malfeasance by young black men and women.. Rodney King continued run-ins with the law even after receiving a million dollar plus settlement solidified the belief in white minds that the jury was right in acquitting the white police officers and that Rodney King and anyone like him probably deserved what they get or got. And then there is Lionel Tate, whom after having his life sentence over turned has had two brushes with the law with the latest being him robbing a pizza man and beating up a 12 yr old. For the critics who thought Lionel Tate should still be serving a life sentence his continued run-ins with the law serves as proof that justice was served when he was giving a life sentence.

I believe in the future when we (black folk) rally around an individual in an effort to bring attention to a problem that is real and need to be addressed, we should make it clear what it is we are doing to prevent anyone from equating the person or persons we rally around and for with the problem being addressed. This is what has happened and is happening with the cases mentioned above, the people whom we rallied around is being equated with the problem that we sought to address through these individuals and their experience thus when these individuals are proven to be frauds, habitual criminals and possible socio-paths the grievances that were addressed based on an experience they had looses its creditability thus making it appear that all like grievances are unfounded. Some of us are too fickle to have a battle of any kind relied on our ability to stay out of trouble or be honest, thus we must make it clear that the grievances we have as a people are not based on an individuals experience but the experiences that most of us have with law enforcement and the justice system

Of course there are men and women who we rallied around and for to address a grievance who did not or do not continue to get in trouble or have run-ins with the law, an example of that is Abner Louima who was brutalized and sodomized by the NYPD, and a more recently example is Marcus Dixon who was accused of rape and found innocent of that charge only to have a loop whole in the law used against him to sentence him to ten years in prison. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned his sentence by a close 4-3 vote and we have not heard anything else from or about the brother but if he were to get in trouble, the critics who believes his sentence should not have been overturned will surface and again use an individual to discredit a movement that seeks to undue all and any injustice in this nation and because of that we must make it clear that there is no equating our problems or grievances with an individual, these individuals are simply one from amongst the many who are victims of police malfeasances or an unjust justice system.


At 11:39 AM, Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I don't really get what you are trying to say here.

Basically, we must address systemic problems that affect our community. But if we don't call a spade a spade, we lose credibility.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

Not exactly, I do not think Black men and women have a problem calling a person what he or she is, my contention is that the individual behavior of whom ever we rallied around can not be used after the fact to discredit the work we put in to correct an injustice. Take the Lionel Tate life sentence; no matter how you cut it, it was an injustice thus our speaking out against the injustice and having it corrected can not be over shadowed or discredited by his behavior after the fact. They are completely separate. As with the Rodney King beating, his continued run-ins with the law does not negate the fact that the jury was wrong in acquitting those officers nor does it negate the reality that the police used too much force when apprehending him.

However, critics who were on opposing sides of both of these situations mentioned above, try to use the behavior of the person after the fact as proof that the injustice done to them and later corrected was actually just and we know that not to be true. Thus they try to equate the individual with the grievance when the grievance is bigger than the individual himself or herself.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

OK, I see. I agree.

It just sucks that in the typical police beating, etc. case, the guy that gets beat is some dumb ass negro committin' a crime. Like out here in LA, the police beat a guy named Stanley Miller with a flashlight. Miller had been driving through South LA and nearly hit several people. Most blacks I know thought he deserved what he got.

It's the cases like Louima that really make peoples' blood boil.


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