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I watched Fox News today.
For 6 full minutes.
They had a panel of 3 cops to discuss the current unrest…or so it seemed.
Of course, a token negro in uniform was amongst them.
“Defund the police” is the headline of this comical sketch.
That’s not the actual proposition; proponents promote funding “public safety” measures.
But shutting down the police is all the sly Fox heard, and
Cunningly called on these cops to comment upon THAT, only.
The first white cop went off: “We’re here for business owners and hard-working people.”
He didn’t address the threat to Black life, espcially cops’ roots and roles in terrorism.
The host nods knowingly, and they summarily reduce all this unrest to law-n-order.
No mention of the brutality of cops.
No discussion of their pattern.
Predictably, the other white cop gave a worst-case scenario about Domestic violence.
What would citizens do without cops?
He says this as if cops have some awesome reputation of domestic intervention.
Also, I’m thinking: But…
Wasn’t that black chick just killed in Texas last year,
Inside her own house,
In response to a neighbor calling the police for care one night.
The neighbor hadn’t even called 9-1-1, but rang the non-emergency number, and
They still came in blazing as they are wont to do in Black households.
“I just wanted them to check on her…
Her front door was open… it was late…
So, I was concerned,” the neighbor later says matter-of-factly on the nightly news.
Atatiana Jefferson was a law-abiding citizen,
Playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew.
She got shot dead.
Black people cannot call the police.
Not even a concerned citizen.
Check this: In my hometown, Breonna Taylor was also a so-called law-abiding citizen.
Not only was Breonna law-abiding, but she was a medical worker –
Essential during a global pandemic!
But, she was Black.
She was shot to death in her own house,
Moments after the police arrived.
Fox don’t talk about none of this.
They go on with the implicit assumption that
Either Black people are not law-abiding,
Or, Black citizens never need the police.
“Cops need to be more sensitive, sure…” the other white cop says, then adds 12 butts!
He looks like an ass.
This whole faux news channel reduces today’s protests to rioting and looting, law-n-order.
They have met every effort at Black liberation with the same hostility.
Though openly devoted to non-violence,
Those pundits called the good Reverend Dr. King a “radical,” an “outside agitator,” and
Much, much worse!
When we peacefully took a knee just a few years back for the same cause,
These same pundits were quick to diss us,
Dissed Beyoncé for taking over the Superbowl in Black Power fashion!
Dissed Nike for sighing Collin Kaepernick – posting videos of them burning their own Nike gear.
They diss every Black person killed by the police as “disobedient” and “non-compliant.”
They consistently diss our resistance as unpatriotic – the oldest race card,
Because for them, racism is a game.
As if they didn’t twist their Bible to say slaves had to be loyal to their masters.
As if our efforts to breathe life into the Constitution weren’t patriotic!
As if Crispus Attucks wasn’t the first American to die for Independence!
As if this weren’t some strange and rotten fruit!
These pundits said the same about Martin Luther King, the FBI’s “an enemy of the state.”
They said all of this, of course, until he was martyred.
Then eventually, they called him a hero.
Now, even this faux news channel quotes Dr. King regularly.
Cleverly, Martin Luther da King gets pulled out of the Fox’s hat at the sign of any racial trouble!
The token negro cop gets asked the token question:
He’s asked to speak on behalf of all Black people.
Perform for your master, [N-word]!
Luckily, this man changes the narrative from dissing these hasty solutions to
Talking about real, systemic change to a systemic problem.
It’s not even clear that the other guests command this level of vocabulary, keeping it so simple.
The other cops were set up to denounce this solution, and
They were neither asked, nor chose to address any single way of improving policing.
All responsibility is implicitly shifted to individual citizens:
‘Policing is fine, Black people just don’t act right!’
I wish they’d just gon’head and say it!
Luckily, this Black man is neither stepping nor fetching their white supremacy for them today.
Not today, Satan!
Again, the faux media pundit circles back to defunding the po-po.
At present, this is only the legislative solution presented by any lawmaker thus far.
Weeks later, that message emanating from Minneapolis had spread,
Even to Congress, although
Aunty Maxine had already reclaimed her time on this one.
Predictably, this incites the white cop to repeat his singular talking point like a quacking duck:
“We’re here for business owners and hard-working people,” again, in THAT order.
‘We’re not to be called upon as citizens’, as Toni Morrison said after 9-11.
Fox then seamlessly shifts back to “Agent Orange’s” economic talking points.
Cut to commercial.
After the ads, 45 comes back railing about saving Wall Street.
The faux host asks rhetorically if this will be “the greatest economic comeback ever!”
It’s like they can only ever speak in superlatives.
Finally, the host is optimistic in otherwise dreary times.
God bless America, and F everybody else!
I really wish they’d just gon’head and say it!
They gon’ be alright.
“Does the bench and parliament not have a duty to uphold and create the laws that progress our morality, […] if not to protect us from others, then to protect us from ourselves? Laws that allow us to diminish the humanity of anybody are not laws. They are frameworks for crime.”
John Davinier (Belle)
When we discuss the worst acts of human history, events that are often brought up are household names. The extermination of the Jews under the Nazis comes to mind, what is often called Auschwitz or The Holocaust. Others include Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and The Black Death of the 14th century. But Britain’s bombing of Dresden is not a household event, nor is the Bengal Famine under Winston Churchill (voted the best Briton by the British public) – who we decided to put on the £5-note. What about the Congolese Genocide under King Leopold II of Belgium, or Lord Kitchener in those Boer Concentration Camps? Concentration Camps are a British design but it’s always linked to Germany, due to how that story’s been framed. And Winston Churchill is a household name, as is parliamentary abolitionist William Wilberforce. But in discussions on colonialism, why do we know nothing of Amritsar, the Mau Mau, or Morant Bay? And when discussing Britain’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, why are those sorts of conversations more often than not, shutdown?
Britain still holds a nostalgia for its empire. Whilst Nelson is remembered as a war hero that led Britain to victory against the French and Spanish at Trafalgar, why do people seldom talk about his exploits as a man who protected slave ships crossing the Atlantic (for the Royal Navy), or married into a slave-trading family on Nevis? It was one of the jobs of The Navy to protect British commerce, including slaves. Property not people. Flesh for cash. We paint pretty pictures of British history that make this country look great, but when it comes to the darkness in our past, the establishment, and to an extent, the British public, slinks into its hole of historical amnesia.
Watching Amma Asante’s Belle last week made me ponder how we frame our colonial history in relation to national identity, but also institutional violence, then and now. Set in the backdrop of The Zong Case, the film follows (Black) mixed-race Georgian Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the niece of Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) – the ruling judge on that case and one of the most influential men in 1780s Britain.
“In the prolonged history of collective suffering which formed the story of Atlantic slave trading, few incidents compare to those of the Zong Case of 1781. Luke Collingwood, captain of the Liverpool ship, had 133 slaves thrown overboard to their death when supplies were running short, hoping to claim for their deaths on the ship’s insurance. The case came to court in London two years later, not for mass murder but as a disputed insurance claim.”James Walvin
We remember the history that makes us look good. We remember fifty years of abolition, and Dunkirk, but rarely do we shed light on the skeletons in the closets of “our heroes.” Are we too ashamed to admit that how Britain discusses its history and its icons is often too two dimensional? Are we too British to admit to feelings of guilt? We erect statues to White supremacists and slave traders, dumbing down our role in how we came to speak the terms “developing countries” and “third world struggle.” We put Rhodes in Zimbabwe, and named streets for monuments to king sugar and racism.
Belle brings a an alternative history, that slave stories happened within our borders too – from Buckingham Palace to the Merseyside River. Not only in distant lands in the American South and the West Indies. Reni Eddo-Lodge put it best, giving a snapshot of how in the 21st century the national psyche is so far removed from its past of genocide, conquest and stolen land.
“Although enslaved African people moved through British shores the plantations they toiled on on were not in Britain, but rather in Britain’s colonies. […] so, unlike the situation in America, most British people saw the money without the blood.”Reni Eddo-Lodge
And in 2019, we need to ask why William Wilberforce is a household name, and Granville Sharpe isn’t; and are we really too British to come to terms with the guilt of our past, or will we just keep calm and carry on?
Eddo-Lodge, Reni. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. Print
Walvin, James. A Short History of Slavery. London: Penguin, 2007. Print.