Tuesday, January 13, 2009

who's oscar grant? we are.

for that matter, we are Dymond Milburn and Michael Cho.

sometimes a person gets tired of saying all the things that need to be said.
it's horrific.
it's sad.
it's enraging.
it's awful.
something should be done about it.

yes, something should.

what I wrote to a Facebook friend who was trying to make sense of this shooting in the context of Obama's presidency and the upcoming inaugural celebrations:

Race is part of [this shooting] but the larger picture is the relationship of the State (as represented by the pseudo-militarized arm of the law) to the Individual. Although people of color are most likely to experience violence by armed authorities, there's a particular mindset, or value system, from the State that authorizes control over the individual, in the interest of the state, that affects all of us, regardless of color. In other words, the violence of this episode is just a small part of the other types of violence enacted against populations the State deems undesirable - based on class, race,sexuality, gender, nationality or religion. The State is about asserting authority by maintaining its power; Power is about control over individuals to cow the populace into submission. And that shooting is about Power run amok.

you're not short-sighted and these two things don't have to be diametrically opposed at all. which comes first the chicken (State) or the egg (Racism)? in my view, they each are signs of the other, both supporting the ends of the other. racism (and all the other associated -isms that go along with it: colonialism, imperialism,nationalism, jingoism) has been used like a handy tool by the State/Nation-State to justify genocide, mass murder, mass displacement, land theft, asset theft, slavery, etc. but on the micro-level, individual racists have hidden behind the symbols of the state to commit acts of personal hatred, in the name of the state. so i'd say it's a matter of both/and, not either/or.

in a conversation with my father before i flew back to chicago after christmas we were talking about a family friend's son, his close call with the sherriff's department in Porter Ranch, and what's at play when police are caught abusing their power.

two older men, clearly ex-law enforcement, sat next to us while we ate breakfast. (in LA, you can always tell who's been a cop. white or of color, they all have that no bullshit, soldier face, and give off a sense that they can jump off at any moment. they were not pleased at my conversation.)

my father is an ex-LAPD chaplain and very much on the side of law & order, but lately there have been too many incidents of young black men he knows barely escaping bullshit arrest and beat downs at the hands of police - escaping because of my father's intervention. he was of the mind that race is the primary motivator.

i shook my head. 'it is and it isn't. it's really about the State controlling the individual. race is a convenient narrative for the victim, the media, even the police department to sell but if we're at all honest about how power works and in whose interest, we're all under the boot. white folks think they're safe because they're not black or brown or they live in good neighborhoods and the cops don't shoot them in the street like dogs. bullshit.

you think the police couldn't - wouldn't - lock down LA now the way they did in '92 during the riots? whose interests are protected by all these acts of police brutality? they're hate crimes, created to cow the populace into submission - and it works! we allow them to videotape us, enter our homes without cause, search our cars, surveil our neighborhoods - and we say ok to all of it because they carry a gun and a baton. sure, it's race, but it's about class, sexuality, politics and mostly about suppressing resistance, suppressing criticism. and we let them do it.'

my dad had a funny look on his face. 'girl, where do your ideas come from?'
i rolled my eyes. 'you!'

next to us, the two ex-cops paid their bill, looked hard at me and left.

read more:
the video of Grant's death
Feministe on his execution
BART security are not merely security guards.
M. Dot at Racialicious on how Gran'ts killing haunts them
the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and their PoliceWatch initiative, on what can be done about police brutality
Jack&Jill on an incident of being profiled
Ryan Takemiya on Asian solidarity with the black community in the wake of the Grant murder
RaceWire has a few 'take action' recommendations.
Did you know Mukasey moved to strip immigrants of their rights to due process and access to counsel? (this crap is all connected, people)
Womanist Musings on teaching her sons to distrust the police
Richard, at fem.men.ist, connects various dots (including the Greek riots in response to a police shooting) and puts this event in the larger context of international police action against civilians (including what's happening in Gaza.)

what a way to open the year.

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