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Memorial Day was a tradition inaugurated after the American Civil War by (now) freed black Americans. Black America's history is American history, even while too many of those who are invested in the herrenvolk White dream and past of America in the present are dedicated to erasing such a basic fact from our schools, libraries, and other centers of learning.

Senior historian Dr. David Blight wrote a fine essay on Memorial Day's origins for The New York Times in 2011. It is still worth revisiting on this day.

But, did you know that the Confederacy is also included in Memorial Day celebrations? Moreover, that Barack Obama, the United States' first President who happens to be black has continued with a tradition where the White House sends a wreath to the Confederate Monument in Arlington?

Germany had the good sense to confront its Nazi past. yet, in the United States, the Confederacy, a treasonous rebellion that fought for white supremacy and to keep millions of black people as human property, is still celebrated and honored.

The Confederate flag is the American Swastika, the name of the founder of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, is still on schools and street signs in the South, and the White Right still embraces the language and iconography of the Confederacy as they bemoan and attempt to usurp Barack Obama's legitimacy and authority.

One of Blight's peers, Dr. James McPherson, along with other prominent historians and academics, sent a letter to Barack Obama in 2009 in which they suggested that he stop honoring the Confederates and their white supremacist cause on Memorial Day:

Early in President Obama’s first term, a group of academics that included prominent Civil War historian James McPherson asked him to end the tradition of sending a Memorial Day wreath to the Confederate Monument in Arlington, which they felt represented “the nadir of American race relations” and “a denial of the wrong committed against African Americans by slave owners, Confederates, and neo-Confederates, through the monument’s denial of slavery as the cause of secession and its holding up of Confederates as heroes.”

Obama opted instead to send wreaths both to the Confederate memorial and to the African American Civil War Memorial in the U Street neighborhood.

The matter of how and if the Confederacy should be honored on Memorial Day remains unresolved.

In Virginia, a group of Confederate sympathizers is upset that a local church will not allow them to fly the American Swastika during this year's Memorial Day celebrations:

John Branson is the current rector of Christ Church Episcopal in Old Town Alexandria, where Robert E. Lee worshipped and where 34 Confederate soldiers are still buried. Every year on May 24, the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, wearing their grays and bearing rebel flags, would hold a Confederate Memorial Day service. Branson says the rector before him put an end to the tradition. “The church has suggested that they take their ceremonies elsewhere.”

One member of the Confederate group calls the change of policy “intolerant.”

The parish still permits the group to hold a quiet wreath-laying ceremony in the churchyard but prohibits any display of Confederate regalia. “They have a full, formal color guard that they’d like to use, but they continue to display the Confederate flag, and we find that offensive,” Branson says.

Justice is so askew in America, that white supremacist sympathizers now complain that they are treated in an "intolerant" manner. Oh, I so dream of the day when that is in fact the rule in the United States.

Brother Doctor Martin Luther King Junior famously said that the arc of justice is long. Perhaps the arc of justice also has an ironic sense of humor as a black man who is President of the United States now sends a wreath to "honor" those who fought to keep people who look like him as human property, to be raped, murdered, tortured, and labor and wealth extracted from their bodies and souls in the service of white supremacist capitalist expansion and greed.

The secesh trash are likely rolling over in their graves at the thought of a black man being President of the United States. Alexander Stephen's white supremacist "Cornerstone Speech" is no comfort as their bones rot and they receive honorifics from a black man named Barack Obama, he who is the leader of a multicultural corporate democracy.


In the United States, the colorline is a paradox. It is story of continuity and change.

The colorline in the Age of Obama, and the post civil rights, era more broadly, are built upon a skeleton of white supremacy and white privilege even while the shape of its superstructure may suggest that much racial progress has in fact been made.

In the United States, the result—what is a type of institutional white supremacy that still features moments of direct, interpersonal “old fashioned” racism by the State and white individuals against people of color—is a riddle of sorts, the answer to which most reasonable, just, and good people already know. Unfortunately, White America continues to treat justice along the colorline as a type of unsolvable puzzle when in reality the answers are readily apparent.

There has been substantive racial progress in the United States in terms of dismantling de jure white supremacy. But, the impact of centuries of white supremacy as law, day-to-day practice, and culture, has not been fully (or I would suggest even significantly) remediated.

The symbolic progress along the colorline is substantial. The American people elected a black man as President. Post civil rights era America features a multicultural neoliberal leadership class and elite. While embattled by the Great Recession, the black and brown professional classes comprise a substantial part of the African-American community. America’s popular culture is global—and one of its hallmarks is the hyper-visibility of black and brown faces. “Diversity”, “tolerance”, and “anti-racism” are fully enshrined in America’s civil religion (even while not being fully embraced by all Americans in private or translating into full racial equality in the public sphere). The Black Freedom Struggle also inspired other groups of people such as gays and lesbians to fight for full equality under the law.

The symbolic progress along the colorline exists in tension with semi-permanent racial inequality in a society structured to protect, maintain, and advance white privilege.

For example, the United States maintains levels of school and residential segregation that have been unchanged since Jim and Jane Crow. Personal social networks are also highly segregated: 75% of white Americans do not have one non-white friend. Wealth and income inequality along the colorline is stark: white Americans have at least 10 times the wealth of black Americans (with some estimates suggesting that the gap may be almost 70 times greater). The Republican Party and the White Right have launched a viciously racist assault on the won in blood victories of the Black Freedom Struggle such as the Voting Rights, Civil Rights, and fair housing laws.

From the racist origins of modern policing in chattel slavery, through to Jim Crow era debt peonage and chain gangs, the American criminal justice system remains one of the most racist and discriminatory political institutions in the United States as it disproportionately and more severely punishes black and brown Americans as compared to whites.

The body of Freddie Gray, and the community of Baltimore in which he lived, display those attributes in stark and bloody relief.

The 1968 Kerner Report on the urban “riots” of the 1960s is a magisterial accomplishment.

However, the Kerner Report was not the only document to detail and explore the causes of the urban rebellions of that tumultuous decade.

Less known among the general public, David Sears’ and Tim Tomlinson’s 1968 article Riot Ideology in Los Angeles: A Study of Negro Attitudes was part of pioneering work in public opinion that actually sought to understand the beliefs and values of black Americans who lived in the urban communities that rebelled against white supremacy and racial inequality during the 1960s.

Sears and Tomlinson’s findings about the divergent understandings held by white and black Americans in response to the urban rebellions in the 1960s resonate in the present.

For example, in the aftermath of the Baltimore uprising, NBC and The Wall Street Journal conducted a poll which found:

Six-in-10 African-Americans said that the discord in Baltimore is attributable to "people with longstanding frustrations about police mistreatment of African Americans that have not been addressed." Twenty-seven percent said that the riots were "caused by people who used the protests about the death of an African-American man in police custody as an excuse to engage in looting and violence."

Among whites, those results were almost exactly flipped. Just 32 percent cited longstanding frustration about African-Americans' treatment at the hands of police, while 58 percent said the Baltimore violence was caused by those using Gray's death as an excuse for looting.

Sears and Tomlinson detailed how 58 percent of whites in their research felt that the Los Angeles area disturbances of 1965 were a “riot” as compared to 46 percent of blacks who felt the same way. Approximately 50 years later, white attitudes toward black “riots” have remained virtually unchanged.

By contrast, more than a third of blacks surveyed by Sears and Tomlinson felt that it was a “revolt, revolution, or insurrection”. Only 13 percent of whites had similar feelings. Almost a third of whites also felt that the “riots” were some type of “disaster, tragedy, mess, disgrace,” or other like term.

Sears’ and Tomlinson’s conversations with the black residents in the Los Angeles area during the time period of 1965 to 1966 revealed a sense of frustration, upset, and dismay at how racism and classism limited the life chances of the people who lived there.

In the conclusion to Riot Ideology in Los Angeles: A Study of Negro Attitudes, Sears and Tomlinson write how:

The causes of the riot were described in terms of genuine grievances with those who were attacked; e.g., a history of friction, discrimination, and economic exploitation with local merchants and police. The purpose of the riot was seen as being, on the one hand, to call the attention of whites to Negro problems, and on the other, to express resentment against malefactors...Perhaps the most important fact of all is that so many Negroes felt disposed to justify and ennoble the riot after it was all over. It was not viewed as an alien disruption of their peaceful lives, but as an expression of protest by the Negro community as a whole, again an oppressive majority.
Business Insider’s recent story on the social, political, and historical context for the killing of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore uprising mirrors the findings of Sears and Tomlinson:
Vaughn De Vaughn, a local teacher, told The Baltimore Sun: "This is about anger and frustration and them not knowing how to express it."

Coates makes the point that "when nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con."

The Baltimore Sun revealed in an extensive investigation published in September that the city has paid about $5.7 million since 2011 over police brutality lawsuits. The wording of the story's opening sentences seem like ominous foreshadowing today — the newspaper noted that "the perception that officers are violent can poison the relationship between residents and police."

Michael A. Fletcher wrote in The Washington Post that "it was only a matter of time before Baltimore exploded."

He continued: "In the more than three decades I have called this city home, Baltimore has been a combustible mix of poverty, crime, and hopelessness, uncomfortably juxtaposed against rich history, friendly people, venerable institutions and pockets of old-money affluence."

A New York Times profile of Freddie Gray’s neighborhood reveals a similar state of frustration, hurt, and alienation from The American Dream:
With high school diplomas, they have struggled to find well-paying jobs. Ms. Fair, prodigious at crochet, helps pay the bills by selling hats and baby blankets. Mr. Chapman has a license to repair heating and air conditioning systems, and he is beginning to train for a license to drive a commercial truck.

Mr. Chapman and Ms. Fair say they are a family just trying to make it in Sandtown, but they feel smothered by the crime and poverty — and by the police, who regularly pull over their minivan. “Once they look in the car and they see it’s a female with two kids, their face changes,” Ms. Fair said.

Ms. Moody finished the thought. “Oh, it’s a family.”

A 2011 report on Sandtown and an adjacent area, Harlem Park, compared those neighborhoods’ social indicators with those of Baltimore as a whole — not a high bar, since the city lags the state of Maryland and the nation on many counts. Still, Sandtown and Harlem Park had roughly double the city’s rates of unemployment, poverty, homicides and shootings, as well as liquor and tobacco stores per capita. Lead-paint violations were four times the city average, as was the percentage of vacant buildings. Sandtown and Harlem Park also had more residents in jails and prisons than any other neighborhood in the city, a recent study by the Justice Policy Institute found, with an annual cost of $17 million just to lock them up.

The dominant white media framed the uprisings of the 1960s as “riots”. As such, even in the immediate shadow of Jim and Jane Crow white supremacy, few white Americans were able to connect the legitimate grievances that black Americans felt about jobs, justice, and racial equality with the resulting urban unrest. In both the 1960s and the post civil rights era, the mainstream news media has largely failed to provide a proper historical and political context for the events and struggles along the colorline because it serves and defaults to the White Gaze and the White Racial Frame. There, black Americans are rendered as unreasonable and irrational as opposed to sensible, considered, and full political beings that should be empathized with and respected.

In its coverage of the Baltimore uprising, the dominant media frame defaulted to an old habit as both Right-wing propaganda operations such as Fox News, and more “centrist” outlets such as CNN both disseminated a narrative of black “thugs”, “outside agitators”, and “looters” who were interested in acting out the violence depicted in such movies as “The Purge”.

The most ethically and morally sick among the Right-wing media and pundit classes defaulted to a white fantasy of African-American violence and bestiality that in turn legitimates anti-black violence, police thuggery, and racism.

The National Review’s Ian Tuttle was especially noxious:

The riots, of course, had nothing to do with Freddie Gray. The anger over his death simply provided for the type of person who wants to rampage the excuse to do so. What makes the situation alarming is that the reaction of the powers-that-be was not to squelch hundreds of stampeding criminals, but to intellectualize away their animalism. Rather than clamp down on hordes of opportunistic thugs, Baltimore’s Oberlin-alumna mayor treated them as just extra-passionate protesters, whose interests required from the government a “balanced” response.
In the arena of practical politics and the 2016 presidential election the past lives in the present. The Republican use of “The Southern Strategy” involved efforts to gin up white racism and white racial resentment in the aftermath of the 1960s by evoking images of black criminality and “urban riots” to win white working class and middle class voters.

Right-wing elites and potential 2016 presidential candidates are already traveling in such cynical and racially fetid waters as they attempt to use the Baltimore Uprising to win white support.

There is an almost inevitable tragedy of loss, frustration, and failure in the aftermath of the urban rebellions of the 1960s and the Baltimore uprising of 2015.

African-Americans who participated in the protests and uprisings actually believe(d) that those acts would get the attention of White America in such as a way as to produce positive change in their communities.

From Riot Ideology in Los Angeles: A Study of Negro Attitudes:

In seeing the riot as a protest, a majority of the Negro population thought of it as a social-change action the principle aims of which were change in living conditions and aggression against the oppressor. Expectations about outcome should thus serve as critical considerations in Negroes’ thinking about the value of riots as instruments of social change…By all odds the most salient expectation was that whites would begin to redress Negro grievances. The effect of the riot mention first by 43 percent of the Negro respondents was help from outside the Negro community. An additional 13 percent cited the effect of greater white awareness of Negro problems, and more comfortable relations between whites and Negroes. Thus, a majority thought first of favorable change among whites.
Tomlinson and Sears also offer the following sobering truth: “Thus the changes desired by both races follow a well-worn path in American race relations. The white population is mainly willing to adjust when it is easy and convenient to do so…”

Theirs is a powerful observation in an era where continuity and change coexist along the colorline in a fitful paradox. African-American members of the leadership class, like their forefathers and foremothers in the black leadership class of decades past, use white racist language such as “thugs” to describe black protesters and resisters in cities such as Baltimore and elsewhere—while not using the same language to describe the real thugs and criminals among an out of control police that routinely murder and abuse people of color (and the poor) with impunity.

The problems of economic and racial inequality that caused the urban rebellions of the 1960s are the very same ones that inspired and pushed the young people of Baltimore and other communities to rebel in the year 2015. But, these old problems are treated as something novel and mysterious when in fact the causes have been well understood for decades.

With the killing of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore Uprising we are “back to the future”: Jim and Jane Crow white supremacy is a poltergeist that continues to haunt the American body politic in the 21st century.


The idea of "whiteness" as a strict racial category superior to others is an invention of Europeans, who needed to legitimate and normalize a system of white on black chattel slavery, global empire, and colonialism as being preordained by nature and God.

Yet the “common sense” belief that the racial ideology known as Whiteness has always existed is one of the greatest tricks in human history.

In all, Whiteness is a new invention. The ways in which it has been naturalized signals to its powerful role in an American society that was built upon a foundation of white supremacy, and that continues to maintain institutionalized systems of white advantage over people of color in the 21st century.

Of course, all white people do not benefit in the same way from the racial ideology known as Whiteness: class, gender, sexual orientation hugely impact their lives, among many other identities.

However, as a group, all white people benefit from Whiteness relative to non-whites.
But if Whiteness is a type of invention, then who created it? And to whose advantage does Whiteness continue to work for and serve in the present?

Continue Reading

The officers who killed Freddie Gray have finally been formally charged with murder and manslaughter.

Three of the six officers are African-American. The most serious charges have been leveled against Caesar Goodson. He too is African-American.

The White Right, Fox News, and other Right-wing propaganda outlets are obsessing over the fact that three of the Baltimore police who have been charged with killing Freddie Gray are African-American. This obsession is part of the same paraphilia that has the White Right deflecting the role that racism and classism played in the killing of Freddie Gray because Baltimore is a city whose political leaders are African-American.

Because of how the White Right and movement conservatives are simplistic binary thinkers who live in an alternate reality where white people are victims of "racism", global warming is not real, Obama is a "Socialist", cutting taxes for the rich produces economic growth for the rest of society, Christians are "under siege" in America, and other conspiranoid delusions, they possess a pronounced inability to understand nuance or context.

Thus, movement conservatives and the White Right, to the degree they can be separated from one another, are unable to practice systems level thinking and analysis: concepts such as "institutional power" are lost on them.

Individuals navigate their relationship(s) with systems of power. Cultural institutions such as the police have a set of rules and norms that govern how they socialize their members. Those learned values influence how the police relate to those outside of their subculture.

The United States is a racist society. By implication, its dominant political, social, economic, and other cultural institutions will to varying degrees reflect those norms.

The origins of America's police are found in the slave patrol.

America's police have continued in that tradition by acting as agents of social control who harass and discriminate against black and brown Americans.

African-Americans and other people of color who join America's police departments are not immune or outside of that subculture's norms and values. Because they are the Other in a socio-cultural institution that has historically worked to oppress non-whites (and the poor, as well as the outgroup, more generally) black cops may actually have to perform those roles in a more exaggerated and gross way in order to prove their bonafides.

If White Supremacy and Whiteness were a religion or a cult (and they do share some of those traits) black American cops would most likely be the new converts, the overzealous, the great true believers, the most devout who are desperate to show their allegiance to the faith.

Human history is replete with examples of how members of an oppressed or marginalized group laid down with Power for personal gain, to make life easier for themselves, or other selfish reasons.

The black Baltimore cops who have been charged with murdering Freddie Gray can trace their political and social lineage back to the "slave drivers" of chattel slavery in the West:

The difference between the overseer and the DRIVER was simple: drivers were slaves themselves. A driver might be convinced by a master to manage the slaves for better privileges. Drivers were usually hated by the rest of the slaves. These feelings often led to violence.
The black slave driver had a specialized role:
The position of a slave driver was very rare. Slave drivers were enslaved black men that directed the daily work of the slaves. They held the responsibility of overseeing the work of their fellow slaves as well as enforcing punishments for misbehaving. It is estimated that only 1 in 260 slaves was a driver. Plantations with fewer than 100 slaves rarely ever had a slave driver.
The black slave driver's job was precarious:
Drivers were another story. They were slaves appointed by masters to positions of authority on the plantation. Where masters were resident, black drivers often replaced overseers. On larger plantations, especially in the Lower South, black drivers worked under the supervision of white overseers. The drivers' jobs were manifold, but they were expected above all to maintain discipline in the fields and order in the quarters.

Like overseers, drivers were subjected to competing pressures that demanded both technical skill and a strong measure of self-confidence. But the pressures on drivers were different in important ways. Drivers were a part of the slave community, but they were especially favored by the master. To maintain the goodwill of the master without losing the respect of one's fellow slaves was no small achievement. Yet the evidence suggests that the drivers often succeeded where the overseers failed. They were chosen for their intelligence and abilities; they often understood how to manage a plantation more effectively than the overseers. Accordingly, drivers often held their positions for decades. The masters came to rely on the drivers for their competence; the slaves came to expect the drivers to moderate some of the harshness of the regime.

Black slave drivers could also have a great amount of power over a given plantation. Some white plantation owners would even allow their black drivers to manage and run the day-to-day operation of the plantation in their absence.

Because black drivers existed in a type of liminal space between the white masters and their fellow slaves, many black drivers could be especially violent and cruel--even by the standards of the horrific slave plantation labor system--in the conduct of their duties.

In the following section from a correspondence between George Skipwith, a black driver, and John Hopewell Cocke, his white owner, Skipwith details the whipping he gave to an "impudent" slave:

when I come to them at twelve o clocke, they had cut me nineteen roes, and it would not take them more than ten minits to cut one roe as Shedrack was the ruler among them, I spoke these words to him. you do not intend to cut these oats untill I whip every one of you. Shedrack did not say any thing to me, but Robert spoke these words saying that he knoed when he worked. I told him to shut his lips and if he spoke another worde I would whip him right of[f] but he spoke again the second time saying that he was not afraid of being whiped by no man. I then gave him a cut with the whip. he then flong down his cradle, and made a oath and said that he had as live die as to live and he said that he did not intend to stay here. he then tried to take the whip out of my hand, but I caught him fast by the collar and holed him. I then told the other boys to stripe him and they don so I then whiped untell I thought that he was pretty could but I was desieved for as soon as I leave him and went to the hoe hands, he come of to the house to our preacher15 and his family becaus he knoed that they would protect him in his Rascality for he had herd that they had said that they were worked to death, and that they were lowed no more chance for liveing than if they were dogs or hogs...

Cocke would eventual relieve Skipwith of his responsibilities as a slave driver because of the latter's "radical depravity", selling Skipwith and his family "down the river" to Mississippi.

The reaction by the White Right and their media to the killing of Freddie Gray by three black police officers has provided an interesting insight into their political worldview and cognitive schema.

Racism and conservatism are merged in the Age of Obama and the post civil rights era. Thus, anti-black animus colors the political decision-making and thinking of movement conservatives.

Will hostility to black people more generally trump their loyalty and authoritarian predisposition to police and police authority?

Or will anti-black animus be focused on Freddie Gray and the black young people who participated in the Baltimore uprising because White America's fantasies and fixation on "race riots" and "black crime" have such a powerful hold on the White racial imagination?

Consequently, the black cops who killed Freddie Gray will be valorized alongside their white thug compatriots by the White Right and Republicans because this freakish interracial union of police violence is somehow "proof" for white conservatives (and other colorblind racists) that white supremacy no longer exists in the post civil rights era.

America's much discussed and tired "national conversation" on race has been conducted at a first grade level for most of the post civil rights era. There is still some hope--however weak--that the election (twice) of Barack Obama, changing demographics, globalization, and the interracial coalition of young people who are mobilizing against police thuggery and the Culture of Cruelty, will elevate America's moribund and tedious "national conversation" on race to the third or fourth grade level.

Movement conservatives and the White Right are still stuck in remedial classes on matters of justice, the colorline, and the Common Good: if American conservatives do not improve their performance they will be flunked out of school and sent to find other means of educating themselves.

Generational replacement offers some hope for progress. Unfortunately, that solution is also proving to be a tenuous one.


Baltimore’s young people responded to the police theft of Freddie Gray’s life with protests that eventually grew into a spasm of violence. While the direct motivator, Gray’s death is not the only direct cause of the uprising. The protests and violent exhalations by Baltimore’s black youth (and others) are the result of a long pattern of police abuse, harassment and violence toward that city’s African-American community in the context of systemic class inequality, custodial citizenship and mass incarceration.

The causes of black urban unrest in the United States are not “unknown unknowns.” Rather, they were described in great and compelling detail by the 1968 Kerner Commission, which was tasked by President Johnson with determining the causes of the urban riots during the 1960s.

The reasons young people in Baltimore and other parts of the United States have been moved to street protests in response to police violence are only mysteries to those American policymakers and members of the public who choose to live in a state of denial.

(White) America is a country with a limited historical perspective and a very short-term memory. As Gore Vidal famously said, “We live here in the United States of Amnesia. No one remembers anything before Monday morning. Everything is a blank. They have no history.”

Thus, the American people are robbed of any meaningful social or historical context for the police abuse in Baltimore, Ferguson, and the many other locales where police thuggery and state violence are routinely visited upon black and brown Americans, as well as the poor and the mentally ill, with relative impunity.

White riots and pogroms against Black Americans are a fixture of American history. But the corporate news media enables many white Americans’ intentional forgetting and mass amnesia.

Here, the uprising and righteous anger of black young people in Baltimore (and elsewhere) is almost by default described as a riot. Deeper questions about class inequality and racism are removed from the dominant media frame and replaced by tired, trite and profoundly unsophisticated claims that the uprising in Baltimore was caused by absent black fathers, broken homes and an urban culture of poverty and violence. In everything but name, Baltimore’s black youth have been branded by the news media and American opinion leaders as feral street urchins: this is the language of racialization and dehumanization.

Many Americans in the news media and elsewhere are reluctant to acknowledge how the angry and violent response by Baltimore’s young people against the illegitimate, cruel and repeated acts of police brutality and killings in their community could be logical and wholly reasonable—and solidly within the American political tradition.

The White Racial Frame—a system of belief that legitimizes and normalizes white dominance and privilege in North American society—has produced the language of “riots,” “black pathology,” “thugs,” and “criminals” that is commonly used to describe the Baltimore uprising. The White Racial Frame does the work of white supremacy and helps to maintain political, social and economic systems of white privilege and unearned advantages. The White Racial Frame also distorts historical fact by erasing America’s long tradition of white-on-black violence across the colorline.

The language of “riots” to describe “urban unrest” as something unique to black Americans is a relatively recent phenomenon, one that can be traced back to iconic images of burning cities in the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination and the tumult of the 1960s. But the use of phrases such as “riot” or “mob” can also be seen in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries to legitimize mass white racial violence against black Americans during the era of Jim and Jane Crow. Newspapers such as the New York Times featured headlines such as “Mobs of Blacks Retaliate for Riots”; “Negro Mob Terrorizing the Citizens of Jacksonville”; “Negro Mob in South Shouts for Lynching”; and “Negro Mob Killed Sheriff.”

The racist news narrative continues in the present, where the urban uprising against police violence and brutality in Baltimore has been described by right-wing propaganda sites such as the Drudge Report and other media outlets as a “race war” and/or “anti-white” violence.

In fact, in the United States, “rioting” and “race wars” against people of color are almost exclusively the domain of white Americans.

During the 1863 New York City draft riots, white people ran amok, killing black Americans and destroying the African-American community’s churches, orphanages, businesses and schools.

In 1921, over a 24-hour time period, whites destroyed the prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. White rioters used machine guns and dropped bombs (in what may be one of the first recorded uses of a plane for that purpose) on the black community. Conservative estimates suggest that at least several hundred black people were killed.

In East Saint Louis, whites engaged in a pogrom against the black community. Like Chicago, this was part of the “Red Summers” in which whites attempted to reassert their control and dominance over the black community in the aftermath of World War I.

Scholars such as James Loewen estimate that as many as 3,000 black communities were “ethnically cleansed” by white violence and other means of intimidation

Historian Gregory Downs has suggested that as many as 50,000 black Americans were killed by white racial terrorism in the 30 years following the end of the American Civil War. This total may not even include at least 4,000 blacks who were victims of lynchings by whites across the South and other parts of the United States.

As the late Joel Olsen described in The Abolition of White Democracy, white riots against black Americans and other people of color were a way of creating a sense of communal identity across lines of class and ethnicity. Thus, “whiteness” was nurtured and in many ways created by white violence against non-whites generally, and African Americans in particular.

White riots and other types of mass violence against the black community enriched white Americans through land theft, the destruction of black businesses and as a way of enforcing a regime of racial terrorism that economically and politically oppressed the black community in such as a way as to directly (and indirectly) fill white America’s coffers.

By most empirical measures (land taken, people killed and number of occurrences—there were 26 white-on-black race riots during the year 1919 alone) white Americans are the country’s most successful, adept and skilled rioters. White America is an expert on rioting and race wars; black America is a neophyte amateur with little to no experience in such matters by comparison.

Nevertheless, the corporate news media has recycled Ronald Reagan’s and the Republican Party’s language of “law and order” and “black pathology,” and obsess over images of black young people “rioting” against the Baltimore police. Many in the corporate news media will also emphasize what they believe is wrong with the “black family,” “black culture,” and the black community’s supposed inability to “control” young black people in the aftermath of the Baltimore uprising.

The right-wing media and its politicians will heavily emphasize this narrative. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told his viewers that:

“The facts then dictate that racial persecution really isn’t the problem in Baltimore. Something else is in play. And that something else is personal behavior…These idiotic thugs who are rioting and looting are hurting their own people, and because the entire world sees pictures of blacks rampaging, all African Americans are affected…It is long past time for police agencies in America to have a no tolerance policy towards brutality on the part of officers…But it is also long past time for African-American communities across America to begin to police themselves.”
Republican 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul suggested that the Baltimore uprising was caused by absent black fathers:
“The thing is that really there’s so many things we can talk about, it’s something we talk about not in the immediate aftermath but over time: the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code in our society. And this isn’t just a racial thing, it goes across racial boundaries, but we do have problems in our country.”
Paul’s and O’Reilly’s comments are part of what is known as the Southern strategy, which was created by the Republican Party in the aftermath of the civil rights movement with the goal of using white racial resentment and anti-black and brown bias to win over white working- and middle-class voters.

However, much more important questions will not be asked by pundits and politicians.

How are America’s police pathological in their violence, racism and brutal killings of black people?

Are America’s police deranged in how they imagine unarmed black and brown people as some type of imminent threat to be dispatched with due haste and extreme prejudice?

Is America’s police culture sick and pathological in how citizens have been tortured to death, sexually assaulted and otherwise violated and abused by police officers?

If there are only a few bad apples in America’s police departments, why don’t the good cops throw them out en masse?

Are America’s police more like a street gang than public servants?

It is easy for the mainstream news media to opine and lecture about “pathological” black communities that are supposedly plagued by “bad culture.” It is far more difficult to talk about America’s broken police and its culture of violence and disrespect toward non-whites and poor people that led to the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and so many other black men and women across the United States of America.


Freddie Gray was killed by Baltimore's police. Baltimore's ghetto youthocracy responded with protests and an exhalation of random street violence. The killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who was a victim of racial profiling and harassment by police, is the proximate cause of Baltimore's "riot".

The deeper and more substantive causes of Baltimore's violent spasm (and Ferguson and other sites as well) are long simmering grievances and righteous anger at an American police establishment that is racist towards black Americans, and a society where its supposed "meritocracy" is broken by the colorline and class inequality.

The United States may have a black man who happens to be President; racial equality, justice, and the radically democratic transformative possibilities that Obama symbolized seven years ago have not been translated into substantive improvements in the life chances for people of color more generally, or the black and brown poor in particular.

There is a ritual that accompanies these moments of protest by black Americans, and the wholly predictable urban unrest that follows the repeated killings of unarmed black people by police.

The high priests of public opinion take to the TV, radio, and Internet and summon the memory of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn black folks who are "rioting", for the latter are violating the sacred covenant of "non-violence" that King, as one of America's greatest leaders and martyrs, supposedly died for.

The man and woman on the street participate in this act of American civil religion as well. They mutter some basic understanding of Dr. King's dream, spittle accompanying a phrase about the Civil Rights Movement, as they shake their heads in consternation at the violent protests in Baltimore and elsewhere.

The high priests of public opinion on the dais, and those who sit in the pews of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as civil religion, are engaged in futile acts of conjuring. They are trying to channel a weak and flattened memory of a man, one that has been reduced to selling fast food in January and February, made into an onerous statue at Washington's mall, and reduced to a paragraph that is ripped from a towering speech.

If the legacy of the real Dr. King--his radical politics, vision, and challenging words and deeds for an America sick with white supremacy, class inequality, war mongering, and hatred for the poor--was properly channeled, it would deafen the chattering classes and broad swaths of the American public.

The real Dr. King is akin to the Old Ones or the Elder Gods. They and he are not to be summoned without care, for reasons disingenuous, or to help with a fool's errand.

The impotent summoning of Dr. King in a time of crisis (with its righteous, justifiable, protest and rage against police thuggery, and a cruel State that cares more about protecting property and its out of control racist police, than in justice for black and brown Americans and the poor) is enabled by a flat and weak understanding of the Black Freedom Struggle and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in it.

The Civil Rights Movement contained multiple elements with often conflicting interests and strategies for success. Non-violence was not an empty phrase: it existed and found power in relation to those who wanted a more robust, direct, and if necessary, armed response to white supremacy and anti-black hatred. The Civil Rights Movement was able to use the media in the context of the Cold War, and white elites' anxieties about perception management abroad in an era of Jim and Jane Crow, to win its incremental gains.

Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been canonized as an American saint. At the time of his assassination and martyrdom, King was one of America's most hated and despised public figures.

In these times of troubles it is easy and intellectually lazy for people to mouth-breath some selection selectively misquoted and misappropriated from the I Have a Dream speech, as opposed to meditating on King's analysis of systemic power and inequality as embodied by his observation that "a riot is the language of the unheard".

King elaborated on the relationship of urban disorder to the struggle for full human rights and dignity for black American in his "The Other America" speech where he stated that:

I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
If one persists in channeling Dr. King in these conversations about the urban unrest, "rioting", and exhalations by the ghetto youthocracy (and others) in Baltimore and elsewhere across the United States in response to police thuggery, it should be done with great care.

Black Americans have a special relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. He is "ours". As such, the black community has an obligation to ensure that his memory, legacy, and wisdom are not misappropriated. Unfortunately, the black chattering classes and elites are more often than not agents and enablers of a weakened vision of King's vision as political expediency and neoliberal governmentality pay great lucre to their agents.

Since before the Founding, White America has largely been on the wrong side of history regarding matters of race and justice. Because of this fact, all white Americans should exercise great care when trying to summon Dr. Martin Luther King's memory as a means of subverting, lecturing to, or deflecting the justice claims (and anger) of Black Americans.

Both white conservatives and white liberals should abide by such a rule.

This is especially true for white conservatives in the Age of Obama, a moment when conservatism and racism are fused together by the White Right in the form of a Republican Party that is the United States' leading white supremacist organization.

As such, the Republican Party embraces herrenvolk politics, is working to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, further criminalize the poor, and has actively worked to undermine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a better America.

If our white brothers and sisters are not willing to do the necessary work to understand and grapple with the radical Dr. King, and his role as one of the "founding fathers" of the new America that was made after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, then it is best they not summon him.

Perhaps, as White America tries to understand the anger, upset, and pain of black Americans in an age of surveillance, police brutality, cruelty, class inequality, and mass incarceration, it would be an easier task from them to read some poetry by Yeats or Eliot.

For example, as black folks are killed on video by America's police and the latter usually go free because of the white racial paranoiac gaze, the specter of black death (and its inherent threat to black folks' full humanity) is captured by the inevitability and malaise of Eliot's The Wasteland:

The barges wash
Drifting logs
Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs

Yeats' The Stolen Child is also an appropriate theme for black life in an age of mass incarceration and police violence with its refrain "for the world is more full of weeping than you can understand".

Perhaps it would be best if most Americans simply took Dr. King out of their mouths, defaulting to different wisdom as offered by other people, for they are not really interested in understanding the true power of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s radical vision and truth-telling about white supremacy and class inequality in America?

Ultimately, "non-violence" robbed of meaning and context is just an empty incantation for America's civil religion of "racial equality".


Michael Dyson and Cornel West are involved in a very public and ugly feud.

Dyson attempted to "ether" West in an almost 10,000 word essay written for The New Republic called "The Ghost of Cornel West".

Dave Zirin, sports writer, intellectual, and all around smart guy at The Nation offered up the following observation about Dyson versus West in his essay "Cornel West Is Not Mike Tyson":

As a sportswriter I am very sensitive to the use and misuse of boxing metaphors. Few analogies are either more powerful or more universally understood than comparing a public figure to an iconic fighter. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, in a panoramic, painfully personal, deeply researched 10,000-word excoriation of Dr. Cornel West, published in The New Republic, has compared the 61-year-old professor to Mike Tyson. He describes West as someone who once “tore through opponents with startling menace and ferocity,” but who has since devolved into a “faint echo of himself,” an ear-biting sideshow, more interested in celebrity than serious academic and political work.

With all respect to Dyson, who wrote the intro to my book Game Over and has been a friend to me on numerous occasions, this is in my view the wrong choice of championship pugilists. West is not Mike Tyson: he’s Muhammad Ali.

Not the Muhammad Ali of ESPN hagiographies or Hollywood films starring Will Smith. But the real Muhammad Ali: effortlessly provocative, undeniably narcissistic, and unquestionably brilliant.

The deeply hurtful quotes that West has aimed at Dyson (he has “prostituted himself intellectually”) and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry (“she is a liar and a fraud”) are 21st-century iterations of Ali’s regrettable, and for many unforgivable, questioning of the blackness of the great Joe Frazier, comparing the proud fighter to an ugly gorilla, all in the name of hyping up fights and throwing Frazier off of his game.

[And if a person really wants to understand the meta game between West and Dyson they need to read Political Scientist Dr. Adolph Reed Jr.'s classic article "What are the Drums Saying Booker?"]

I largely agree with Zirin's take on the fracas. However, he is too generous in his analysis of the organic nature of the dispute. Nevertheless, Dave Zirin also has a large piece of the puzzle mostly figured out.

Michael Dyson versus Cornel West is more like professional wrestling than it is boxing.

I offer some additional connective tissue for Zirin's great essay.

Muhammad Ali was a huge fan of professional wrestling and credits Gorgeous George as a having had a great influence on his style, demeanor, and ability to work an audience:

Gorgeous George would shout, bulge his eyes and threaten to annihilate his ''enemy." Some of his opponents feared George's tough talk outside the ring far more than his technique inside it. In short order, the anger aimed at him made him one of wrestling's - and television's - biggest attractions. And he cried all the way to the bank.

His act lasted so long that a little-known boxer named Cassius Marcellus Clay, who won the 1960 light heavyweight championship in the Rome Olympics, took careful note of George's success.

"Soon after I turned pro," Cassius mused, "I discovered that even though I won the Olympic title, I wasn't making any money. I was the only champion that didn't have no jack jangling in his jeans. So I studied Gorgeous George and began doing his act better than he did it.

"Before I became champ, I used to go in the ring and fight and when I went to the dressing room, people didn't pay much attention to me," Ali recalled years later. "One night, I was watching Gorgeous George on TV. He was jumping around making a lot of noise and threatening his opponents and I said to myself, 'this guy's on to something.' I think I'll put some of that in my act."

Boxing fans plunked down their hard-earned cash to see Ali get knocked out. But alas, he had become as fine a boxer as he was a showman, and routinely whipped his opponents - "as if I was their daddy," he enjoyed saying.

He also told reporters he probably owed Gorgeous George a lot of money: "Wasn't for him, nobody would have heard of me," Ali insisted."I didn't use no perfume or high heels, but I became real boisterous and the fans began paying attention to me.

They hated my poetry and came to see if I would knock out my opponents in the round I'd predict.

Fans would spend their money and rush to my fights, hoping to see me get my head whupped."

I have no doubt that the animus between West and Dyson is real. But, there is more money to be made in the build up, climax, and then blow off match, than there is in Dyson and West being compadres and brothers in arms forever.

As in other areas of life, we and they make up to break up.

For example, West, Dyson, and Smiley made a ton of money on their various tours during the Age of Obama and the twilight years of Bush II.

What better way is there to make money and get attention, i.e. return to relevance in popular culture and among the more literate audiences for the chattering classes, than to have a feud between former "brothers?"

Emotional issues between talented competitors plus good creative equals cash in professional wrestling.

It is no different in the world of public intellectuals.

West and Dyson will feud today. This will put a butt every 18 inches in a seat. West and Dyson will reconcile and sell it as a story about two lions and titans in the Black Prophetic Tradition who love justice and "The People" so much that they had to duel in order to place their ideas in a fiery crucible as a way of reducing their brilliance down to its essence.

Public jawing is West's and Dyson's way of applying black intellectual power to Plato's Theory of the Forms.

If Dick Gregory is not available to referee the series of matches between Michael Dyson and Cornel West, I am more than willing to do it for a very agreeable rate of payment.


We should never forget that America is a house built on the bodies of black and brown people. They are also the kindling for the fire that fueled the American melting pot.

The State has a monopoly on violence and force. The police are the day-to-day arm of the State. For black Americans, and the poor and working classes more generally, the police are part of a larger societal apparatus that is dedicated to creating a sense of "custodial citizenship". Police do not treat white middle class and rich people the same way that they treat black and brown people of any class background. This is by design. America's police exist to enforce a hierarchical arrangement of class and racial power.

Such a dynamic cultivates a type of delusional and willful ignorance for White America, one that is so powerful that even video recorded examples of police thuggery against black people (and others) can be explained away by white racial paranoiac thinking.

In all, because "Officer Friendly" is friendly to them, too many white folks incorrectly assume that Officer Friendly is not an authoritarian racist bully in his or her interactions with other people.

Hegemonic power is omnipresent. It does not work only by punishing those who transgress, but also by giving rewards to those who obey. Power creates legitimacy through schools, religion, the media, and more general and vague cultural norms that together create a sense of what is "normal".

Police legitimacy and authority in the United States has been increasingly exposed as corrupt and not deserved by the video-recorded murders of unarmed black men at the hands of the police, as well as other examples where police have killed and abused the mentally ill, the poor and homeless, people who were subdued and not a threat, and most notably engaged in a spectacular riot against the people of Ferguson, Missouri.

Thus, there exists a need to create a counter-narrative in order to subvert the justice claims of those who seek police reform. America's "approved public discourse" and "acceptable opinion" will retreat toa defensive bulwark of cultural myths about "heroic police" who have a "hard and difficult job" as cover for police thuggery and brutality. To counter the visual record of white on black police violence, the media will discover and highlight video-recorded examples of police behaving in a "heroic" and "noble" manner.

New Richmond, Ohio police officer Jesse Kidder has provided one such moment. As reported by CNN, he was "attacked" by a "suspect" who was attempting "suicide by cop".

CNN details how:

Police shootings stoke controversy as the public dissects the details of each incident and decides whether the use of force was unwarranted or if the officer acted in self-defense in the face of a truly dangerous criminal.

This isn't one of those cases.

On Thursday, Officer Jesse Kidder could have opened fire on a man in New Richmond, Ohio, and likely would never have heard a breath of the protest that followed the shootings of Eric Harris and Walter Scott.

What might have been a "suicide by cop" ended in the suspect's arrest and booking, thanks to what Kidder's colleagues say was his "great restraint."

If there were a checklist for when it's OK to shoot a suspect, Kidder could have ticked most of the boxes.

The story continues:
The officer's body camera -- which Kidder's family bought for him after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri -- captured the suspect rushing toward Kidder, unfazed by the officer's handgun. Dispatchers had told Kidder the suspect might have a gun under his car seat and might attempt to commit "suicide by cop," WLWT reported.

"I jumped out, and he's running toward me. I had my firearm already drawn on him, and I tell him to put his hands up in the air, and he was screaming, 'Shoot me! Shoot me!'" Kidder said.

Kidder backs away from the suspect, who puts one hand in his jacket pocket, then another. Still, the officer declines to pull the trigger.

"My eyes are watching that hand right now, nothing else," Kidder said.

Kidder yells, "Get your hands out of your pocket now!"

The suspect continues to advance, walking swiftly, hands still obscured.

"I was trying to open a dialogue with him. 'I don't want to shoot you; just get on the ground.' But he wasn't having it. He kept repeating, 'Shoot me!' At one point, he said, 'Shoot me, or I'll shoot you,'" the officer said.

Kidder keeps his composure, even when the suspect charges to within a few feet, forcing Kidder to tumble backward to the ground, his upended feet coming into the body camera's view.

Because of a body camera, Officer Jesse Kidder was also able to provide video of the event.

Of course, the essential question is not asked by CNN's story on Officer Kidder's decision to not shoot the suspect. What if the man "attacking" Kidder was black and not white? Would Officer Kidder had exercised as much restraint?

Childish logic suggests that a video-recording of one "good" and "exceptional" cop trumps the many video-recorded murders and abuse of black and brown people by America's police. It exists in the same intellectually and morally empty conceptual universe as "both sides do it!" and "we need to consider both sides of the argument." Such claims are perfect propaganda for the simple minded and binary thinkers.

Empirical research has repeatedly demonstrated that police are more likely to use lethal force against black men, are primed on a subconscious level to shoot unarmed black people faster than they are white people, and are part of a "justice" system that practices racial bias on almost every level in its treatment of African-Americans.

Kidder exercised admirable and amazing restraint in his decision to not shoot a human being who was attempting "suicide by cop". The problem is not Officer Jesse Kidder's good character. Rather, how will Kidder's video-recorded decision to not kill a human being, when he had the legal power to do so, be located relative to a broader narrative and public discourse about American police violence and abuse?

As America's police reaffirm their legitimacy, they will be aided by a Right-wing media, petite authoritarians, cop fetishists, and other servants of Power who are desperate to find the "Good German" or the "Kind Slave Owner" in the form of "Officer Friendly".

There is a complication in this project. Critical thinkers and the enlightened immediately know that the search for such cultural figures actually highlights how barbarism and foul treatment are the norm and not exceptions to the rule.


My dear friend Bill the Lizard, he who is a fellow Star Wars aficionado and occasional conversation partner on The Chauncey DeVega Show, called me yesterday.

He explained that "I had a dream that you were shot by the police like Walter Scott in that horrible video".

Dreams do often portend the future. As is evident by my non-poltergeist act of answering the telephone, it would seem that I am okay.

Bill the Lizard also sent me a picture of "Herbert the Pervert" to confirm my safety. Friends of many years develop their own language with which to communicate with one another. I will leave the origins of our Herbert the Pervert inside joke suitably unstated.

He and I both agreed that viewing killed by cop videos such as those featuring Walter Scott, Eric Harris, and Eric Garner have a negative impact on one's soul and psyche.

But, this conclusion does not explain why the video-recorded images of black Americans being shot, killed, and otherwise abused by the police are captivating to (what would seem to be) so many in the global viewing public.

The corporate news media shows those images of horrific and spectacular violence against the black body because they garner ratings. Ratings equal cash.

But again, why would someone who is not paid or otherwise materially compensated view such a thing?

Writing at Medium, Jade Davis offers the following insight:

Black men being the first to die in horror movies, and being lined up for execution on death row is the norm — but that is for fun, or behind closed doors. These killings of regular black men, however — in public, dying on camera and reproduced on the Internet — speaks to the same kind of forbidden desire that Girls Gone Wild tapped into. The ability to easily capture and distribute video of overly horny co-eds out to have a good time fed the desires of overly horny people who wanted to experience the thrill of barely legal girls submitting to the lens.

Now, instead of barely legal porn, these actual snuff films, not like those staged versions from the 1970s, are the forbidden jouissance of the moment. The black man’s death is repeated, reproduced, shared, and celebrated in a macabre way specific to the snuff genre. These films and activities have always existed, but in the past people didn’t consume them so publicly, or so proudly outside of public executions and lynchings.

She continues:
It might seem that the difference between these snuff films and Girls Gone Wild is that people paid cash to watch the women perform for them. But that is merely a sign of the times. The Internet eventually won when the audience decided to pay with clicks instead of cash: The places that brought Girls Gone Wild to an end still have age disclaimers for mature content, and can be blocked by enabling parental controls.

But, when the most explicit imagery of the violence enacted against black bodies can be at the top of The New York Times and the Daily Mail, it says that these are the images that sell in a world where clicks equal cash, and there’s no warning necessary.

This is content everyone should see! Don’t miss this amazing new footage of a black man dying. Warning, graphic content, but the screen capture really sells the tale. The distribution channel isn’t the same as those videos of gyrating youngsters, but it is distributed and monetized just the same.

It is not for me to say, but I believe that the late great Stuart Hall would likely be in agreement with Davis's analysis. On matters of race, representation, and semiotics I can think of no higher complement to give.

Are the video-recorded killings of black men by police and their allies the next iteration of snuff films?

A type of fantasy wish fulfillment for some of the most deranged and racist in the audience (example: those white people who donated money to Darren Wilson's "defense" fund) while also simultaneously serving as a non-therapeutic exterior projection of the fears and worries that black Americans carry within themselves about police violence and America's history of committing extra-judicial murder against them?

In a society where the lie of "reality television" is believed to be real by the mass public, the carceral society (with all of its anti-black violence) is popularized by shows such as Cops, The First 48, and Lockup, and the Culture of Cruelty extends along the colorline, the killings of unarmed black people by America's police may simply be the dystopian near future vision offered by the 1980's classic movie The Running Man made real.

Technology is a way for white supremacist racial ideologies to be circulated.

Lynching photographs were one of America's most popular forms of mass culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, in the 21st and late 20th centuries, digital media circulates images of violence against the black body by America's police to a global super public.

Are you not entertained?


Eric Harris was killed by a rich man who donated equipment to the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department so that he could enjoy some live action role-playing as a cop.

The Daily Beast offers the following details:

The deputy wasn’t an active member of the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which was responsible for the bungled sweep. But Bates has donated thousands in gifts to the office since 2008, the Tulsa World reported.

He is one of many “wealthy people in the reserve program,” which includes 130 volunteer deputies, Maj. Shannon Clark of the sheriff’s office said.

“Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all,” he added.

Bates’ contributions include vehicles, firearms and stun guns, Clark said. The shooting was recorded via sunglasses cameras worn by police—items that Bates may have purchases himself.

His previous law enforcement credentials include a stint as a Tulsa police officer from 1964 to 1965.

Clark said Bates was an “advanced reserve” and his duties included “anything a full-time deputy can do.”

During this particular encounter, however, Bates would normally be in a support role that includes “keeping notes, doing counter-surveillance, things like that,” Clark told the Tulsa World.

The State has a monopoly on legal murder. And as is typical in a corporate democracy where the public commons is for sale, and Austerity, Neoliberalism, and the Culture of Cruelty, are a conjoined beast, anything and everything can be purchased.

The role of public servant in the guise of a police officer is also for sale to adult cop obsessives who possess immature dreams of wearing a uniform and bullying the public.

Yes, race and the colorline are central to the repeated murders of unarmed black people (and other people of color, the poor, and the mentally ill) by America's police. But, the devaluing of black life exists within a society where basic notions of The Public, as well as Public Responsibility and Ownership, are under assault by The 1 Percent.

As a commenter pointed out at The Daily Beast, what other jobs with life and death responsibilities are up for auction to the highest bidder? Doctors? Air traffic controllers? Firefighters? Generals? Elected officials?

[I think we know the answer for the latter.]

Eric Harris is dead because the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department, in a desire to get more toys for its officers to play with, sold its professionalism and public reputation to the highest bidder.

If Tulsa's police department are doing to allow live action role-players their chance of getting a cheap thrill--as they are likely physically aroused by wearing a cop's uniform, carrying a gun, and being able to turn on a siren--perhaps they should follow the rules that cons such as Wizard and C2E2 use at their events:

Prop weapons will be allowed providing they are composed of cardboard, foam, wood or other light materials. Prop firearms are allowed only if they cannot be mistaken for real weapons. The barrel of all prop firearms must be covered with brightly-colored caps. Prop bows will be allowed providing all arrows have soft tips.

Basically, don't be an idiot.

Hopefully, an enterprising journalist will investigate how common it is for rich people to be able to role-play as police officers--the latter with the power of life and death over the public.

If any good comes out of the unnecessary death of Mr. Eric Harris, perhaps it will be a public outing of such irresponsible programs and ensuring that no other people are killed by pay to play incompetent wannabe cops like Bob Bates.


If you have not yet watched MSNBC's interview with Feidin Santana, the gentleman who recorded the killing of Walter Scott by the thug cop Michael Slager, I encourage you to do so.

A hero is someone who puts themselves at great personal risk, does not have specific training for the task, and is not paid to do so.

Mr. Santana is a hero.

As clearly demonstrated by their centuries-long habit of killing unarmed and/or surrendered black and brown people, America's police are not heroes. Some of them may occasionally act in a brave way; but, not all brave acts are heroic.

The news media has made the murder of Michael Scott into a spectacle. The video of Scott's murder is a 21st century type of lynching photograph and postcard. Every time the video is shown, the mental, physical, and emotional health of Black America is assaulted. This is psychic warfare and terrorism.

Just as the killer cop Darren Wilson casually stood over Michael Brown's dead body in the street, Michael Slager appears to show no panic or upset after he guns down Walter Scott.

Soldiers will often have a breakdown or show other signs of visible emotional distress after they kill another human being in battle.

These police officers are calm, cool, collected, and unmoved.

Some questions.

I wonder, was Slager's calm and detached behavior a reflection of his police training and cultural conditioning regarding the use of force against black people?

Are Slager and other cops who kill in a similar manner sociopathic?

Has Michael Slager killed someone before and successfully covered it up, thus his slaying of Walter Scott is an old habit?

The mainstream corporate media will not ask those important questions. It is time that the American people force this issue, as the colorline is not just about justice for people of color, but a life and death matter for the Common Good.


Another unarmed black man has been shot dead by a white police officer.

The video can be watched here. I will not be posting or otherwise sharing it online.

I do not want to contribute to the online necropolis of black bodies shot dead by cop and/or white identified vigilantes.

I am also finding it difficult to convey my exhaustion with once again having to write about how another unarmed black man has been killed by the police. My hand is moved by a commitment to tell the truth; writing is a small act compared to those who actually suffer the slings and arrows of racist white violence by America's police.

As I have written about and discussed many times in these years of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown, white privilege is the ability to twist and distort reality in the service of the bizarre and self-serving world that the White Gaze conjures forth for the psychological, material, and political benefits of its owners.

In the service to those delusions, White Racist Paranoiac Thinking invents a scenario that justifies the killing of black and brown people (and the homeless, poor, mentally ill, and other "disposable" human beings) by the police and their allies.

Eric Garner screamed "I can't breathe" as the police murdered him. White lynch mobs portrayed themselves as honorable men who were doing unpleasant work in defense of white women's and white civilization's honor and security as they burned alive and dismembered the African-American "imps of the inferno", the monster in the form of a man known as "the black beast rapist".

Walter Scott was stopped for a traffic violation. In fear for his life, Walter Scott ran away from a white South Carolina police officer named Michael Slager.

Slager then shot and killed Walter Scott.

Michael Slager then lied as he used the standard script:

The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, had said he feared for his life because the man took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man — Walter L. Scott, 50 — fled.

The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.

Fortunately, Slager's lies were exposed by a video recording of the event.

He has now been charged with murder.

White racist paranoiacs will invert and twist reality in their defense of Michael Slager.

Scott was somehow threatening Slager.

Scott was trying to grab the weapon of Slager.

"We don't know what happened before the 'incident' occurred!"

"Remember Darren Wilson!" as though the latter was some type of innocent child and victim as he did the work of Ferguson, Missouri's Jim and Jane Crow-like police department.

"Scott was 'wanted for a 'family court warrant'! He is a horrible father, a criminal, why make him a victim when Officer Slager is the real hero!"

I have learned to accept that I, a black man, embody and channel a type of monstrous black masculinity as viewed through the White Gaze.

But even we monsters, the Garners, the child Tamir, the Crawfords, and now Mr. Walter Scott deserve a whee bit of mercy and benefit of the doubt before we are put down by the police.

If hunting man is the greatest of sports, I would hope, that for lack of a better word or turn of phrase, that white cops who choose to kill or otherwise abuse unarmed black people, would be a bit more "sporting" in their ways.

Ultimately, we, the black Frankensteins of the world, need to be a bit more cautious as we go about our business, playing with little white children as they pick flowers by the lake.

I am a man. I am a black man. I am a human being. I am an American citizen. I am not a monster. When will the police accept and respect that fact?

I know it is a question with a clear answer.

Yet, I still channel hope by asking it.

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