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MrWe MUST Understand

By Roy Douglas Malonson, Chairman

Witnessing the recent events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we seriously must ask ourselves the question: Has anything really changed in America for the Black community when it comes to justice?

If we would be honest, we all would have to say emphatically “No!” or even “Hell No!”

The circulating images of protestors staring down the guns of a heavily armed military, facing unjust arrests, stripped of the right to peacefully protest and even dogs, could have easily been confused with Birmingham in 1963. The modern day water hose was the launching of tear gas into marching crowds and even the backyards of innocent residents in Ferguson.

What has really changed in America for Black people? 

Do we really think this country is going to treat us any better, when it’s perfectly okay with police officers, in 2014, to gun down a young unarmed Black male in broad daylight and leave his body in the middle of the street for over four hours?

People want to merely point the finger at the looting of a few in Ferguson, while failing to point out the corroding American injustice system, the misreporting of the White media, and the corroding power structure of the police force that has a track record of dehumanizing Blacks.

What has really changed in America for Black people? 

We MUST Understand that history is repeating itself and we display a level of insanity doing and seeing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

During the month of August, two historic events are always discussed by the American society, Blacks in particular: The March on Washington in 1963 led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the legal lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Unfortunately, although it was and is an important speech, Dr. King’s life and fight for justice has been limited to an “I Have A Dream” moment. However, he grew to see and speak out on the hypocrisies of America.

Four years after his speech on the Washington Mall, Dr. King addressed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August of 1967. That message was titled, “The Crisis in America’s Cities: An Analysis of Social Disorder and a Plan of Action Against Poverty, Discrimination and Racism in Urban America.”  

These words may shock you, but Dr. King said: “The policy makers of the White society have caused the darkness; they created discrimination; they created slums; they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty.  It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes.  They are born of the greater crimes of the White society. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the White society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison.  Let us say boldly that if the total slum violations of law by the White man over the years were calculated and were compared with the law breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the White man.”

He went on to say, “In the midst of progress Negroes were being murdered in the South and cynical White jurors automatically freed the accused. The White backlash told Negroes that there were limits to their progress; that they must expect to remain permanently unequal and permanently poor.  The White backlash said Negroes should not confuse improvements with equality.  True equality, it said, will be resisted to the death. …”

Yes, those are the words of Dr. King that we must digest and understand. Who is bold enough today to tell it like it is that what’s happening in Ferguson mirrors what America thinks about its former slaves?

Never forget that in 1955 Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi for reportedly flirting with a White woman. They beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, shot him in the head, and disposed of his body in the river with a cotton gin and barbed wire wrapped around his neck. It sparked an outcry, protests, marches, and speeches, yet the murderers went free. Sounds familiar?

Why does it seem like every time a Black person is killed by a White person, the victim gets put on trial and sympathy given to the killer? Why is Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson allowed to shoot Michael Brown, and then go into “hiding” like the White lynching mobs of the past? Has anything really changed?

Today, the present generation sees Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and more as the modern-day ‘Emmett Till’ cases.

Our community is still crying for justice from a system that is bent on not providing it. So what should we do? What have we learned from the past and what is blatantly being shown to us right now?

What’s next for post-Ferguson America? Will we just keep waiting for the next moment when a Black is murdered at the hands of a White before we decide to unify, plan, organize and lay out a future for ourselves?

We MUST Understand, nothing won’t change until we yield the power to force a change.