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Parkland Reflections

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Friday, April 20, 2018
Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2018

By C. K. LeDaniel

Parkland     On February 14th of this year, a young man armed with an AR-15 rifle entered his former high school, killed 17 people—mostly students—and injured 15. This was, by no means, the first school shooting we’ve seen; in fact, there have been at least 17 school shootings to date in 2018 alone. In part because of its scale, this one captured the attention of the country, but more so because of the remarkable activism of the surviving students.
 
     In the weeks since we began to see their faces on our televisions and in our Facebook feeds, these students are also becoming increasingly “woke” about the racial issues involved in gun control. To be sure, the predominantly White affluence of the Parkland students has allowed the issue to gain traction and mobilize the country to “March for Our Lives”—the DC march was one of the largest in history. But the Parkland students are not all White. Many are Black and Latina. One of the most recognized among them is the young, queer, Latina woman, Emma Gonzalez. Her Black classmates have seen less airtime on our major news networks. But the visible White students have begun to “check their privilege” and call this out, while Black students, many of whom participated in the National Walkout Day on March 14th, have helped to check them.
 
     In watching the march on television, I found that people of color were far more amplified than they were initially. The remarkable Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old African American girl, has gone viral with her powerful message, stating she is speaking for those Black girls who are often forgotten. We also saw many young brothers, including Zion Kelly, a resident of D.C., and Christopher Underwood of Brooklyn, who both lost siblings to gun violence. Alex King and D’Angelo McDade from Chicago took the stage with tape over their mouths and their fists in the air.
 
     But what exactly are the racial issues involved in gun control? First, let’s take a quick look at the racist history of the Second Amendment itself, which supported the rights of White people to form militias better known as “slave patrols”, some of which were later known as the Ku Klux Klan. When Black people sought to arm themselves and exercise their constitutional right to self-defense against these groups, it should come as no surprise that legal institutions were able to easily circumvent a “race-neutral” application of the law. In other words, the Second Amendment and gun control have largely only ever been implemented to the disadvantage of people of color. Think back to the Black Panthers exercising their right to “open carry”; the Reagan Administration and local California legislators swiftly imposed restrictions.
 
     Today, we see the racist implementation of the Second Amendment as gun rights activists, mostly White people, have their rights respected and protected despite their overt aggression. One need only recall recent pictures of heavily armed White Supremacists in Charlotte, flanked and unchecked by law enforcement. Meanwhile, a legal gun owner in full compliance with the law, like Philando Castile, cannot reach into his glove compartment without being shot to death in his car while his killer, a police officer, goes free. White people armed with assault weapons and bombs, weapons of war and mass destruction, who are members of known White Supremacist groups, are referred to as “challenged young adults” with mental illnesses or tragic victims of bullying, while unarmed Black people are thugs so frightening that they are gunned down, not only by police officers, but also by “neighborhood watchmen” like George Zimmerman, who took out Trayvon while he walked home with a package of Skittles in his hand.  The “law” allowed Zimmerman to be acquitted.
 
     The March for Our Lives youth and teachers’ unions oppose the “hardening of schools” promoted by Trump and the National Rifle Association (NRA), in which teachers would be trained and armed and more safety officers would be placed in schools. They oppose these for good reasons. It is a cynical attempt to increase gun sales. It will likely lead to more loss of life. A gun will not stop an AR-15. Teachers want to teach, not be armed, and they want funding to support the teaching, not the gun manufacturers. But we moms of MOBB United are keenly aware that the “hardening of schools” will mean the increased loss of Black life, as the armed fear for their lives around dark-skinned children. More safety officers in schools already has meant a dramatic growth in the school-to-prison pipeline as our sons are criminalized at an ever earlier age. This will only grow more, feeding the beast of mass incarceration.
 
     Much was made in the march of the concerns of communities of color regarding the presence and use of guns in their own communities. Fortunately, I did not hear the problem referred to as a so-called “Black on Black” crime issue, a racist construct, at least not from the march speakers and not on the media outlets I frequent. The issue was more appropriately raised as one of racially determined, socio-economic problems heightened by the easy availability of lethal arms. D’Angelo McDade, cited above, said, “I stand before you representing the body of those who have experienced and lost their lives due to gun violence. For we are survivors. For I am a survivor. For we are survivors not only of gun violence, but of silence. For we are survivors of the erratic productions of poverty. But not only that, we are the survivors of unjust policies and practices upheld by our Senate. We are survivors of lack of resources within our schools. We are survivors of social, emotional, and physical harm."
 
     For us moms, the gun violence that breaks our hearts all too often was reflected in the murder of Stephon Clark, a young Black father holding a white cell phone in his own backyard, whose phone struck such terror in two police officers that they shot him 20 times within 3 seconds of seeing him and cuffed his lifeless body on the ground. I was relieved that Stephon Clark was invoked several times at the march, including by Edna Chavez, a young Latina student from South Central Los Angeles. Let us hope that the youth involved in this new movement—many of our sons and daughters among them—will continue to be mindful of race and of intersectionality in all of their activism

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Tags:  activism  Alex King  ar-15  Black  C.K.  Chavez  CK  CK LeDaniel  Clark  D'Angelo McDade  death  Edna  Emma Gonzalez  Fl  Florida  gun violence  intersectionality  kids  March  mass  massacre  murder  Naomi Wadler  national walk out day  Parkland  protest  racism  school-to-prison pipeline  Senate  shooting  silenced  Stephon  youth  Zion Kelly 

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Black Maternal Trauma - Part 4: Paying for Freedom

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Saturday, February 10, 2018
Updated: Friday, February 9, 2018

By Uchechi Eke

Uchechi Eke     During President Barack Obama’s era, as it relates to judiciary and more specifically, prison and bail reform, the former President gave state judges discretionary powers to find alternative options to a custodial sentence if the perceived offender could not afford bail, such as a payment plan or community sentence. Just recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to repeal and roll back these powers, declaring that state judges no longer can practice such discretion, and if someone is accused of a crime, and cannot pay the bond amount, they will have to pay with jail time.

     Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time—not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime. On any given day, more than 400,000 people who are convicted of no crime are held in jail because they cannot afford to buy their freedom.

     We all know how discriminatory this is, especially as the majority of those stopped, searched, and arrested are young Black men—our boys. This policy also makes no fiscal sense for the public. For example, in the state of Texas, it costs over $50 per day to incarcerate someone, but less than $2 to supervise them on a community order. When Black and Brown people are over-policed, arrested, and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper. Every year $9 billion dollars is wasted incarcerating people who’ve not been convicted of a crime, and insurance companies, who have taken over the bail system, get richer.

     There is nothing more traumatic in this scenario than knowing that your son does not have the financial means to pay his bail and you are also unable to raise the exorbitant amount. This reminds me of the Kalief Browder case. Kalief’s family was too poor to post bond when he was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sentenced to a kind of purgatory before ever being brought to trial and finally the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Meanwhile, of the nearly 3 years that he was at Riker’s Island, more than 2 of those were spent in solitary confinement, ultimately creating irreversible damage that lead to his suicide at age 22.

     The judges reviewing the bond limit are required to assess the risk of ‘flight or danger’ to the community. Many Black boys and men pose neither of these risks. Many offences with which they are charged are minor misdemeanors, i.e., shoplifting or possession of a small quantity of marijuana.

     The impact on the Black boy who now sits in jail awaiting a trial date or sentence is formidable, as he now faces multiple hardships. His education is disrupted. His mental state declines. He is estranged from his family and friends. He will be ostracised upon his release, labelled,and stigmatised. He will find it difficult to reintegrate back into society, including by finding gainful employment, which may lead him to repeat his behaviour.

     And what about the impact on his mother, not knowing when her son will be home? Mom worries herself sick, knowing he will be ill-treated. This worry accompanies tremendous guilt that weighs her down for not being financially able to bail him out, not to mention the emotional strain on his siblings and father and the mental anguish when confronted by family members, friends, neighbours and teachers who constantly ask “where is your boy?”

     Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers while their sons languish in jail, sometimes for months or years—a consequence of nationwide backlogs and prosecutorial interests. Not to mention, the Prison Industrial Complex, which also profits from vulnerable families who cannot afford bail. We can’t fix the broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.

     As mothers, we have a duty of care. This includes social, political and economic activism.

     I hope this piece has ignited a flame, one that will help MOBB United and MOBB United for Social Change to distinguish this discriminatory practice and continue the fight to ensure that our sons do not pay such a harsh price for their freedom—whether at the hands of the police or the prison system.

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Tags:  accused  arrested  bai  Black  boys  Browder  brutality  crimes  death  die  discriminatory  eke  impact  injustice  insurance  Kalief  kill  law enforcement  maternal  men  murder  over-policed  paying for freedom  police  psyche  racism  Riker's Isalnd  Trauma  Uchechi 

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Black Maternal Trauma - Part 2

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Saturday, September 2, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 2, 2017

By Uchechi Eke

 

Uchechi Eki

    My intention for this feature is to discuss in more detail the psychological impact that moms of Black boys and men endure when they watch, read or hear that their son, or another male figure in their family or community, has fallen victim to police brutality. (Also read Part One of this series). There is a mounting body of work dedicated to, and extensive research on, ‘Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)’, which provides a useful context for this article.


    The revered author and highly acclaimed clinical psychologist, Dr. Joy DeGruy, describes PTSS as, “a set of behaviours, beliefs and actions associated with, or related to multi-generational trauma experienced by African-Americans as a result of slavery…PTSS posits that centuries of slavery in the United States, followed by systemic and structural racism and oppression, including lynching, Jim Crow laws, and unwarranted mass incarceration, have resulted in multigenerational maladaptive behaviours, which originated as survival strategies. The syndrome continues because children whose parents suffer from PTSS are often indoctrinated into the same behaviours, long after the behaviours have lost their contextual effectiveness.” (‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing’, 2005, Dr. Joy DeGruy).


    I think the relevance and impact of PTSS has never been more acute. We live in an age where ‘Black Pain Porn’ is commonplace. The term might appear extreme, but the reality is worse. The onslaught of visuals that Black mothers are subject to has become a relentless and constant part of our everyday experience.


    With the advancements in modern technology, we are witnessing an unprecedented and never-ending movie reel of terror. Mobile phones capture the indignity, brutality and murders of our boys at an alarming and exponential rate. As of the time of writing (08.10.2017), 608 people had been shot and killed by police this year. 150 or 25% of all cases were Black victims.


    Mobile phones and social and digital platforms have played a substantial role in our pain. But we also must give consideration to the impact on our psyche that news channels, the mainstream print media and Hollywood have played in our trauma. The broadcasting of state sanctioned killings on social media alert us to the horrors that occur in real time – no filters, just raw, unaltered images. These video clips compel and arrest our attention – impulsively, we react emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Out of anger and frustration, we mobilize, demand reforms and seek justice. But then what? We are left empty still, hopeless and anxiety stricken for the safety of our boys, who merely are trying to live their lives like their White counterparts.


    During chattel slavery, mothers witnessed their children, husbands and members of their family being raped, beaten, set alight and killed. Lynchings were public events; they became fixtures in the calendar. Newspapers and posters widely promoted the execution of loved ones. Picnics and stools lined the vicinity, people waited with earnest expectation at the spectacle before them – the lynching, castration and burning of the ‘n***er who stepped out of line.’ Wives, sisters, aunts and mothers were forced to watch these heinous crimes as a form of punishment and as a deterrent. Of course, women also were lynched, leaving their children motherless; and with both parents gone, many children became orphans, left in the care of their extended family of slave owners.


    From slavery to the Reconstruction, from the Civil Rights movement to the Obama era, history has not been kind to our sons. Systematic oppression occupies all forms of strata. And with every age, new and evolved methods of brutality have been used to maintain White supremacy and White preservation.


    My question is what really is behind this agenda? Why haven’t the images of Black people being killed been censored or quelled? Why are we faced with the consumption of blackness in every form?


    From Emmett Till to MLK, from Rodney King to Michael Brown, from Tamir Rice to Darius Smith, we are bombarded with live-action footage of Black men and boys being shot and killed without recourse or reproach.


    Let’s look more closely at how our trauma is ever present, via the propaganda driven, race-baiting and one-dimensional narratives utilized for commercial gain at the Box Office. Hollywood, like nationwide media outlets, is one of our greatest aggressors. Film companies and studio executives strategically and falsely sell us ‘colorblindness’ and the importance of telling ‘our stories’, against a backdrop of racism. Their films and TV shows only serve to perpetuate and recycle ‘Black Pain Porn.’ Through the medium of television and film, racist language and acts are liberally displayed on our screens – seeping into our subconscious to normalize Black subjugation for a predominantly White audience. But we watch these films, too!


    This is why there is very little empathy or sympathy for our sons when their bodies are left at the side of a road, or outside a store, or in a car. The dominant society has seen the destruction and disposal of Black and brown bodies so many times, that they have become insensitive to our humanity. They cannot express outrage; there is no outcry. Don’t get me wrong, we have many allies within White America, from grassroots organizations to prolific and outspoken individuals who have been instrumental in our fight. And we will continue to partner with them to pursue our mission and align our advocacy efforts with theirs.


    However, there have been countless movies made about slavery, slaves, servitude and victim-hood, compared to the number of films showing us as the heroic protagonist, or films that revel in and celebrate our resistance, progress and advancement? Let’s look at a few popular examples over the past hundred years:

 

Slave Films

Revolt Stories

1903 ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’

1982 ‘A House Divided: Denmark Vesey’s Rebellion’

1975 ‘Mandingo’

1989 ‘Glory’

1984 ‘Solomon Northup’s Odyssey’ and 2013 ’12 Years a Slave’

1997 ‘Amistad’

2012 ‘Django Unchained’

2008 ‘Frederick Douglass and the White Negro’

1977 ‘Roots’

2013 ‘Tula’

2016 ‘Roots’

2016 ‘Birth of a Nation’

 

    Of the films listed above, which ones do you prefer and genuinely enjoyed watching? Which ones were as informative as they were soul-renewing? Or which ones just left a bad taste in your mouth?


   With ’12 Years a Slave’ for instance, as cinematographically brilliant as the film is, it’s hard to watch without being angered about the amount of violence perpetrated upon Black flesh and Black womanhood without simultaneously feeling that the self-worth of the modern day African-American isn’t being diminished. It’s also difficult to negate my emotions that that this kind of film inflames an omnipresent and smouldering mistrust of Whites by Blacks.


    In recent, years we have seen the tide turn slightly. We have the superb and thought-provoking documentary ‘13th’, ‘I’m Not Your Negro’, ‘The Kaleif Browder Story’, and the TV series ‘Underground’, which highlight not only the impact of racist laws, but also the spirit of our people to overcome and resist in the face of utter despair and savagery. However, we still have some way to go. The recent release of ‘Detroit’ is a step backwards for me. The film focuses on the 1967 uprisings in Detroit. Over 5 days, the city burned. One police officer was killed, and 43 citizens died. The ‘rebellion’ is tainted, and all we see are ‘rioters’ and ‘looters’. Aren’t we are tired of seeing the same images? Nothing new here. So why are such films continually being funded and produced?


    The bodies of Black boys and men still are subject to abuse, and no one is saying it’s enough. Rather, we are told to ‘get over it,’ ‘work hard,’ ‘pull ourselves up,’ ‘stop whining and complaining,’ and ‘stop being divisive.’ If you want us to forget, why continue to make films that remind us of our afflictions? Is it because it propagates the image they want us to retain, to impress upon our psyche, forever etched in our soul – that we are nothing more than captives, needing to be saved, unable to advance, regressive, feral, anti-authoritarian and inferior?


    We need to stop the profiteering of our pain by patronizing these films and shows. We need to be more decisive about that to which we expose ourselves. We need to guard our spirits and be more conscious of what we are willing to tolerate – anger without action is futile. Self-love, self-preservation and protecting our peace is paramount to our resistance.


    As bleak as it may appear, there are countless organizations that are working tirelessly to flip the script, impact policy, seek reforms, change perceptions, dismantle falsehoods and institute a new paradigm shift – one that clearly centres Black boys and men with dignity, showing their humanity, demanding respect and justice. I’m proud to be a member of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC).


    Will you join us to protect and honor the image of our boys and start the healing process in order to repair our minds and restitute our communities? Register at www.mobbunited.org/join now!


    This is the second installment of the log and blog series on the victims of fatal police brutality that MUSC has been tracking since it was established in the summer of 2016. Also read Black Maternal Trauma - Part 1 if you missed it.

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Tags:  12 years a slave  A House Divided  Amistad  birth of a nation  Black Maternal Trauma  Black men  boys  deadly  death  Denmark Vesey's Rebellion  Dr. Joy DeGruy  force  Frederick Douglas  funeral  Glory  grief  injustice  Jim Crow  kill  killed  killing  Mandingo  mourn  movie  murder  police brutality  Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome  PTSS  revolt stories  roots  sad  slave films  Solomon Northrup's Odyssey  statistics  Tula  Uchechi Eke  Uncle Tom's Cabin  victim  victims log and blog  White Negro 

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Black Maternal Trauma - Part 1

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Friday, August 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

By Uchechi Eke

Uchechi Eke

The Facts

  • 581 people have been killed by the police in 2017 so far.

  • 25% (a quarter) or 145 of those killed in 2017, are Black. African-Americans make up just 13% of the population.

  • 309 Black people were killed by the police in 2016.

  • Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.

  • Black people are 7 times more likely to be killed in Oklahoma than Georgia.

  • 19 of the 100 largest U.S. city police departments kill Black men at higher rates than the U.S murder rate.

  • 99% of police involved shootings in 2015 did NOT result in any officer being convicted.

The Problem

     To coincide with MOBB United’s 1-year anniversary, I was asked to compile a list of unarmed Black boys/men killed by police between July 2016 and July 2017.

     I knew the data existed.

     I knew it would be a daunting and cumbersome task.

     I knew it would resurrect painful memories.

     I never expected my role as a mother to be questioned: “Am I really in a position to protect my son?”

     The Washington Post began tracking all fatal shootings by on-duty police in 2015, in the aftermath of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

     Since Brown’s killing, other fatal shootings by police, many captured on video, have fuelled protests and calls for reform. Some police chiefs have taken steps in their departments to address and reduce the number of fatal encounters, yet the overall numbers compared to 2016 remain unchanged.

     I have highlighted a few cases that occurred in the last 12 months below:

2016:

2017:

     Nothing prepares you for the emotional trauma you experience every time you read the details of a new case. I find myself always caught off guard by the images of the deceased. I am always haunted by the pain that lies behind the eyes of the mother.

     As mothers of Black boys, there should be a limit to our pain. There should come a time when extrajudicial killings are a thing of the past. There should be an upper ceiling, where the number of extrajudicial killings should never reach. But there is no limit. Black bodies are slain almost weekly. And every time we witness a murder, we re-live the trauma.

     The images of unarmed Black boys/men being brutalized by police has become inescapable. The cases above highlight this pandemic. We visualise the victim as being our son(s). Viewing videos of people being gunned down by police is not psychologically healthy. The mental scars that result from witnessing excessive force against Black people creates a form of collective trauma. Police brutality then becomes part of our daily consciousness -- our lived experience -- causing anger, fear, frustration and a sense of hopelessness.

     African-Americans experience Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) at a higher rate than any other ethnic group, according to a study published in 2010 by PubMed. Repeatedly viewing physical trauma can have other adverse effects often associated with post-traumatic stress, including jumpiness, anxiety and paranoia.

     Another worrying trend, is that almost all victims noted above were unarmed or had a toy weapon. Implicit bias leads many officers to possess an irrational and heightened sense of fear. They see Black males and automatically ‘fear for their lives’. Cops are trained to be calm in hostile environments. As part of their training, de-escalation is the first priority. But in recent incidents, ‘shoot on sight’ seems to be the modus operandi. Even when officers carry militarized weapons, or are accompanied by a SWAT,  they still are incapable of controlling the situation without resorting to deadly force.

     But the question still remains: How can I protect my son?”

     Am I complicit in de-humanising our boys by sharing these graphic images and by researching their deaths?

     Does the utility of these images, circulated on social media and via news channels actually inspire shame, outrage and activism?

     Or do they just desensitize us, exacerbating our pain and further contributing to our psychological trauma?

     Have we become too ‘numb’ to act?

The Solutions

     Whether we see these killings as being state sanctioned, racially motivated or part of the wider system of white supremacy, the discourse must change -- from a discussion about criminal justice reform, to a debate that results in society viewing this problem as a national health crisis.

     With nominal charges being brought, and without convictions that stick, justice seems out of our reach. Thus, if there is a cultural shift, and the death toll is regarded as a public health issue, affecting not only the immediate family, then maybe we would see a reduction in race-based police violence.

     Our boys must be seen as human first. Not as criminals. Not as a menacing threat. In a significant number of the cases, the victim struggled with a mental illness. They needed medical assistance, not a death sentence.

     The trauma faced by mothers, members of the family and the wider community must be taken into account. Departments cannot continue to use our tax dollars on settlements. They cannot afford to recurrently restore communities after protests and riots. If departmental budgets are reduced, or pensions affected, salaries capped, steep penalties applied (including a rise in insurance premiums for fatal force), or higher conviction rates, then maybe, just maybe, we will begin to see less of our sons dying before our very eyes.

     We know ‘respectability politics’ is flawed and biased. More white boys use drugs, but are not profiled or arrested at higher rates. White boys also wear hoodies and low-slung jeans, but they are not stopped, searched and beaten.

     So what do we tell our sons, and as mothers, what can we do? Here are some solutions:

  • Education & Awareness – Our boys need to be more vigilant, go out in ‘groups’. Many of the cases involved a single boy or man. It is more likely that police would shoot a lone individual, than a group of boys or men. Our sons also need to ‘know their rights’ when confronted with police. They need to know what to ask and how to respond.

  • Community Policing – More Black men and black women need to work on the police forces. Officers should reside in the areas they police. It is less likely that a cop who is acquainted with his neighbours would harm them. We must also make an effort to engage with officers, attend meetings and hold them accountable.

  • Advocacy & Action – More moms need to campaign, fundraise and take part in demonstrations -- from writing letters and signing petitions, to calling local police departments and attending rallies, to being visible at public consultations, meetings and hearings – it all helps the cause!

  • Political Engagement -– Representation matters -- from the cop on the street to the judge in the courtroom. We need to be occupying all positions. We also need to vote during all local, state and presidential elections. We need to canvass on behalf of fair officials and chiefs, and root out and vote against the corrupt and indifferent ones.

     Let me know what you think. What else can we do? How do you protect your peace and protect your son?

     Join us on the front lines. We can no longer be witnesses to murder. Silence is complicity. Get involved and register at www.mobbunited.org/join.

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Tags:  action  advocacy  awareness  Black boys and men  Black Maternal Trauma  brutality  community policing  death  died  education  injustice  justice  killed  latest victims  mourn  murder  polic  police brutality  police violence  political engagement  problem  protect  solution  Uchechi Eke  Victims  violence 

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#ProtectThem Louder

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Monday, June 26, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 3, 2017

 

Pamela Wood-Garcia

By Pamela Wood-Garcia

 

          As Moms of Black boys and men, we all know that our sons experience a plethora of injustices. The greatest of these injustices is untimely, unwarranted deaths at the hands of law enforcement. These incidents have taken place for hundreds of years with little to no accountability. In the last several years, there has been a heightened awareness of these incidents because social media has served as a periscope to the black community, giving us much clearer insight as to how the judicial system allows police officers literally to get away with murder. By now, we all have witnessed the cold-blooded killing of Black men and boys caught on the camera phones of bystanders and uploaded to social media. Even a few murders have been streamed live on Facebook while the world watched.

 

           Question: Are we protecting them “loud” enough?

 

           During President Barack Obama’s administration, there was a constant influx of information about these unjustified murders circulating on social and mainstream media. The information was so moving that it served as the catalyst for Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United) to be formed. But suddenly, it seems as if the attention to our sons’ plight is being overshadowed by other headlines. News stories abound now of attacks on immigrants and the torching of synagogues and mosques. What? No word on the brother who was murdered by police last month in Tennessee? He streamed his own murder live on Facebook! No word on the three 15-year-old Black boys murdered in Texas, Connecticut, and California by cops? The media gave a vague overview of each incident and chucked them. It is as if we are expected to move about like the murders of Black boys and men have magically disappeared. Yeah, right…not in America and certainly not during the current presidential administration.

 

           President Donald Trump’s campaign promised to build a ”tremendous wall” to keep Mexican immigrants -- to whom he referred as rapists, drug dealers, and thieves -- out of the United States. He also swore to place a ban on Muslim refugees to keep them from entering the country so acts of terrorism could not be committed on American soil. He topped off all of his campaign promises with anti-semitic remarks and appointees. Since Trump was elected, there has been an increase in hate crimes towards these groups of people. These incidents deserve the ample attention they are getting in the media, but there once was the same kind of media spotlight on law enforcement murdering Black boys and men. Where did that push go? The world still needs to be informed when an innocent man is demonized and executed for his Blackness. We, as a people, still need to be seen and heard on these issues. This blog is not being written to downplay the social injustices that happen in non-Black communities but to let people know that the killings of Black boys and men are still taking place! MOBB United is stepping up -- more than 175k moms strong -- to carry out this mission.

 

           MOBB United was formed as a light in the midst of the darkness surrounding the slayings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling. They both were killed by law enforcement within 24 hours of one another during what should have been routine stops. Neither man was brandishing a weapon nor using any kind of derogatory or threatening language. Neither man resisted any of the police officers’ commands. Philando’s four-year-old daughter and girlfriend witnessed his murder in a car while Alton’s community watched his murder in front of a store. The harshest reality of the deaths of these men is that there may never be any justice served for either of them. Philando’s killer was acquitted of all charges on June 16, 2017. Only God knows what will happen in Alton’s case. Most likely, more of the same blatant injustice.The cases would have been tried with convictions if the tables were turned. If a cop was shot in his chest at point blank range by two Black men holding him down on the ground, the two Black men would be dead or in prison awaiting execution. If a Black man had shot a white cop through a car window in front of his four-year-old child and girlfriend, he would have been hunted down and killed or put in prison for the rest of his life. No one would be considering their actions self-defense.  

 

           Alton and Philando were loving human beings executed like rabid animals. Alton’s execution was caught on camera and uploaded to the internet while Philando’s was streamed live by his girlfriend. The next day, MOBB United’s founder, Depelsha McGruder, started a Facebook group called Moms Of Black Boys. Her first post read, “I am starting this group because I don’t know what else to do.”  She added 30 other moms of Black boys. Those moms could relate to her raw emotion and they added other moms with Black sons whom they knew would relate to  Depelsha’s post. Out of this, MOBB United was formed. Since its founding, there have been at least 20 more Black men and boys killed during interactions with police officers, but the media has largely turned its attention elsewhere, towards the hatred we are seeing directed at other groups. However, there is a profound difference between hate crimes committed by HATE groups and what amounts to hate crimes committed by law enforcement. Police officers have taken an oath to protect and serve every citizen in their jurisdiction. They represent the law, the state. Yet they murder Black men and boys for flinching during routine traffic stops? They murder people with mental illnesses who are in distress? They murder our sons because they know it is a crime that almost anybody with a gun and a badge can commit without consequence. What can be done to put an end to these senseless crimes? MOBB United is on the right track.

 

           MOBB United’s mission is fundamental to the goal of protecting our sons and eradicating these killings: to provide information and support for moms of Black sons and promote positive images of Black boys and men; to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and society.  MOBB United stands on five pillars that are to change the perception that the world has of Black men and boys; influence legislative policy; demonstrate collective political, and economic power within the communities that we serve; strategically partner with organizations that can assist MOBB United in carrying out its mission; and to promote self-care for moms of boys and their families. This begins and ends at home with moms.

 

           As moms, it is our responsibility to make sure our sons understand how the world sees them. Perception is nine-tenths of a person’s reality. Research shows that 10-year-old Black boys are perceived as a threat to the rest of society and many people fear them. Our sons need to be made aware of this. This is not to stifle who they are but to raise their awareness as we parent to create good character, healthy self-images, and healthy interactions. Knowledge of self is imperative to creating these qualities. This means teaching them that there is greatness in African-American history and culture. This also means teaching them that they are a reflection of that history and culture, and they can achieve anything to which they put their minds. As MOBB United travails to change the perception that the world has of our beautiful sons, MOBB United for Social Change is calling, writing, and meeting with local, state, and federal officials in droves to influence change in legislative policy and to ensure that once change has occurred, it is enforced to the fullest extent of the law. Demonstrating our collective economic and political power, changing perception of our men and boys, and influencing policy and legislation won’t bring back any of our beloved Black men or boys, but it will save lives in the future. It will make a police officer think twice before he or she decides to use lethal force or even racially profile a Black male. It will let moms of Black boys and men all over the world know that somebody is standing in the trenches working, fighting, and praying for them.

 

           MOBB United’s action pays homage to the memory of the fallen. It lets the world know that victims, including Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mario Woods, Newman Demarco, Alfred Olango, Jason King, Levonia Riggins, Reginald Thomas Jr., Terrance Coleman, George Meyers, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Jayson Negron, Darius Smith, Jordan Edwards, Terence Crutcher, Alfred Olango, as well as so many others like them nationwide and even worldwide, were important human beings whose lives had great value. Their lives and deaths sparked the mother of all movements. MOBB United is here to defend, protect, and advocate for our Black boys and men. We are here to fight; we are here to win; we here for our sons.

 

          Let's protect them LOUDER.

 

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Tags:  bystanders  camera phones  change perception  dead  death  deceased  demonstrate power  five pillars  influence policy  injustice  killing  law enforcement  lethal force  murder  partner strategically  promote self-care  protect and serve  protectthem  racial profiling  slaying  unwarranted death  victims 

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