Blacks have never been free in this
country, a country in which,
never was it intended that they should be free,
and the spectre
of so dreadful a freedom—the idea of a license so bloody and
abandoned—conjures up another, unimaginable country
in which no decent,
God-fearing white man or woman can live.
“You gotta gather all the
facts. Once you got all the facts…”
“I think we know how to do
“Gather all the facts first.”
How plain as day was the video.
Jacob Blake is approaching his car, and, in the back seat, we’ll
know soon enough, are three young children. He pulls the driver’s
car door towards him and starts with his back to the officers.
Did I mention the officers? Kenosha,
Wisconsin police officers!
Two, at least, both carrying their
guns pointed at Jake. Pointed at Jake’s back! And there’s
the one closes to Jake, reaching out with one hand to pull on Jake’s
shirt. Then his hands are back on the gun and…
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop…
The witnesses on the scene are
scream. Jumping up and down.
It’s unbelievable. But it’s
As Jacob Blake was coming around the
car, it didn’t seem as if he had anything in his hands. He
wants to get away from the police with guns already drawn. He, a
father, wants to reach his children because he knows they are young
and babies and precious but not to police, seeing only black. Black.
Black. Black. The police won’t care in a country were
anti-blackness is an inherited European concept that made it so much
easier for David Hume and Hegel as well as Jefferson and Franklin to
pontificate on the inferiority of African people.
There’s a history but never
enough time to lay out this history, is there, before the police
start shooting? They won’t stop, will they?
Seven times the police fire at
Jake’s back. Right into his back!
Compare this scene to the second
night of protests. Witnesses on the
scene pointed at a white man with a weapon. It’s so usual an
image. A long rifle but he is able to shoot at a crowd of protesters,
some who are shouting for the police to notice this insanity and
others trying to stop the man from firing.
vigilante, says Lt. Governor, Mandela Barnes, appearing on Democracy
Now! But who is listening in
are dead and the white man escapes capture. And why is this? Why is
it that the Black man is shot but not the white man with the rifle,
firing into a crowd of protesters? Why is the former image of
violence acceptable to the point of being invisible to law
enforcement while the latter requires an excessive response?
Now to the “facts.” As
of a few days after the shooting: Jacob Blake is paralyzed from the
waist down! A fact!
Attorney Benjamin Crump is on the
scene asking, was it necessary for Kenosha police to shoot Jake,
once, let alone seven times?
There’s a real problem in our
culture with policing, adds Barnes.
But in this neck of the woods in
Wisconsin, policing here thinks the way white citizens think.
It’s Kenosha, Wisconsin. Here
where I’ve been sending dispatches in the form of articles to
my column at The Black Commentator
and to OpEdNews in the
last five years about the narrative and practice of racist. Ethnic
can I say about the Kenosha NAACP—perhaps, as chained to the
“good” Negro role, terrified of any Black resisting the
maintenance of the racial hierarchy in Kenosha. But some time ago,
when I tried to reach out to fellow activists, activists I thought
were Black Lives Matter activists, I encountered middle-aged to older
white women who were of the generation I left behind here twenty
years ago when I taught at the University of Wisconsin Parkside.
These were white women, with a lock on “activism” just as
they were committed twenty years ago to protecting the racial
hierarchy and economic status quote. I could teach women of color
courses, African women courses, African American women courses. But I
would never be invited to meetings of women studies faculty.
now, there’s a new generation of new gatekeepers. And it’s
“activism” now in that illusion of “progress.”
And “diversity” is only lesbian and trans, with no room
for Black people struggling to combat systemic racism. White
keep it in the family! Making the world, starting with Kenosha, safe
for sons and daughters to “get ahead.”
It isn’t as if racism doesn’t
exist for them. They know racism is real. They are “activists”
in making sure certain Blacks don’t express the anger at living
in a city that seems to have skipped right over the Civil Rights era
and the shadow of black figures with raised fists and rifles lurks
the streets of Kenosha even if such a reality never existed here.
Nonetheless, white residents fear
the whole city of Chicago. Too violent. Filled with people who are
two violent. And I haven’t had to live here all of twenty years
to know that there are whites here who believe my birth town, Chicago
is filled with violent Black
hard to inform liberal white America about that conquest and
enslavement of a good chunk of humanity. And the perpetrators were
white. Millions then as millions in the 20th
century. Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan.
about the children in those detention camps at the border? How many
children in the world without enough food thanks to US embargo…
that would require gathering the “facts” and gathering
the “facts” here means social media with no discretion.
And FoxNews and Trump.
predominantly working class city, Kenosha, leaned toward Trump in
2016. I didn’t come across the opposition’s sign. Months
after his election, Trump came to Kenosha’s Snap On plant and
the town went wild. Red hats everywhere. Cell phone cameras on the
Trump is Great and
Make America Great
signs are making their way to apartment doors and lawns, in time for
November of this year. Even here in my apartment building, there’s
an apartment door with two Trump signs.
to the shooting of Jacob Blake, everything was fine here—if as
a Black, you don’t bring up race! Don’t even refer to
“Black people” too many times or you will be asked, as I
was, why do you talk all the time about Black people! If you as a
Black woman, at 66-years old, don’t mention anything to do with
race but talk about the weather, shopping, you’re good. Not so
talk about race. Or anything that calls attention to you as
a Black person, and while you maneuver the terrain that is Kenosha,
Wisconsin, please keep even informed opinions to yourself so as to
not raises the anger of whites who will punish you—with
impunity—because power is wrapped so tightly around their skin
that it is one and the same thing, isn’t it?
are superior beings here. Some of the young are arrogant and speak
not as if—but as—older and therefore wiser because they
assume they know Blacks are inferior, aren’t we? And older
whites finding nothing unusual in their expectation that Blacks will
understand that second-class citizenship is reserved for them. It
could be worse: There are prison cells in Milwaukee, filled with
“criminals,” Black, of course.
some will say, it’s like this everywhere in this racist nation.
But, yes, but here in Kenosha, it’s a joke to say you will
appeal to the local traditional organizations that have traditionally
been complacent with the status quo. The bar is set too high if you
are intent to point out racism. On the other hand, there is no end to
the “activism” galvanized to blacklisted, marginalized,
gaslighted, shot down dissent.
a day-to-day struggle, small “s” because in Kenosha, the
anti-blackness is swirls, as white-hot flames, around a perceived
invasion of Blacks from Chicago and Milwaukee. Even Racine. Safety
for white citizens here is therefore a priority in order to hold back
this “herd” of Blacks coming to take away a haven where
whiteness can reside without fear. Ironically, the whole image of
Black people invading Kenosha, seeking to harm white people is fueled
then, Kenosha style, is an adjustment to a narrative of white
innocence devoid of any historical white violence. It’s a form
of “activism” Black residents are forced to participate
in. Keeping yourself in check and stressing out!
not activism, but instead, Black life in Kenosha!
here, in this adherence to a racial hierarchy, the practice of
violence can be traced to its origins in the late medieval concept of
white as good and black as bad. Consciously or unconsciously,
adherence to this ignorance and indifference is the
primary violence that blankets Kenosha just as it does the whole of
the United States—a country founded on the conquest of
Indigenous populations and the enslavement of Africans and their
that day after Jacob is shot by the Kenosha police, I’m sitting
in the community room because my neighbor was determined to see the
back side of an “uppity n-----” exiting the building for
the last time, when I hear the manager and a tenant greeting one
How are you?
can never feel so awesome as I live between one police shooting and
the next. Not a damn things is awesome in Kenosha! Not for Black
people! And that should matter!
I guess, Kenosha has failed to gather all the facts!
if futile here. That’s the usual message to native Blacks and
those of us crossing the Illinois-Wisconsin border from Chicago.
it reaches home, becomes real, and Black residents, once compliant
and numbed, remove for themselves the muzzle from their mouths.
Resistance is our place. Black
lives do matter.
can express how proud this older life-long activist was to see Black
Lives Matter protesters here in Kenosha! Young Blacks and allies
here, gathered from surrounding cities, including—Chicago and
Milwaukee and Racine—demanding accountability. Demanding above
all that the movement for justice and freedom not be stifled by the
reflective response of a fearful white population anymore! Enough!
Blacks are sick and tired of the Kenosha brand of “activism”
that is nothing more than the madness of deliberate ignorance and
Blacks in Kenosha aren’t returning to white spaces!
Blake, hang in there! Hang in there!