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Est. April 5, 2002

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A couple of weeks ago, in the last days of 2020, a 14-year-old named Keyon Harrod, Jr., with a cell phone in his hand, is assaulted by a woman claiming the teen stole her cell phone. The woman makes a fuss, attracting the attention of the hotel manager at Arlo Soho in New York, and calling on him to intervene. The Black, there, has stolen something from me!

He didn’t.

Captured on video is the scuffle, nonetheless, that has been seen around the world. It’s has gone viral, as they say. A young white woman and a Black young teenage male. There’s the boy’s father too. And the white manager.

We learn that an Uber drive arrives and hands the woman her cell phone. You can imagine what really happened.

Attorney Benjamin Crump is on the case.

A few days before, on the evening of the 22nd, Andre Hill is in his garage when police arrive on the scene. At least one is wearing a body camera. There is Hill on the ground. That fast! He’s not dead, but he’s not receiving assistance from the police who move close to the prone man and surround him. To handcuff him. Andre Hill is Black.

Also on the 20th, Dr. Susan Moore, a physician, dies. She video taped herself on the 4th, in bed suffering from COVID-19 after having been diagnosed on November 29th. Dr. Moore, fifty-two years old, fought to call attention to her symptoms in hopes of receiving the proper treatment, asking for Remdesivir and requesting a CT Scan of her lungs to prove to the doctors that she, Dr. Moore, knew a little something, you’d think, about the seriousness of her illness and its progression. In a message also seen around the world, Dr. Moore declared that no one took the time to listen to her; instead, she records, the medical personnel made her feel as if she were “a drug addict.”

Finally, a CT Scan is performed and it showed “pulmonary infiltrates and inflamed lymph nodes,” according to The Hill. And then, Dr. Moore was treated with Remdesivir. And then, despite still not felling well enough, she is sent home!

There wasn’t much they could do for her!

This is how Black people get killed… When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves.”

Because she is Black, one of the groups of people hardest hit by COVID-19. “I put forth and I maintain if I was white,” she says into the camera, “I wouldn’t have to go through that.” But she did! And she is no longer because what does it matter that Dr. Moore knew what she was talking about?

On the 4th, Casey Goodson, on his way home from the dentist, has a sandwich in his hand. Minutes later, he too, is dead. Shot multiple times and at least three bullets enter his back. He was twenty-three years old. And Black.

In the year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020, we’ve come to know the names of so many others: Ahmaud Arbery, shot dead by police on February 23th, Breonna Taylor, shot dead on March 13th, George Floyd, shot dead on May 25th, Rayshard Brooks, shot dead June 13th, and Jacob Blake, shot August 23rd and now paralyzed from the waist down.

Anti-blackness, to be sure, didn’t begin in 2020.

For years, Blacks, lived in a nation that refused to confront its legacy of racial violence. Black Americans were told we had better not discuss “racial issues” in mixed company. Keep that foolishness to yourselves. Within your communities. At home. We are asked to remember that it was bad for the immigrant Irish. The Italian. The German.

Black Americans, particularly those with ancestors who were enslaved and exploited, terrorized, lynched, and killed for 400 years had to whisper and some thought to keep the younger generations - more willing to speak out - in check. Go shopping or pray. Pretend to have a good day and always be humble. Grateful.

White supremacy working in not so mysterious ways: Behind the phrase, “racial issues,” stands the idea of justice and egalitarian thinking and, most importantly, the practice of systemic (institutionalized) racism.

Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., in his book Stride Toward Freedom, writes that confronting systemic injustice is the responsibility of all citizens in the US. As citizens of the US, “we are caught in a network of inescapable mutuality.” King continues: “Therefore, no American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door. The racial problems will be solved in America to the degree that every American considers himself personally confronted with it.” The problem of justice is every citizen’s problem, he adds. It is every citizen’s problem “because it is America’s problem.”

I’m now in my late sixties, and Americans can view all these videos pointing out evidence of the violence that is white supremacy and still be blind. Americans still need more proof.

The eight minutes and forty-six seconds of George Floyd being murdered before the eyes of the world - on video - opened some eyes and ears. White Americans wanted to hear from Blacks on “racial issues.” They wanted to read Black Americans expressing what it means being Black in America. Last fall, one of my doctors, of Italian heritage, wanted to know what it was like being Black. Now! And now he wants to know. He’s been one of my doctors since 2015. I read body language, too. Have to. He really didn’t want to know.

For all of the spectacle on cable news and elsewhere, all this flurry of new Black hires to “represent” Blackness, all of the microphones thrust in the faces of young Black Lives Matter activists, the shooting and killing of Black Americans went on. Killed, ignored, accused, assaulted, maligned, America went on being the nation that it is.

And Black Americans have now been silenced about uttering anything regarding the need to curtail police violence by designating less money for military-style weaponry and armory. Police-with-guns are not the ones who should appear at the door of a resident in need of a wellness check. And no-knock-warrants? Seriously? That was yet another video, a police body cam coverage, of a naked middle-aged Black woman, shouting to the police that she was alone and was on her way to bed. No drug addict, no anyone else, lives here!

But do they listen? Do they respect the rights of this woman, standing among a bunch of men, and she has on no clothes?

All the military apparatus would make the officers feel like they are in Afghanistan or Iraq. And we know from video footage that sometimes, with smart-tech, things go awry or they go the way of an authoritarian regime disguising itself as if democratic.

In due time, white America will want to return to “normal.” They won’t talk about “racial issues,” having burnt out as many are now with the COVID-19 Pandemic. As the days near the Biden and Harris inaugural, white America will point to these two, the House of Representatives, the Senate, Black cabinet members, and just like in the latter days of Dr. King’s life, insist that something has been done to appease Black people.

What more can be done?

During the “holidays,” I viewed a few old videos. One in particular featured a forty-something Marlon Brando, a guest on the Johnny Carson Show. It’s a rare interview (a little over 15 minutes) because Brando, many of us will remember, rarely submitted to being interviewed. But this was a treat! Brando wasn’t plugging a film or television program or book. There’s nothing silly here. This is a conversation between two white men about the state of “racial issues.”

Brando has a message.

At the taping of this May 11, 1968 interview, Dr. King had been dead a little over a month. Brando, along with other celebrities, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Paul Newman, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier, attended the March on Washington in 1963.

Brando is calm, but firm. He begins by telling the audience that he gave up an opportunity to work, again, with director, Elia Kazan. Brando did so because King was shot. He sat in front of his television set, he said, listening to the news, wondering, he said, “what it meant to be that he was dead. And that he died...trying to get a 15% wage increase for garbage men.”

Brando continued to watch the news reports, including reports that featured Dr. King’s last speech, the night before. The actor takes the time to paraphrase the ending of the speech we’ve heard so often in these years since:

I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land…

King was shot the next day, Brando said. “I thought somehow this has got to matter. And if we don’t all as citizens do something that is a person-to-person contribution, I don’t think that we’re really going to have a place to come home to, if we do get jobs.”

Brando said he thought about making his “time, energy, and money” fully available “to do whatever I can as an individual to rectify the situation we’re in.”

Johnny Carson offers an observation rarely heard on cable networks, let alone a “talk” show - an observation we, nonetheless, have been all too familiar with. Maybe with Dr. King’s death, people will realize the “terrible” deed and things will change. Or maybe what is made conscious to all in that moment is what was to die with Dr. King. So, “maybe things won’t change.” (And this was late night television! How far have we fallen!).

I don’t think they will, Johnny.”

Brando continues: “I think that nothing is really going to change unless I do it. Unless the trombone player does it. Unless the guy sitting in front of his television with a beer can does something about it.”

He cites a “conservative” panel, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, assigned the task of finding out why Black people “can’t get off their knees.” The panel publishes a book, states Brando, pointing to the way white America “feels” or understands or responds to the presence of Black Americans.

There you have it, Brando said. The study “points to racism and discrimination in its most subtle forms and its most cruel and blatant forms.” He doubts, he adds, if one out of one hundred thousand Americans ever read the study, available as a paperback.

It isn’t enough to talk. It isn’t enough to shake our fingers. We have to do something. We have to give up our money. We have to give of our time. We have to give our hearts. Now that King is dead, many people are thinking of the violence to come.”

Brando said he spoke with Walter Reuther (labor organizer and justice activist), and the two talked about the one last chance “white people” have to turn things around in this country. And “if we don’t do it soon and if we don’t do it massively,” then expect Armageddon. It’s going to be guns, thousands of people killed, Brando stated, and it will be internment camps. “We would have reduced ourselves as a nation and as a people.”

Brando continues, “the only thing I could think of was to try and get a program where people would contribute no less than 1% of their entire year’s earnings to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was King’s organization, to further his philosophy, to further his works, to carry on his good works, in the name of non-violence and with the help of his beautiful wife, Mrs. King.”

Brando stated that he feared Black Americans were losing faith in white Americans ever treating them “equally and fairly.” Time is running out, he adds, and “I dread to think what’s going to happen.”

Again the host, Carson, offers an insight most Americans still refuse to acknowledge today. Yet, then, in 1968, Carson acknowledges what Americans refused to accept. “The more the other person benefits economically and socially, the more everyone benefits.” It benefits everyone. The more you help someone else, Carson said, the more you are helped.

Reuther, Brando said, agreed. It cost more money, said the labor leadership, to keep Blacks in the position they are in - at the bottom economically and socially - than it would to bring everyone up.

And Brando need not have witnessed the last four years, ten years, twenty. He notes what happens when people are lied to, when people have become “tired of being sick and tired.” “If we do nothing, people will become angrier and angrier.” Tension will follow frustration, and violence erupts. Black people are promised help and receive none. White Americans, in the meantime, withdraw. What remains in the center: “people with guns.”

I don’t know if for Brando or Carson, the people with guns are Black Americans. As I write this article, I’m clicking to follow the pro-Trump insurrection of predominantly white Americans in Washington D. C. Many have guns. They believe in the Second Amendment, if nothing else. They believe they have witnessed a fraudulent presidential election of 2020. Trump is cheering them on in his last days as president. Rioters, a mixed mob including, Proud Boys, Qanon, Oath Keepers, and MEGA supporters, climbing the walls of the Capitol Building, have pushed pass law enforcement and have reached the grounds of the Pavilion. There’s video! Americans watch other Americans breaching security, walking onto the National Statuary Hall, and walking themselves into the offices of the House of Representatives and onto the Senate floor.

Votes were stolen from them! A victory snatched away!

And why? Too many Black and people of color organized and voted!

Disenfranchisement of Blacks and people of color is the goal, even if the rioters never utter the word. I have heard a number of media commentators ask, what if these rioters were Mexican immigrants? Or Black Lives Matter activists calling for justice, as many did, rightly protesting after the murders of Arbery or Taylor or Floyd?

Those with guns, white Americans, will be okay, as they take over the Capitol. Those with guns who shot Jacob Blake, a white American, will be okay, as the justice system refuses to charge Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey of paralyzing a man he shot seven times in the back.

According to Rep. Linda Sanchez (D), California, she heard shots fired within the Capitol by the rioters…

We have one shot in the barrel,” Brando stated. “Time is running out.” Brando mentions the need to pass laws that would take time to come to fruition. In the meantime, Brando received commitments from prominent celebrities to contribute to SCLC. But even that’s not enough, he stated.

We have to ask ourselves, what is it when white Americans “beat” against Black people? “All of us have to find out, what is that? Why do we feel that way?

Most “racists,” Brando explains, and “I don’t mean Wallace” or someone like that, but ordinary white Americans, don’t know they are racists.

Whatever that is, we have to “root” it out!

I think Dr. Martin L. King would cheer Brando’s observations. Now, over fifty years later, after the Kenosha Attorney General ruling, after the January 6th, white-mob insurrection, how many Americans recognize the American problem is anti-blackness.

White supremacy! Editorial Board member and Columnist, Dr. Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels and BC.

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is published Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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