Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Power

I first started seeing this Black Power banner over the weekend. It was out front of  a well attended (by Blacks and Whites)  #dcferguson march in the US capital, one of many across the country, almost none of which made it onto newscasts, more of which are planned. Groups of protestors in Missouri shut down a big mall out there and in DC they shut down I-395, the part of the Capital Beltway system that goes through town, all of which was ignored by the mainstream media, as far as I cal tell.

It was surreal to listen to the National Public Radio morning news hour on my way back from Holbrook this morning. They mentioned none of it, nor did they mention the NFL players who came onto the field Sunday with the "Hands up/Don't shoot' symbol, which was started in the original Ferguson protests and has spread all over the world.

I wouldn't underestimate the significance of NFL players or other celebrity types joining in on national TV with the protesting of the gunning down in cold blood of young Black men. The St Louis Police Association didn't, quickly issuing a scathing condemnation and demanding the players be "disciplined," i.e., make them get back in their places. Celebrities, the people young people admire, can quickly legitimize something. I remember very well the effect it had on the kids at my high school when the Beatles came out against the Vietnam War. Until then in my small town in Michigan the patriotic view of the war -- "my country right or wrong" -- held sway, but the Beatles opposing the war made it OK for a lot of us to start taking another look at it and then to oppose it. 

The media though is trying to ignore the implications of the wider movement that has come out of Ferguson. NPR's coverage this morning consisted solely of some clips of interviews with some preachers in Ferguson, MO, most of whom sounded like they were from little storefront churches, and who, like the Al Sharpton/Democratic Party types, are irrelevant to the young Black people organizing and leading the protests, which are being attended by Blacks of all ages, especially women. But the listnership NPR is concerned with, their prime funders -- congress, corporations and affluent suburban housewives -- could begin their week with the illusion that the scary Black people are being subdued by peace and good will.

Not so. If you log onto Facebook or Twitter, it's the opposite. Especially young Black people are angry, and not beyond venting a little reverse racism.

I say "reverse racism." My grandparents weren't like that. Lumping a racial group together and ascribing to all of them the characteristics of a few is racism, one facet of it anyway.

It's a little disturbing to me to see this going on amongst young Blacks, until I stop and consider the context of it all, and then it's very understandable. But many people don't stop and consider anything. The Black Power movement of the 1970s upset enough people, and enough people in high places enough, that the FBI was unleashed on its most visible and probably most important face, the Black Panthers, and the FBI, working with local police in Chicago and then Los Angeles, murdered almost the entire leadership of the Black Panther Party.

Whose crime, besides feeding breakfasts to inner city kids and helping senior citizens pay their rent and fix things in their apartments, was to raise consciousness among Black people, and other young people, too. To get them out of their complacent ways of thinking and get to them believe in the power they have. Like the power to shut down a busy expressway or to shut down a mall. The power to do who knows what. Maybe to change things. Power they are beginning to realize they have once again.

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