By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
7.18.16: National – (Politics): Two young South Philadelphia boys two weekends ago were riding bikes and from their facial expressions, not a care in the world beset them. The duo was acting like kids should in their neighborhood: playing without fear of bodily harm from bullets or bullies.
That child-like carelessness, however, soon ceased from their faces as a familiar occupant of their reality showed up and unknowingly demanded of them a choice that they were unfortunately grown enough to make: should we continue to ride up, down and around our street because we are innocently playing outside on a nice day; or should we halt our glee, at least for the moment, because it could be mis-perceived as trouble-making by the police who just pulled over a vehicle nearby?
The boys, wise and aware and one of whom I instructed briefly when working as a music teacher, returned to their block and out of the view of the two Philadelphia police officers. It was clear to me that the two young South Philadelphians hadn’t been told by their parents what the Mayor of Philadelphia – who grew up on a small South Philly block similar to theirs – was told when he was a minor: when in trouble, seek out police officers, for they are the good guys.
For the boys on the bikes, the opposite seemed true: if wanting no trouble, avoid proximity with the ubiquitous police officer.
Afraid to move about freely in one’s neighborhood because of police’s perceived or real suspicion of your black or brown body… the feeling of being occupied by law enforcement… is among the many reasons Black Lives Matter, a decentralized non-violent racial justice movement, exist and grows.
Advocating for the murders of police officers, despite what was or is chanted by individuals during a few Black Lives Matter marches, is not, nor has it ever been, a mission or cornerstone of the grassroots organization. This fact, however, hasn’t been enough to deter pundits and media talking heads from – in the aftermath of the deaths of Mr. Alton Sterling, Mr. Philando Castile, the five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper and –gunned down by a Missouri man – demonizing the movement and labeling it a racist and terrorist organization; which is uber ironic because Black Lives Matter materialized to combat perceived or real terror by police officers who acted with the powers bestowed to them by a racist system that was constructed when Blacks were seen as less than human.
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The unyielding dishonesty and deflection by many citizens following the past violent week in America has been nothing short of heartbreaking; and the level to which some people have sunk, in misrepresenting or disregarding American history is offensive, reckless, and beneath a civilized and educated society that claims to desire racial harmony and peace.
Calling Black Lives Matter – which as a coordinated body has never plotted to threaten, dismember, lynch or kill anyone – a terrorist organization, belittles the trauma of many Americans who were legitimately terrorized by racist factions like the Ku Klux Klan, who seemed to have White America’s blessing when it was at its peak.
Questioning why Black Lives Matter needs to protest when all the facts of a particular officer-involved shooting haven’t been released is to ignore decades of instances wherein American police officers, who in addition to lying about the facts of an encounter on paperwork, have terminated and mishandled black life, again and again, with perfect impunity.
To assert that Black Lives Matter was built on a lie – the lie being that Mr. Michael Brown when killed by former Ferguson police officer Mr. Darren Wilson had his hands up in surrender – is to misrepresent the group’s origin, which was, in fact, birthed in the aftermath of Mr. Trayvon Martin’s death.
And, to say “All Lives Matter,” especially in America, is to deny the country its history of hate, exclusion, torture, racism and disregard for life. For example, no one who have dared yelled “All Lives Matter” in the late 1930s when the U.S. Public Health Service performed a syphilis study on poor black men – known widely as ‘The Tuskegee Experiment’ – and never treated those infected with penicillin, let alone inform those infected of their diagnosis.
I couldn’t imagine any political leaders suggesting “All Lives Matter” during World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the forced relocation and incarceration of more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry who had lived on the Pacific coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor; more than half of those detained were American citizens.
It’s hard to believe “All Lives Matter” when African people were enslaved and sold like stock by Americans.
When the Philadelphia Police Department in 1985 bombed a row-house and killed 11 men, women and children without consequence, not only didn’t all lives matter, but black lives damn sure didn’t matter.
And, it could be argued that in the 1980s, when Americans in large numbers were dying from AIDS and the U.S Government was slow to respond to the crisis, all lives didn’t matter then, either.
But what can’t be argued, at least not without appearing foolish and ignorant, is that America (or Americans), has always believed “All Lives Matter.” The opposite is, indeed, true, and that is why the world needs among its voices of resistance and remembrance, Black Lives Matter; not as a conduit for turning out the black vote or combating neighborhood violence, but as an inconvenient and uncomfortable reminder of the wretchedness that is American history and America’s present, and as loud, consistent voice challenging the country to live up to a core value: justice for all.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
About Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
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