By Rika Tyler and T-Dubb-O
TRICEEDNEYWIRE.COM – Some may say much has changed since our grandparents were boycotting in the streets of the U.S. during the Civil Rights era. Some new laws and policies did in fact give Black people some of the same civil liberties as other citizens in this country.
However, we are still being mentally enslaved, figuratively lynched, and discriminated against as if Malcolm, Martin, Fannie Lou, Rosa, and others never left their homes. The Charleston church shooting was another reminder that laws cannot change the hearts of men.
Similar to the infamous church bombing that left four Black girls slain, a young racist white male decided to go into a church during Bible study with the intent to kill Black people. Dylan Roof murdered nine Black people while having Bible study.
His reasoning was he wanted to start a race war. This showed the African-American clergy that are still on the fence during this critical time in America that even in your place of worship you are not safe from racism.
Racism cannot be abolished by a document. Murder is already illegal, but it seems to be totally moral and le-gal in some circumstances for law enforcement and others who murder, rob, and extort Black people at their will. Pictures from St. Louis during the Ferguson uprising were placed side by side with pictures from the ‘50s and ‘60s and you could not tell the difference between time frames in most pictures.
You see, a white police force armed with high powered rifles and dogs, facing off against unarmed Black people exercising their first amendment right to protest is not justice. Slavery was abolished on paper, but not in the minds and conditions of Black people.
No, we are no longer chained, whipped, forced to pick cotton, housed and fed by the “master”. But we are in-deed still slaves because our minds are now enslaved – enslaved to capitalism and classism.
The media portrays us as “thugs” all while it also controls the influence of how the Black dollar is spent. The plantation was substituted for a school to prison pipeline that is worth billions, and minimum wage work that gives you just enough money to feed, clothe, and house yourself for your hard labor instead of “master” having to do so.
There is a term that is used by Black revolutionaries in which we say, “KKK members traded in their hoods for badges, guns, and seats at political party tables.” So again we ask, are things really different now?
Every 28 hours a Black person is murdered by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante. To us, these are versions of a modern day lynching. Systematic oppression, predatory policing, and the war on drugs have replaced the Bull Connors of the South to keep Black people in “check”.
A lot of us may feel things have changed due to the fact we have a Black President, and a few successful Black people. They say if you work hard, speak properly, dress properly, follow the law, and basically deny your Blackness as much as possible you won’t be gunned down in the middle of the street by police and can make a survivable wage. Forget about the fact that your people were forced here, built this country, released with not a cent to their names, and told make something out of nothing.
One out of three Black men will go to prison in their lifetime. One out of three! That’s just in America. In the UK, there are more Black men in prison than there are in that entire country. We are not just discriminated against in the United States, but white supremacy and racism is a world-wide disease that ruins lives of Black families daily.
What separated Emmett Till from Trayvon Martin? The year is the main difference. Like George Zimmerman, Till’s murderers were also let off scott free. It’s like 1955 with Wi-Fi.
Black people were fully aware of their struggle during that time period. Today, we think we won something back then. We fail to realize the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King is still just a dream. Very few of the visions of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives to see us able to thrive and flourish have come to fruition.
We have been bamboozled by a few government-signed documents. The Confederate flag still waves proudly in many places. It symbolizes how we are still denied civil liberties daily. But, now we have a bunch of Black people who fail to realize their minds are still enslaved. If we don’t wake up now, we will never really get free.
T-Dubb-O, a Hip-Hop artist, is a director for Hands Up United, a grass roots organization building towards the liberation of oppressed Black, Brown and Poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy and agriculture.
Rika Tyler, a community organizer and advocate for children, is a program director of Hands Up United. She works to ensure programs are aligned to serving the community of Ferguson and the Greater St. Louis area.
This article is sixth of an op-ed series on behalf of the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform. The coalition, convened and led by the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is comprised of over 30 national civil and human rights organizations, faith and community leaders working to address the nationwide epidemic of police brutality and lethal shootings, claiming the lives of Black men, women and youth; and provide necessary reforms to change the culture of policing in America. For more information, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.