THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN CRISIS AND UNDER SEIGE

by Baba Eng

The normal human response is to come together to fight back in order to stop or resolve being in crisis and  under siege.

 The problem though is that we, as a people, have been under siege and in crisis for so long that the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism is so embedded that if we ain’t actually fighting or running we are freezing;  meaning that we just stand frozen and don’t do anything, like deer  caught in the headlights. The problem with that, of course, is that we know from experience that deer  end up in the back of pickup trucks, are left in the middle of the highway, or like other Black men , dragged behind or chased by pick-up trucks.

 We cannot let that be the outcome that continues to play out over and over again in Black communities across the country where Black men, women and even children are victimized by White folks abusing the authority given to them by systems and institutions that were not created to serve and protect Black people from the very beginning. Institutions like law enforcement that was born out of the plantation system in America, where their sole responsibility was to protect the interest of White owners of enslaved Africans, which meant that they had to keep Blacks terrorized and frightened into submission. We know that is the history and we have not taken steps to correct or change that institution since the Emancipation Proclamation and the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

 That seems to be why, on May 19, 2020, two White police officers from the Buffalo institution of law enforcement that is ostensibly headed by a Black police commissioner who reports to a Black Mayor, nevertheless, felt empowered to abuse the authority given to them by their uniforms  and terrorize a Black youth, Ali Akono,  in front of and on the property of his Black Father, Jomo Akono,  for no reason other than the fact that these were Black men in a Black neighborhood in the Black of night still doing the work of serving our community.

The fact that this was done on the Birthday of Malik El Hajj Shabazz, Malcolm X, notwithstanding, should be a wake up call, actually a clarion call, for the Black community of Buffalo New York; a call  to realize that the dynamics of racism and oppression have not let up because of the threat of COVID-19 that does not discriminate between Black or white, age or class.  Even  while we fight back against this virus we must also fight back and be prepared to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters, and our children who are under attack in our own communities. 

We must fight back by calling on our Mayor and our Police Commissioner to do what is right by not only disciplining these two officers, but by also initiating a department wide anti-racism training and counseling with follow-ups in Restorative Justice counseling and training by licensed and qualified Black professionals with track records of speaking truth to power.