Political action, to be viable, has to be conceived and conducted by the people, for the people. -Sekou Toure’
…all of these inhuman atrocities have been inflicted upon us by the American governmental authorities, the police themselves, for no reason other than that we seek the recognition and respect granted other human beings in America.
The American Government is either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of your 22 million African-American brothers and sisters. We stand defenseless, at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are black and of African descent…
We have lived for over three hundred years in that American den of racist wolves in constant fear of losing life and limb. Recently, three students from Kenya were mistaken for American Negroes and were brutally beaten by the New York police. Shortly after that two diplomats from Uganda were also beaten by the New York City police, who mistook them for American Negroes.
If Africans are brutally beaten while only visiting in America, imagine the physical and psychological suffering received by your brothers and sisters who have lived there for over three hundred years.
– Malcolm X speaking at Organization of African Unity meeting in Cairo, Egypt July 17, 1964
I was reading an article in The Amsterdam News about the 50th anniversary of a speech Malcolm X delivered in July 1964 and could not help but see how his words still rang true today with all the recent acts of police criminality.
Some of you may be reading this may be saying to yourself, we have come a long way baby, my president is black. Ok so we are not marching for the right to vote or to sit where we want on a public bus, but two months ago Mt. Vernon residents, clergy and civil leaders marched for the city to maintain and restore a public park. The police are not blasting us with water hoses and releasing their dogs to tear us apart with their teeth anymore. That’s been replaced with death by the chokehold (Eric Garner), and illegal killing of blacks in their homes by the police (Kenneth Chamberlain and Ramarley Graham). These are just some of the recent crimes our people have suffered at the hands of the police. Jim Crow has been replaced with the ‘broken windows policy’ and the notorious and unconstitutional stop and frisk campaign. The commonality in the two troubled times in the urban, low income communities are the blatant acts of police criminality committed upon us by the very police officers hired to protect and serve us. You ever find yourself wondering, who will protect us from police.
The very words spoken by our slain leader, Malcolm X; “We stand defenseless, at the mercy of American racists who murder us at will for no reason other than we are black and of African descent…” could not be more appropriate for ‘we the people who are darker than blue’ as brother Curtis Mayfield put it.
While I too wanted to write and celebrate the 50th anniversary of brother Malcolm’s speech, but I’m left with the daunting task and talking about how we are still defenseless against those in blue who terrorize our community with no malice or fear of being punished, even when caught in video tape. Back in the Rodney King incident, 20-plus-years-ago, those officers didn’t know their crimes were being caught on tape. In the Eric Garner incident, knowingly being recorded wasn’t enough to prevent the NYPD from killing another brother. So tell me just how much has really changed since Malcolm uttered those words 50 years ago?