The YouTube video clips showing how the white-American policemen shot Jacob Blake, a black man, are very troubling. They conjure all sorts of feelings of distaste; it is so troubling to see how Jacob Blake was shot seven times to his death, especially under the light of George Floyd who was killed in a similar manner, brutally murdered by white policemen just two months ago in Minneapolis. What made Policemen shoot Jacob Blake seven times to his death was a domestic brawl between Jacob and his wife Laquisha Booker. On Sunday 24th 2020, Jacob, a resident of Kenosha in Wisconsin, was having a tiff with his wife, when two white police men and one white police woman on patrol came in. They did not arrest Jacob; they only decided to orchestrate a brutal and extremely violent death on him. One of the policemen frog marched Jacob out of the house at gun-point and shot him under the full watch of the scared public, his wife and three children looking on. It was a brutal experience squarely testifying beyond doubt America’s bondage to inhuman culture of neurotic racism, racism which led the state of Wisconsin into days and days of prolonged deathly battles between the protesters and the sheriff managing the state of emergency in response to the highly charged mass protests calling for justice in respect of Jacob Blake.
But as if ‘black lives don’t matter,’ the American system of white supremacist politics has already yelled out another very troubling perspective of Jacob’s death in the insolent and irresolute nature of comment by Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin that ‘Jacob Blake is not the first black person to be shot dead by the law enforcers in Wisconsin and America.’ Governor Evers’ comment implies that it is not news to see a black person shot dead in America. It also implies that nothing big will happen to a white policeman shooting dead a black person. The world will pause and ask, ‘why is America killing its own people?’ ‘Why are the white policemen killing the black people?’ Aren’t the white Americans and black Americans both migrants to America? These are questions that have been asked years on and answered on several occasions by different speakers and writers in the likes of Alex Haley, Angelou Maya, Martin Luther King Jnr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, W. E. B. Du bois, Marcus Garvey and even the literary protagonists of racial justice by the likes of Richard Wright and Toni Morrison. However, I believe that it is still vogue to suggest that this is the time for Americans to accept one another and get civilised beyond the racially-motivated culture of gun violence on the black populations.
The above observation is fashionable in the sense that America is what it is because of the collective and individualised spiritual, physical as well as intellectual contribution by all the Americans, at most, the black people. This is in connection or disconnection with the historical experience of black slavery and post-slavery capitalist exploitation of the black people in America. What I mean is that America’s black labour is the key contributing force towards the social and economic greatness of America. The book, Step Across this Line, by Salman Rushdie has a lurid and very spine-chilling account of the death of Amadou Diallo who was shot seven times by the police after being mistaken for a dangerous criminal. Later on, the policemen involved in the error were never prosecuted. This is an exemplary revelation that those white Americans that kill the black people always make false claims that ‘the black people are a security threat.’ The truth in this age-long accusation has already been claimed by the impunity in America’s history of the gun terrorism on the black populations. However, the truth is that black Americans are not only a security threat, but they are also intellectual threats, political threats, military threats, corporate threats, religious threats, technological threats, aesthetic threats, athletic threats, theatre threats, music threats, and without forgetting to mention what Frantz Fanon said in his Black Skins, White Masks, ‘the American male Negroes are a sexual threat to white Americans.’ And who can tell, maybe Fanon’s diagnosis is the most logical explanation of the persistent culture of white Americans using state power to perfect the extra-judicial killings of their black brothers.
The killing of Jacob Blake has made me to realise that no one is listening to the words of Richard Wright that ‘racism listens.’ It is now evident that racism cannot listen. Hence, nations and inter-governmental organisations of today must not wear the blinkers on the fate on black Americans. We, the living people in the world today, must come out of our respective shells to condemn America’s political ideology of white-supremacist orientation. White American political leaders must stop supporting the culture of inspiring the white policemen killing black people. So far, political organisations like the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations organisations have not done anything tangible in respects to stopping racially-motivated police brutality on the black populations in America. An intergovernmental organisation like the United Nations must show the world its take on the dehumanising political experience in America where a white law enforcer shooting to kill a black man in an extra-judicial manner is no longer news in America. Proper inter-governmental political civilisation must disregard America’s sovereignty in regard to the endemic culture of American Police brutality on the black populations to have crimes under this context to be tried as crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. I believe such approach will help, but if only, it counts among other radical social transformations, institutional changes, international legislations and economic restructuring to enable balanced social development in America and across the world.
However, the above can only be social palliatives to the racial ills that ail America; the actual quantifiable solutions are a buck that stops at the social, political and economic table of the black people in America. For example, the revolutionary world would first salute the efforts of mass action displayed by all those that came out to protest in persistent demonstrations calling for justice in regard to the brutal deaths of Floyd and Blake. Also, the revolutionary technicalities readily persuades them to continue without wavering in their collective spirit in spite of the contradictions in form of the Ku Klux Klan inspired counter-actions perpetrated on them through implicit actions of the government of Donald Trump. This is not new. History of struggle for freedom as narrated by Nelson Mandela in his Long Walk to Freedom, testifies that in any serious revolution and struggle for liberation there must be those that bare the injuries and those that die in due course of the liberation struggle. But the ultimate outcome is always to have the living handing the future into the hands of the people. Thus, under this light, the greatest crime one can commit is to not work in support of the revolution when you have capacity to participate in it. This can somewhat look utopian, but it is justified utopia coming out as the obvious sequela to prolonged seasons of dystopia in which wallows the black people of America. Nonetheless, a careful diagnosis of the American social conditions supports the fact that the mathematics of politics justify the black populations of America to unite and struggle for their civil rights since, after all, their significant populations are un-impeachable abode of the significant density of democratic process in the political mass of American civilisation.
I don’t know how the future will judge me when I suggest that the fate of black people in America welcomes the world to accept the truth that weapons are also an extension of dialogue. I also believe it was under such like contexts that were evinced in the Chibok girls’ experience that Wole Soyinka justified to argue that ‘let the guns be demystified in Nigeria’ as a way of facilitating the Nigerian people to fight Boko-Haram and other terrorist groups. Hence, logic of extension in relation to the contemporary racist-guided conditions in the American police service will easily validate Soyinka’s thoughts as partial panacea to racially-motivated police terrorism on the black people in America. This is the time for the black people to demystify the gun and get themselves some guns for self defense in case of a neurotic white police man or police woman going amok on them. Yes, it is a cruel anarchist idea, but it works, given that the only effective way to deal with neurotic violence is counter-violence, not non-violence.
Recently a blogger from Kenya argued that ‘black lives will never matter unless they are economically liberated.’ This was not true. Human life is sacred; human life always matters without regard to material status. Only those who believe that a rich man has more value than a poor man can be tempted to believe that the poor black lives don’t matter. Such thinking can only be dismissed as bondage to misery of duality in materialism that is tempted to seek the dignity and sanctity of human life in artificialities that come along with material prosperity. The dialectical contrast which must be upheld socially dictates that the essence of human life is not to accumulate riches, but to make the earth peaceful and hospitable to human life as well as to plants, animals and other planets. The anthropomorphic physical as well as psychological cruelties that often accompany capitalist acquisition of private property in passionate adventure to perfect preservation of political tyrannies that subscribe to capitalism is technically a mega-scale social grandeur, global scale paranoid-like neurotic tendencies to exclude others from the providence and generosities of nature. It is a social misbehavior biblically condemned ‘as man dominates man at the cost of the dominated man.’
This does not mean that it is only the American state that has failed to be inclusive when it comes to diversity, gender and race, no. There are many other states doing the same, with Africa operating from the front lane. In fact a careful social examination of Africa readily reveals that Africa represents the world in an effortless match aimed at establishing this century as an era full of testimonies about capitalist democracy failing to care for the worker population; for example, in my country Kenya, it is now evident that evil machineries in form of police brutality, executive muffling of the parliament, politically instigated fear among the citizens, executive manipulation of the judiciary, judicial terrorism on politics of dissent, as well as state-facilitated economic witch-hunting against the voice of otherness, are now the main tools rampantly used by the executive to preserve dynastic capitalism in dictatorial tribal power. It is so discouraging to realise that Kenya is only a lesson that electoral democracies have an annoying tendency of evolving into dictatorships. What else can the people do other than accepting that it is only until Kenyans decide the way their brothers in Belorussia have decided to say ninety nine percent ‘NO!’ to Alexander Lukashenko, that Kenya’s course towards oligarchical dictatorship will be challenged or be reversed to a direction of good governance that appreciates social value of ethnic diversity in building any nation.
(Alexander Khamala Ernesto Namugugu Islam Opicho) is a poet, an essayist, a short story writer and human rights crusader from Kenya. His work has appeared in the Flinders University journal of Transnational Literature, Queer Africa II, Praxis Online Magazine, Lunaris Review, Kalahari Review, Buwa Journal, Agbowo Magazine, Kalahari Review, Homintern Magazine, Boda Boda Anthem, the Nairobi Law Monthly, the Awaaz Magazine, the Nairobi Management Magazine, the Saturday Nation, the East African Weekly, the East African Standard, the Business Daily, and the Uganda Weekly Monitor. He has also attended the East African Literary and cultural studies conference in Lalibella, Dar es Salam and Makerere. His literary eyes are focused on freedom for the powerless living in human diversity. He is a full time planter of eucalyptus trees with a target to hit one million stems. He teaches Conservational Biostatistics as a pastime.
DISCLAIMER ON THE “KILLING” OF JACOB S. BLAKE
Attention must be brought to the claim in this essay by Kenyan writer, Alexander Opicho, that Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year old African American male, was shot seven times “to his death.”
It should be noted, however, that Blake is alive and currently receiving treatment after suffering major body damage from the gun shots.
This is an editorial oversight, and we apologise for the misrepresentation. Kindly note.
November 7th, 2020.