Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oscar Grant, Police Violence and the War on Black Men

I have a new post up at Global Comment.  When I wrote it the officer who shot Oscar Grant had not been charged.  Today I learned that he has been arrested.

In the United States, there are more black men in prison than there are in college. There are racists that would attribute this phenomenon to the supposed “natural criminal instinct” of black masculinity. But to make such a determination it is necessary to divorce the ways in which racism is systemic. From childhood, we are socialized to equate racialized bodies with various nefarious acts. The black male is constructed as both hyper sexual and masculine. He is the rapist that all white women must fear, the thief that all store owners must be on their guard against, and finally the drug dealer and gang member that plagues police across America. The black male is constructed as the ultimate threat to civilization.

These beliefs have become ingrained and often stand as justification for the ways in which the penal system abuses and murders the black men that come under its jurisdiction. From the racist death penalty, to the black men that have been murdered in police custody, it is overwhelmingly clear that justice is not blind. Like any other social institution, much of its energy is spent in the maintenance of white hegemony. This is not news to blacks who have been forced to interact with law enforcement.

For generations within our communities we have been aware of the so-called suicides in prison cells, the beatings and bruises that lead to bloodied scabs. Our bodies have borne witness to police brutality in a way that the white bourgeoisie cannot even begin to fathom. When standing in your own driveway can constitute justification for an officer to discharge his weapon, where can a person of colour feel safe?

Rest of the article at Global Comment

No comments: