Those of us who have been around for a while (like since the 1960’s) often chuckle, to stop from frowning, when all this talk about post-blackness inundated the airwaves and social media. The young Generation X crowd that has “made it” in the system began denouncing the notion that being Black alone inhibited movement up the social and economic ladder. This denunciation took many different forms. Toure argued that post-blackness was a rejection of the idea that certain qualities were exclusive to Black people; Jonathan Capehart scowled at the idea that blackness can be defined. He claimed it never was a definable attribute. Pharrell Williams claimed that blackness was a state of mind and had nothing to do with pigmentation. In fact, Williams went as far as to create a new Black defined as someone “who doesn’t blame other races for our problems. Racism has vanished and it’s all in your head. Stop blaming other people for your shortcomings,” was his advice to Black folk.
Are these young brothers so blinded by their own success they can’t see that this country still suffers from the plague of racism, and we are no where near a post racial society. The historical thread of racism manifested through brutal attacks of young Black men still exists. We all remember the vicious murder of Emmit Till in 1955 and James Byrd in 1999. How about Amadou Diallo killed by the New York Police, also in 1999.
During the first decade of the new century the attacks continued. In 2000 a Black man, Patrick Dorismond, was shot and killed by the New York Police. Then on November 25, 2006 Sean Bell was shot and killed in Queens, the morning of the day he was to get married. In 2009, the New York Times ran a story about seven Black men in Miami, Florida killed within a span of eight months, and in that same year Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer in Oakland, California.
The trend continued into the second decade of this century. In January 2010 Aaron Campbell was shot dead by the Portland Oregon Police. Three months later, in March 2010, the Los Angeles Police shot and killed Eugene Washington. Police were not the only culprits who felt a need to murder our young. The most famous case to date was the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. His murderer, George Zimmerman, was exonerated the next year, signaling to the country that it is open season on our young boys.
Within the past two weeks, we have witnessed the killing of three more young Black men. John Crawford was shot and killed by a Dayton, Ohio police offer while holding a toy rifle inside at Wal-Mart Store, and Eric Garner suffocated while in the choke hold of a New York policeman. However, without a doubt the majority of the Black population has been up in arms for the past week with the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Adding to the tragedy of the Brown murder was the manner in which the police responded to the community’s protests with military style tanks aimed at the crowd and the lobbing of tear gas into the middle of the “animals,” the term used by a police officer when referring to the people in the crowd.
Given these statistics I question how anyone can believe that we are now in a post racial state of existence in this country. Those celebrities should publicly admit that their assessment of the conditions of many Black Americans is still very precarious, and that when they make such statements they do damage to our attempt to put an end to all the abuse our young still face, whenever they walk the streets of their neighborhoods.