Saturday, November 29, 2014

Renowned pianist, composer, arranger, teacher, and ensemble leader GERI ALLEN (b. June 12, 1957) is featured from November 29 to December 5, 2014 in SOUND PROJECTIONS, AN ONLINE QUARTERLY MUSIC MAGAZINE


I hope you enjoyed the fourth week issue (November 22-28) of SOUND PROJECTIONS, the new online quarterly music magazine which features the extraordinary work, art, and life of the legendary musician, composer, singer, songwriter, and cultural icon Jimi Hendrix. Week #5 begins TODAY on Saturday, November 29, 2014 @10AM PST which is @1PM EST. The featured artist for the upcoming week (November 29-December 5) is the outstanding and internationally renowned pianist, composer, arranger, teacher and ensemble leader Geri Allen.  So enjoy this week’s musical entry in SOUND PROJECTIONS, the online music magazine and please pass the word to your friends, colleagues, comrades, and associates that the magazine is now up and running at the following site.  Please click on the link below: 

Thanks.  For further important details please read below...

Sound Projections

A sonic exploration and tonal analysis of contemporary creative music in a myriad of improvisational/composed settings, textures, and expressions. 

Welcome to Sound Projections

I'm your host Kofi Natambu. This online magazine features the very best in contemporary creative music in this creative timezone NOW (the one we're living in) as well as that of the historical past. The purpose is to openly explore, examine, investigate, reflect on, studiously critique, and take opulent pleasure in the sonic and aural dimensions of human experience known and identified to us as MUSIC. I'm also interested in critically examining the wide range of ideas and opinions that govern our commodified notions of the production, consumption, marketing, and commercial exchange of organized sound(s) which largely define and thereby (over)determine our present relationships to music in the general political economy and culture.

Thus this magazine will strive to critically question and go beyond the conventional imposed notions and categories of what constitutes the generic and stylistic definitions of 'Jazz', 'classical music', 'Blues', 'Rhythm and Blues', 'Rock 'n Roll', 'Pop', 'Funk', 'Hip Hop' etc. in order to search for what individual artists and ensembles do creatively to challenge and transform our ingrained ideas and attitudes of what music is and could be.

So please join me on this ongoing visceral, investigative, and cerebral quest to explore, enjoy, and pay homage to the endlessly creative and uniquely magisterial dimensions of MUSIC in all of its guises and expressive identities.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Geri Allen  (b. June 12, 1957):  Renowned pianist, composer, arranger, teacher, and ensemble leader


WINTER, 2014

VOLUME ONE                                      NUMBER ONE


Featuring the Musics and Aesthetic Visions of:
November 1-7

November 8-14

November 15-21

November 22-28

November 29-December 5

December 6-12

December 13-19

December 20-26

December 27-January 2

January 3-January 9

January 10-January 16

January 17-23

*[Special bonus feature: A celebration of the centennial year of musician, composer, orchestra leader, and philosopher SUN RA, 1914-1993] 
January 24-30


This is a quarterly magazine which means that each individual issue will appear every three months following the first issue on November 1, 2014 and that four issues will constitute the completion of one volume (Volume 1, Numbers 1-4). Twelve (12) artists will be featured during each quarter. In this design template this means that one artist will be featured per week for 12 weeks beginning with the first issue on November 1 and thus continuing for three months until the second issue appears on February 1, 2015. Thus each subsequent issue will repeat the cycle with 12 new artists featured for each quarter. The photo in the middle of the page (in the first issue it is Miles Davis) constitutes the cover image for the magazine for that quarter and this image changes every three months with each subsequent issue. What follows is the weekly schedule for each artist in volume one, number one that runs from November 1, 2014 to January 23, 2015 with the second round of new artists appearing in the February 1, 2015 issue (volume one, number two):

CECIL TAYLOR November 8-14
STEVIE WONDER November 15-21
JIMI HENDRIX November 22-28
GERI ALLEN November 29-December 5
HERBIE HANCOCK December 6-12
SONNY ROLLINS December 13-19
JANELLE MONAE December 20-26
GARY CLARK, JR. December 27-January 2
NINA SIMONE January 3-January 9
ORNETTE COLEMAN January 10-January 16
WAYNE SHORTER January 17-23

SUN RA 2014 Centennial  January 24-30

Rayfield Waller On the Death of His Mother And The Social Death of the United States

City of Children:  Why Ferguson Will Have Little to No Impact on America’s Conscience
by Rayfield A. Waller
The Panopticon Review

Photos:  Officer Darren Wilson's .40 caliber automatic revolver that Wilson used to murder Michael Brown and Black Elitist Avatar, Bill Cosby

"Negroes have always held the lowest jobs, the most menial jobs, which are now being destroyed by automation. No remote provision has yet been made to absorb this labor surplus. Furthermore, the Negro's education, North and South, remains, almost totally, a segregated education. And, the police treat the Negro like a dog."
--James Baldwin, 1966

7AM-- 28 November, 2014 - Detroit
My mother died this morning. An annoying if well-meaning nurse at the rehab center Mother spent her last year in prattled yesterday that Mother was about to ‘transition,’ and offered to provide my sisters and I with ‘grief counseling’ while passersby in the hallway called her death a ‘home going’.

Just a week ago I spent my last hour with Mother on the last completely lucid day she lived. It was difficult to hold a conversation with her by then; she was only speaking in whispers, with bouts of irrationality and memory loss.

“Are you feeding my cat at the house?” she kept asking me, and I kept gently reminding her that her cat, Mitzi, is no longer ‘at the house’ that mother left empty as her illness progressed, but that Mitzi lives with me now, and is eating regularly.

I mentioned to her that I was trying but was unable to write something about the young man who’d been killed in Ferguson. “Which one is that?” she asked. She had a television on in the room nearly 24 hours but she had not noticed the news reports. “A Ferguson, Missouri cop named Darren Wilson isn’t going to face any charges for killing an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown,” I told her, and she then whispered to me secret—something I had long suspected or maybe just felt in my bones.

“They can do us any way they want to, the police, and they always made me feel like trash. They were always looking at me, talking to me, touching me.”

“Touching you? Who!? The police?” I asked her, shocked. “Yeah,” she whispered, matter-of-factly, focusing on me with a look almost of accusation, as if to draw my attention to what a fool I must be. “I had good hair in high school, you know,” she said. Indeed, she had been a very beautiful young woman in her teen years—looking like a cinema idol, like Lena Horne. “I was light skinned, and pretty. That was why I loved your father. He was dark skinned, strong, and he could protect me.”

A dozen lights went off in my head at hearing this. It didn’t seem she was talking about having been raped by the police, but rather something in some way more insidious: that she had spent her youth, under segregation, feeling eternally at risk of rape; that she had perhaps even been physically mistreated, pushed around, maybe even fondled by them. I could get her to say nothing more about it. She merely shook her head disdainfully, whispering, “I’d kill ‘em all if I could. They can do us any way.” She then went back to her whispered talk about how I should arrange the little windowsill Christmas decorations I had brought for her.

It had always been in the back of my mind: why my mother in the years of my childhood had been so strangely detached, lacking in many of the typical characteristics of ‘motherhood’. She never learned to cook very well, she was never very affectionate toward us; her love had an edge of spite to it, a coldness that both toughened me and left me wanting affection and attention—two classic drivers that have motivated so many artists, writers, pimps and stand-up comedians to seek an audience or a customer base for whom to perform their art. The benefits of neurosis.

My mother had for years been a shut-in, even when healthy; after my father’s death she had retreated into a world of her own—spoiled by me and my sisters, conceited, self-absorbed, allowing herself to physically degenerate by refusing to push herself, refusing to socialize with other senior citizens. She had the air of a deposed queen. My father had been her king, her entire kingdom made of his lifelong catering to her every serious need and passing whim. It had been hard for me to fill those shoes once he had died. Many times over the decade since his death I have joked that I wish I could dig him up and slap his face for the monster he created of my mother. If not for her flight from reality and from daily struggle after he’d died, her fight with cancer might have been an easier one: she refused to do the necessary physical therapy after cancer surgery that might have strengthened her enough to do chemo therapy, and had she done chemo, it might have saved her life.

But now I was considering for the first time what must lie beneath my mother’s (and my father’s) strange behaviors. My mother’s family, light skinned, fine haired, half Choctaw from Alabama, had not taken kindly to Mother marrying into a dark skinned, broad nosed, though solidly middle-class Waller family full of distinctly Mandinka descended men, the mirror opposite of the somewhat yellow and ‘Dapper Dan’ haired men on my mother’s side. All my life my parents had been almost sickly sweet on one-another, at times even besotted with their devotion. Even during periods of conflict, several separations (but never a divorce), and even when paired off with other partners and lovers, the gravitational attraction between them would always draw them back together.

During my father’s slow degeneration and death in a nursing home my mother dutifully visited him regularly, washed his clothing, fed him by hand, and sat talking to him hour after hour, just as he had brought her offerings of food almost nightly after work, even though they no longer lived under the same roof. I recall an old photo of them just after marrying, before children. The contract between his muscular blackness and her lithe, vivid yellow beauty is arresting.

Despite all my degrees, my being a professor of history, and despite all I certainly know of America’s crimes against us, still I was brought up short by this casual, whispered voice of reality from my terminally ill mother; this reminder of just how rank and ugly America’s treatment of us has been, and that all of us have been touched by it, if not personally, than through the inheritance of pain and humiliation our own parents and grandparents have suffered.

The bitterness and the hurt that I heard in my Mother’s whisper for that moment could have lit the dark side of the moon. Of course she was in love with my father. My father’s own seething resentment of white supremacy during my childhood made him an apt protector of us all. He once tossed an offensive White insurance salesman off the front porch like so much potatoes in a sack, partly because he had leered at my mother—a sharp and clear memory of my childhood, but the meaning I now realize, may have been lost on me: I came to know my mother and father in the 1970s—my earliest coherent memories of them—during a time of uproar and of protest; a time when Black power was giving efficacy and a voice to my family and to all the adults around me.

But my parents did not come into existence in the 1970s. They were both born in the 1930s just after the grip of the depression had released my grandparents but while lynching, violence, and the most horrifying brutality was still legal or at least permissible in the United States. Even after the two sides of my family migrated North, the more urbane forms of brutality and threat to Black life and limb lived on in the occupational forces that terrorized Black men and women in the cities: the police.

Of course my mother, beautiful, intelligent, gifted (she might have been a great visual artist had she not been born Black in Detroit, and the consensus among her family and friends were that she would certainly have been a famous model or an actress), made a choice early in her life to be SAFE rather than to risk disapproval or worse yet, too much attention from Whites. Of course my mother retreated into the strong Black arms of my father, retreated from risk, from the world of Whites, retreated even from her own beauty and genius, and though she forever regretted not becoming an artist, contented herself with being safe.

We live in a country that prides itself on memory loss, on repression of real feeling and thought.

On the morning before she died, I was inundated by many of the medical workers, surrounding patients who’d made friends with Mother, nurses, and other people around me with the kind of psychic dissonance that is common in the presence of imminent death. Losing my mother was bad enough without having to also endure the hardship of maudlin American folkways and platitudes. In the United States the bourgeois language of death is a presumptuous syntax whose vocabulary of clichés is often thrown like so many bric-a-bracs at our heads. I am only at the start of the ritual, for I still have the indignity of selecting a final overpriced catafalque and an ignominious hole in the ground, with a funeral as the necessary linking verb. Having begun in the death room itself yesterday the spectacle will now move to a wake and a funeral, ending with a gathering of strangers posed as family at some agreed-upon grave site somewhere under the dubious, soothing anointing of a priest or minister or a rabbi. All of them, earnest as they will be, able to  say nothing that can fill a void in us as easily as the void of the grave will straightaway be filled by a narrow box.

This ritual response to death may comfort some, but on the day of Mother’s departure from me it all seems insultingly mollifying to anyone who must endure death or witness it happening to loved ones. It is meant to garble our emotional responses to a primal experience of pain when the beloved is torn from us. Death after all is humanity’s most dreaded consummation, father of a hundred thousand poems, threnodies, and Kaddishes of lament. Like war and childbirth, death is one of the universal terrors implicit in the rite of adulthood. If one is inclined to this, it must be comforting, I suppose, but if not so inclined it seems an insult to have one’s proper adult grief sullied by clumsy rituals or superstitious folkways meant to blunt the reality of the finality of separation. “My mother,” I snapped at a rehab worker, is not ‘going home,’ she is going off into oblivion.” It is I’m sure, just that; the same oblivion we are all bound for and that rounds our lives into a perfect circle from somebody’s womb (the mother I’ve lost) to everyone’s  tomb (Mother Earth), and I’m fine with that—if people would just stop prattling and leave me alone with my grief. It was a cruel thing to say to the innocent but it was the only way to make the nurse leave me alone. She later wheeled into the death room a cart laden with ‘Chips Ahoy” cookies, graham crackers, and a carafe of coffee for me, my sisters, and my two brothers in law.

I later apologized to her. Suffer the children, right?

As I said, this is a country that renounces deep reflection or critical analysis of any sort, and in which not even many Black people will face the actual scars we all carry of a real history of brutality and exploitation meted out even against our families’ older generations. Far less likely are White liberal TV news analysts or White policy makers or elected official to look honestly at the balk the Negro carries and see their own Anglo identity and their own possible future, or see their own European Ethnic grandparents’ perhaps too-shameful past as refugees rousted from their shtetls,  ghettos, forest encampments, villages, and peasant shanties across Europe, to be cast afloat on a desperate journey to New York Harbor and packed like cattle onto Ellis Island to have their ethnic names scoured and sanitized via Anglicizing them, next to  be processed like so much chum, before flooding into the tenement kingdoms of early twentieth century industrial America that surely then and does now have a plan for them and for making a profit off of them.

Not even those who are proclaiming their identification with the murderers of Michael Brown and of Trayvon Martin (Trayvon’s killer himself a son of a Cuban immigrant and a white American) can or do honestly confront the actual inner lives of their own grandparents. Not every TV yawping head is a Dave Zirin; too many are cut rate Sean Hannitys who’ve conveniently forgotten their Irish immigrant roots. We are living out the myth of Sisyphus. No progress ever can nor ever will be made in terms of race, because we are constitutionally unable to face the original crime of race in America: the Transatlantic Corporate Slave Trade and the human chattel industry it nurtured; the settling of North America by the clearing project of genocide against Native peoples followed by the multi-BILLION Pounds Sterling and American Greenbacks in primitive accumulation through slave labor (a model for later industrial and current service industry WAGE SLAVE LABOR) that literally built an entire continent, cleared the woodlands, harrowed and excavated the mineral wealth of the wounded Earth, established an agricultural base, then founded a new industrial power, with its attendant continental infrastructure of roads, bridges, waterways, ports, railways, and highways. All of these things were either constructed literally by captured African labor or by the wealth produced by captured African labor.

All the putrid, red herring debates going on now in the media over whether or not Michael Brown struck Darren Wilson about the face until he was blushed, rushed at Wilson, attacked him, whether or not Mike reared up ‘like hulk Hogan’, like ‘a demon’ or mighty beast and roared, sending shards of fear through the poor defenseless (except for his .40 caliber automatic service weapon) cop who in his raw, gut wrenching terror at Giant Negro Mike’s superhuman monstrosity had no choice but to shoot him repeatedly until dead, are absurd and typical avoidance of the point. What if Mike did rush headlong into certain death (after all, even Hulk Hogan himself would have been put down by several shots from a 40 caliber automatic)? What if Mike, like me with my mother’s nurse, like you stopped on your own doorstep by the cop who doesn’t believe you really live in your house, or like hundreds of thousands of other Black men in America, felt on that day that he was tired of being tall, hefty, strong, but restrained by the social conditions he lived under? Or, what if he was just like so many other young Black men—like the hundreds of young Black men I have seen in my university course, who are full of testosterone and energy and frustrated force and who lacked good judgment since after all, he was just a mannish CHILD despite his physiogamy? Likely if he had lived he’d have been a child tried as an adult for assaulting a police officer. Since he’s dead, it is his murderer, an adult, who seems right now to be going through public trial as a child. Again, Americans would rather preoccupy their public discourses with potboilers, spectacle, lurid gossip, thrillers, and titillation rather than the history of repression and containment by occupational forces posing as police, who, in the case of Darren Wilson LITERALLY ‘demonize’ our children as beasts.

How does history square with Darren Wilson’s apparently unconscious, overt appeal to Black male ‘brute’ mythologies? His rankly racist testimony to the grand jury he sat before, the transcripts of which are now available but whose shockingly primitive, backward leaning, old 1800’s anthropological racism few news outlets other than MSNBC and few commentators other than Dave Zirin have the willingness or the intelligence to directly comment on, was sprinkled heavily with classic, absurd claims of feeling ‘like a child under attack’ by the supposedly hulking, brutish, superhumanly mighty beast-like assault of an unarmed young Black male whose very Blackness was and is a deadly weapon requiring the use of deadly force to mitigate or to subdue.

The childlike non-response of media, of average folks on the street, of commentators, and slack-jawed, slack-minded politicians betrays just how underdeveloped Americans are intellectually, at this point in American devolution.America is more like an enormous city than a country. Burgeoning, low-brow, and petty, this glorified city. Every state has the same stores, the same eateries, the same non-news stories, the same fondling of shop-worn myths and lies, the same retreat into nostalgic, self-protective racism deployed by Anglos who wish to guard against looking at their own oppression under late capitalism, via the tactic of demonizing Blacks and Latinos. There is in city to city the same meandering, illiterate retreat into ferocious consumerism by young American Blacks who desperately want to guard against the daunting task at hand, which ought to be their historical imperative to continue their grandparent’s legacy of freedom struggle. Each state, like a glorified neighborhood in a city, is populated by the same people—the smug but fragile middle classes, the beat down though still struggling working classes--some of whom manage gamely to keep the union movements and anti-foreclosure movement afloat, the sold-out, cynical elder Black opportunists whose avatar, we now see, must have always been alleged rapist, Bill Cosby—the 60 and 70-something Blacks who once waged a civil rights struggle but who now recline on the residual economic benefits bled for by the masses but now accrued by a Colored elite. The same things coast-to-coast, the same people, many of them thinking and doing the same things, believing the same lies. One might think there is no originality or creativity left to the place—it’s like a great big mean spirited mall.

But last week Mother had these words for me also: she told me as I was about to leave that she loved the Christmas decorations I’d tediously arranged for her under her whispered direction. “That’s so beautiful. I like beautiful things. I wish I could give you something.”

I kissed her forehead and smiled down at her. “You gave me a childhood, Mother,” I said, “And from that I made myself an adult.”

This is the challenge of this glorified city, city of children that is America. We won’t learn anything at all from this latest destruction of a young Black life, but mark these words, you’ve heard them before: when we finally embrace who and what we all really are and where we came from, when it becomes just as routine for young Anglo lives to be destroyed with impunity by a barbaric, militarized police force, the lesson will suddenly become quite clear. That and only that will mark childhood’s end in this petty little city we call America.

Where ever you are now, Bessie Lee Dukes-Waller, I love and thank you for the life you gave to me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MICHAEL BROWN, the St. Louis Grand Jury, and the rest of us--“Remember, everything that Hitler did in Germany was legal”--(statement by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“We are a nation of laws so we must accept the Grand Jury’s decision (in the Michael Brown case).”     
        --President Barack Obama                                               
“The black man has no rights that the white man need respect.”
  —Judge Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
(on behalf of the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford)
“Remember: everything that Hitler did in Germany was legal”
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, become as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

—Ella Baker

“Slavery was legal, Jim Crow apartheid was legal, denying black people the right to vote was legal, denying women in general the right to vote was legal, banning and/or destroying labor unions was legal, child labor was legal, putting the indigenous population (i.e. “Indians”) in concentration camps…er, I mean “reservations” was legal, lynching was legal, residential segregation was legal, denying black people access to housing, restaurants, schools, theaters, department stores and public transportation was legal, denying black people the right to read and write was legal, raping black women and then forcing them to have children by white men was legal, killing, torturing, arresting, and imprisoning black men for pursuing romantic or sexual liaisons with white women was legal, assaulting and even murdering black people in general—especially if those assaults and murders were committed by white males—was legal, and excluding immigrants of color from entering this country was legal. So my question is this: Given these indisputable facts established by legal statue and custom in the United States what exactly does President Obama mean when he robotically keeps uttering the patently absurd and cowardly phrase “we are a nation of laws”?…”
—Kofi Natambu

FACT:   The Grand Jury was comprised of 9 whites (six men and three women) and 3 blacks (two women and ONE MAN).  Only 9 votes were required from the Grand Jury to either indict or not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.  Guess what happened….
Consider the utterly predictable and openly racist contempt plus the snide and thoroughly smug condesencion shown for black people in general tonight by the notorious white supremacist St. Louis District Attorney  Robert McCullough (who was allegedly “prosecuting” this case) in announcing the decision of his overwhelmingly white Grand Jury NOT to indict the white Officer Darren Wilson who wantonly murdered Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black male and then left his body to rot in the street like a dead dog for over five hours (in all Wilson took 12 shots at Brown, two in the police car before Brown fled on foot and then 10 more shots as Brown stopped in the street and turned around hitting him six times in the process) what does all this tell us about this country and most importantly WHO WE ARE AS CITIZENS AND HUMAN BEINGS IN IT?  Of course you already knew the answer to this question long before either Michael Brown or his parents or his grandparents or great grandparents were even born.  It’s called AMERICAN HISTORY...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RE: Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, Robert McCullough, Ferguson, Missouri, the Criminal Injustice System, White Supremacy, and President Obama" --WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?


These are some things we ABSOLUTELY know for sure thus far:

1) Officer Darren Wilson is a LIAR, a RACIST and A MURDERER

2) District Attorney Robert McCullough is a LIAR a RACIST, and a CRIMINAL who has officially aided and abetted the MURDER of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson

3) President Obama is a straightup COWARD when he persists in simply condemning the violence of some in response to this criminal verdict of no indictment of Darren Wilson and NEVER ONCE condemns the relentless, sustained, and ongoing violence of white police officers and various racist vigilantes in the vile murders of black citizens not only in Ferguson but throughout the country or the institutional support of the heinous criminal (in)justice system generally in its pathologically white supremacist “handling” of these crimes against African American citizens and especially black youth



Being Black: The Real Indictment in Ferguson and the USA
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
By William C. Anderson,
Truthout News Analysis


Being Black: The Real Indictment in Ferguson and the USA
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Truthout News Analysis

"The police are not going to be "fixed" - and hiring Black police officers is a naive solution. We live in a time where we have a Black president, a Black attorney general and a Black head of homeland security. Their Blackness doesn't win them respect for their dedication to the standards of the status quo, nor does it serve Black people as a means of liberation. We are still caught in the confines of permanent exile in the only place we have known as home. Discussions of historical Black struggles are presented as if the war is over. We discuss segregation and discrimination as if they are things of the past, while the present mocks us.

The police state in its current form is a protectorate of White supremacy. Black people are increasingly feeling that calling the police is never a good idea. However, this is not a new sentiment; it's a very old one. What does it mean to us as a nation that Black people do not feel comfortable using an emergency service? At our most vulnerable and scary times, we are silenced by the fact that those who are supposed to shield us see us as targets. How is Jim Crow a thing of the past, when, still, we can never be truly safe?"

Now that the grand jury has returned with their decision on the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown, we should be reminded that even though Darren Wilson was not indicted, Blackness was certainly indicted by the grand jury.

Darren Wilson is free and the police continue to be empowered to kill with impunity. Blackness was found guilty yet again, as witnessed by the many Black slain and their stories. The color some of us carry around can exact a death sentence at a moment's notice. Ever since the formation of the world's greatest empire, Black people have been the eternal scapegoat for all that's been wrong. Our blood waters the roots of war.

There is nothing that can be expressed but grief, anger and frustration at the depraved patterns of this consistently immoral farce that calls itself the "criminal justice system." Kill the Black body and then blame the corpse. This happens repeatedly. Anything is a good excuse to kill a Black person. In Michael Brown's case, stolen cigarillos were worth his death. In 12-year-old Tamir Rice's death this week, it was his unmarked toy gun. And recently, Tanesha Anderson's mental illness made her death worth a violent killing in front of her own family. No matter what, the dead Black body is at fault.

The United States was born out of an incident where a Black man was victim blamed for his murder. It was the Black blood and "mad behavior" of Crispus Attucks that led founding father John Adams to defend the beguiled crown when Attucks was the first American shot down leading up to our nation's birthing revolution. What was his defense of the British patrols overzealous policing? Adams uttered words that would cement our ever-present pattern, stating it was the fault of Attucks "whose very looks was enough to terrify any person." Two hundred and forty-four years after the moment that sparked the fight for independence, we are still dealing with this type of thinking.

It was enslaved Africans that led to the declarations of immediate causes for Southern secession and a civil war. It's the loss of Black labor that requires we remember the Alamo. Yet and still, it is Black blood that stirs the movements of the internal war we are facing at this very moment. Black people do not cause the conflict; we are the conflict. We ignite the grips of fear with our very presence and strike first at oppression, even with our backs turned. Our freedom, in life and death, pulls at the reins steering us into predestined Black guilt, assumed criminality. The determination to be seen as human is a never-ending struggle.

There is something hauntingly ironic in all of this. A grand jury whose term was set to expire on September 10, 2014, made the decision about Darren Wilson. A grand jury that is 75 percent White and made up of 12 people "selected at random from a fair cross-section of the citizens." It seems insulting when about two-thirds of Ferguson's residents are Black. Alas, this is our system. An imposed state of emergency was declared based on the fear of protesters' reactions to the grand jury decision. This means the National Guard was activated and police forces were operating under high alert as a precaution in preparation. The Department of Justice has expressed frustrations that this move by the governor escalated the situation unnecessarily. If anything, the only emergency is Blackness itself. The directive issued by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is also set to eventually expire. It should be clear, though, that White supremacy does not expire. That being said, we should be having conversations about how we address the new manifestations that will inevitably arise.

The police are not going to be "fixed" - and hiring Black police officers is a naive solution. We live in a time where we have a Black president, a Black attorney general and a Black head of homeland security. Their Blackness doesn't win them respect for their dedication to the standards of the status quo, nor does it serve Black people as a means of liberation. We are still caught in the confines of permanent exile in the only place we have known as home. Discussions of historical Black struggles are presented as if the war is over. We discuss segregation and discrimination as if they are things of the past, while the present mocks us.

The police state in its current form is a protectorate of White supremacy. Black people are increasingly feeling that calling the police is never a good idea. However, this is not a new sentiment; it's a very old one. What does it mean to us as a nation that Black people do not feel comfortable using an emergency service? At our most vulnerable and scary times, we are silenced by the fact that those who are supposed to shield us see us as targets. How is Jim Crow a thing of the past, when, still, we can never be truly safe?

Mariame Kaba recently reminded us that though the indictment of Darren Wilson was symbolically important, it would not dismantle the system. She goes on to offer her personal examples to fight oppressive policing, writing:

I vocally and actively oppose any calls for increased police presence as a response to harm in my community and in my city. At budget time, I pay attention to how much money is allocated to law enforcement. I press my local elected officials to oppose any increases in that amount and to instead advocate for a DECREASE in the police department's budget. I support campaigns for reparations to police torture [and] violence victims. I support elected civilian police accountability councils and boards (knowing full well that they are [Band-Aids]). I believe that we need grassroots organizations in every town [and] city that document and publicize the cases of people who have suffered from police violence. These organizations should use all levers of power to seek redress for those victims and their families.

This is a bare minimum when the police are still active in hate groups as we saw in Florida earlier this year. (If Anonymous' operation to expose the KKK reveals anything, I doubt Black America will gasp.) White supremacists are attracted to the police force and military. Those who have felt the brunt of their terror have always been aware of this. And in the Black community, police terror has always conveyed the structural oppression of White supremacy, a force that outweighs the narrative of one "bad cop." We live the realization that "you cannot indict White supremacy" - and embody the stress that comes with that.

Black people around the country have watched as Ferguson is flooded with our emotions and frustrations, with our family and friends protesting. We have heard the lies of figureheads and politicians, lies that echo the message of the nonexistent use-of-force report on Michael Brown's death.

Even as we awaited this indictment decision, Darren Wilson was rumored to be negotiating about resigning from the force.

Ferguson is the reminder that we will never be satisfied and many are still prepared to fight. The heart of Blackness is in this debacle, and in this spirit of resistance.

Ferguson is not about how Black people feel about Darren Wilson; it's about how this country feels about Black people. And until this country understands what Black people are protesting regarding our dead, things will only grow worse. If the demand for our humanity continues to be unresolved, I don't see why things should ever "quiet down."

The burden of restoring silence and peace over the sounds of injustice this country screams in our ears is not on us. Over time, whether Black people have protested with their hands up or with their fists, the message is clear: We know you're scared of us but we're not going to live scared of you.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

William C. Anderson

William C. Anderson is a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @williamcander.

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No Indictment for Darren Wilson, No Justice for Black Lives
by Mychal Denzel Smith
November 24, 2014
The Nation
Ferguson, Missouri, November 24, 2014 (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

It has now been announced that Officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted on criminal charges for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. But the writing has been on the wall as well, and on the bodies of protesters who have demanded justice. No one I talked to while in Ferguson believed there would be an indictment. No one I spoke to could bring themselves to trust that the system that killed Michael Brown would care about his life now. All that I spoke to were prepared to continue this fight.

Because even if Wilson had been indicted, true justice would not have come to Ferguson, St. Louis, Missouri or America. It would have meant one cop being tried for the death of one black boy in one town. Wilson’s indictment would not have prevented the deaths of Kajeime Powell, Vonderrit Myers, Tanesha Anderson, Tamir Rice or Akai Gurley. Only a lasting justice that values black life is capable of that.

But what is justice in a nation built on white supremacy and the destruction of black bodies? That’s the question we have yet to answer. It’s the question that shakes us up and makes our insides uncomfortable. It’s the question that causes great unrest.

There is fear in that word, “unrest.” It’s become synonymous with violence. But it is unrest that put Michael Brown’s name into our consciousness, and it is unrest that his kept his memory alive. Unrest is the key to justice.

Protesters in Ferguson should not be calm, as they have been admonished by everyone from the president on down. Michael Brown doesn’t need calm. Black boys and girls who grow up in America need their lives to be respected. They need justice.

Read Next: Chase Madar on “Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop.”

The Assault on Young Black Life Extends Beyond Ferguson
by Dani McClain
November 25, 2014
The Nation 

A makeshift memorial for Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, August 19, 2014 (Reuters/Joshua Lott)

Soon after police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, I wrote that the killing of black youth is a reproductive justice issue that should be taken up by progressives with the same intensity with which they advocate for access to abortion and contraception. Today, as news of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson settles in and as advocacy groups turn their attention to the ongoing Justice Department investigation, I am thinking again of reproductive justice advocates’ insistence that women have “the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments,” as explained by the organization SisterSong. I am also wondering whether this framework for organizing should be broadened to include the right of black children to be understood as children and treated as such.

Granted, Michael Brown was 18 years old when he was killed, an adult by the legal standard. But the language Wilson used in his testimony to the grand jury indicates that he understood the importance of making sure Brown was not remembered as a teenager, as someone barely past that porous line that separates childhood from the class of people we consider fully developed:

And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan… Hulk Hogan, that’s just how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm.… The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up.… At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him. And then when it [the bullet] went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped.
By Wilson’s account, the 28-year-old officer of the law, holding the gun, was the child, and Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old, was somewhere between the devil and a professional wrestler. Making sense of Wilson’s words depends on our understanding that black life is often considered to be simultaneously subhuman and superhuman, impervious to pain and so requiring a level of force beyond what it would take to subdue a non-black person acting in a threatening manner.

When applied to young people, the impact of this potentially deadly delusion is especially difficult to stomach. Research has shown that black children cannot expect the same presumption of innocence that other youth can and so are often treated as adults, particularly in the criminal justice system. After 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black child, was killed last week by police after brandishing a toy gun in a Cleveland park, a family friend asked police a legitimate question: “Why not taze him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body.” The police union representative’s response was telling, if unsurprising: “We’re not trained to shoot people in the leg. If we pull that trigger, we feel our lives are in danger.”
Which raises some questions. What does it take for an officer in such a situation to feel endangered, to feel threatened, to feel outside his comfort zone? How does that change depending on the race of the person in front of him? Well-meaning educators, intent on training students how to be respectable and nonthreatening, are also complicit in this preoccupation with telling black youth that their childish behaviors and natural inclinations are inherently wrong and deserving of harsh punishment. A recent Atlantic article about school discipline explains how this looks in a New Orleans school with a predominately black student body.

From the moment Summer Duskin arrived at Carver Collegiate Academy in New Orleans last fall, she struggled to keep track of all the rules. There were rules governing how she talked. She had to say thank you constantly, including when she was given the “opportunity”—as the school handbook put it—to answer questions in class. And she had to communicate using “scholar talk,” which the school defined as complete, grammatical sentences with conventional vocabulary.… There were rules governing how Summer moved. Teachers issued demerits when students leaned against a wall, or placed their heads on their desks. (The penalty for falling asleep was 10 demerits, which triggered a detention; skipping detention could warrant a suspension.) Teachers praised students for shaking hands firmly, sitting up straight, and “tracking” the designated speaker with their eyes.… The rules did not ease up between classes: students had to walk single file between the wall and a line marked with orange tape.

In a letter demanding change, Duskin and sixty of her classmates wrote of the endless requirements narrowing the range of their behavior, “The teachers and administrators tell us this is because they are preparing us for college. If college is going to be like Carver, we don’t want to go to college.” I would take their brave declaration one step further to ask: Where do we want black young people to go? Based on some institutions’ actions—from police departments to prosecutors’ offices to schools, where black students are three times more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled—it’s easy to draw the conclusion that we don’t want them on the streets, we don’t want them in public parks and we don’t want them in classrooms unless and until they learn how to act like perfect middle-class white adults.

Parents of black children continue to question a culture that tells them to clip their children’s wings before they have nerve enough to think they can spread them. Teaching black children that they need not be fearful, docile or mature beyond their years is a revolutionary and potentially dangerous act, but it shouldn’t be. Perhaps disappointment over events in Ferguson will help grow a movement advocating that black kids should be allowed to be kids, with the many messes and mistakes that entails.

Read Next: No indictment for Darren Wilson, no justice for black lives