As I was going through my nightly and daily chore of collecting data about St. Louis from my Twitter list, it occurred to me that the neighborhoods where Mike Mike Brown, Kajieme Powell, and Vonderrit Myers were murdered by police are not high crime neighborhoods or even high poverty neighborhoods. That is to say in more colloquial terms, they were not in the “hood”. I feel it is unnecessary to note that even if any of these young men were to have been fighting the police, the excessive force utilized by the police is still highly unwarranted and questionable. I will also type that no matter where these young people found themselves class-wise, they did not deserve to have their lives snatched from them. However, because there is a set of arguments in defense of the racial profiling occurring in these situations, I do find it not only an objective reality(“it is what it is”), I also find it necessary to alter the imagined framing in the minds of those that only know the Black community from television or only know these areas from televised coverage.
There is a discussion rooted in respectability politics that frames each of these young men as hostile predators with no ties to the systems of assimilation and social mobility. This idea that Mike Mike was not preparing to go to a trade school, that Kajieme’s mother is not a professional class woman, and that Von was not attending a community college. From my vantage point, the environments do not suggest that these young men represent some overly aggressive and super human strength most likely garnered from scripted images of US Black males. This idea floating about of “impoverished” suburbs continues this theme of poor Blacks and most importantly a theme of criminalized Blacks. Which leads me to a few other thoughts in respect to these cases. And interestingly enough, much of this particular discussion is being had among US Blacks.
US Blacks are not a monolith. Chinese people are a monolith. Quiet as kept, much of the Arab Islamic world is monolithic. Nigerians are a monolith. Now, that being said, what does OWL mean when he types,”monolith”, because it is probably different in scope than what most assume. It should be noted early on that no two people are totally alike, and that perspectives within a group of thirty million or more people is going to produce a full gamut of variables and distinctions. Therefore, in my thinking, it is childish to even begin to apply the term “monolith” in a manner that suggest a group of people being all of the like mind. No, for me a monolith means what it should mean, a unified whole with a central vision and an articulated set of principles and agreements defining the standards of inclusiveness.
US Blacks are not a monolith, not because Lawrence Otis Graham-upon seeing his elite status does not fit the definition of most US Blacks for what makes a person culturally “Black”- says that Blacks are not a monolith, but because US Blacks have not agreed to be a monolith. But, US Blacks need to be a monolith. Monolithic people are capable of framing the narratives surrounding the murder of their own in their own voice without feeling the need to appease outside sentiments. One, most monolithic groups are not policed by foreign presences even when on foreign soil, and secondly, most monolithic groups do not have to explain why their youth do rebellious things without it making those youths incorrigible savages requiring a death sentence by one man firing squads.
No, US Blacks are not all the same. We are not all characters(caricatures?) of some 1990s hood classic or secondary plot extra of a rap video. But some of us are. And when and where we are, there does need to be context reflecting the Whyte supremacist structure of the US socio-economic framework. And when we are not, that particular objective condition needs to be stated loudly and clearly.