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New Rules After Zimmerman Verdict

zimm4 Rule #1 - There Should Be No Need for New Rules This unjust verdict should have been expected.  People can only be surprised if they refuse to acknowledge the history of black death by law enforcement and the subsequent acquittals in the US court system. Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Michael Stewart, Nicholas Heywood, Eleanor Bumbers, and Amado Diallo just to name a few.  This acquittal is just the natural extension of "backward progress" currently taking place in America including the recent negation of the Voting Rights Act.  At a time when a large segment of the white American population is "scared it's losing its country" the  verdict brings us back  the Supreme Court "Dred Scott" decision that "the negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect".  Now, not only does law enforcement have its traditional pass to kill black people and claim legal justifications after the fact, but so does the neighborhood watchman who joins the shop-keeper and businessmen with extrajudicial powers. Also, a clarification was given that anyone from any race can kill black people.  Asian, Latino and Black. In fact, when Black people kill each other it's one of the few times that there is guaranteed prison time because that is a two for one deal that the state appreciates.  These court cases always expose the vapid nature of our short term memories and our desire to believe that "this time" things will be different.  Look at the evidence.  After the almost mandatory not-guilty verdict, we fain outrage that this could happen in America.  Many of us want to continue to believe, because the alternative that we are a hunted despised people who are the survivors of a surplus enslaved labor pool who were not intended to survive is too much to bare. We can't accept that nothing in the American criminal justice system is broken, it was designed to work this way. We are broken to believe in it over and over again.

 

Rule #2 – Get Rid of the Fake Community Leaders

Anyone who claims to be a community leader and sees their role as chilling out the black community’s reaction to this verdict needs to be overthrown. These community leaders including ministers, politicians, non-profit leaders and pundits blast the airwaves and community with calls for prayer, peaceful protest, a national dialogue on race and finally a let us move on and respect the jury decision outlook. It should be obvious that these so-called leaders take their marching orders not from the community that they supposedly represent but from corporate media, sponsors and donors; foundations; and government officials; who make them feel important because they gave them a call. The parasitic relationship keeps the status quo going and helps it get past this moment. Those in charge ask themselves how do we get a “peaceful” reaction so that we don’t lose control and hence our authority over the people? Get the “community leaders” to calm things down, it’s like the old song ‘but where are the clowns? quick send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Community leaders right now should be advocating for massive civil disobedience and or direct action with a medium term plan.  A plan that goes beyond calls for the justice department to intervene, but one that targets the shrinking of the criminal justice system and “security state”.  Plans should be drawn up to target community watch groups who authorize their members to carry weapons and to strip their armed toy-cops of their weapons.  The call should be for changing the structure of policing so that community boards control the hiring and firing of officers on a precinct level.  Shift this outrage to reduce the number of youth and adult prisons, support the striking prisoners in California who are fighting for better conditions. These are natural extensions to the issues of criminalization of the Black community and Trayvan’s death. A real community leader would say that anytime there is an institution like the criminal justice system that has the power of life and death over you, you must either control that system or destroy it.  Real community leaders speak truth to power they don’t cozy up to it and do it’s bidding.

 

Rule #3 -Move to Communities Where Your People Make up the Majority

Once you see that “your” elected officials are old middle aged white people who smile at you a lot, it may be time to relocate if possible. American justice is divvied out across a great racial divide and being a significant “minority” in a city with white officials has now become much more of a hazard than at any time in the last 20 years. You may have more government services, but that includes policing that thinks your child does not belong and is dangerous.  I am never one to believe that black elected officials on their own are a cure, however the ability to pressure them may be greater, and the idea that your child is not as easily singled out can give some comfort depending on where you live.

 

Rule #4 – If You Can’t Move, Buy A Gun

This is a new rule that people talk about behind closed doors because it’s always controversial to suggest that black people buy guns.  I myself have never been an advocate of gun-ownership, but if you live in a jurisdiction where it’s legal to carry one, don’t be the only one without. The larger white community is armed to the teeth. Their basic belief system is that black criminals will get them, that black militants will seek revenge (in their distorted view a black lefty with his militant wife already  are in charge – if only that was true), and that they are slowly loosing “their” country because of a seemingly unstoppable demographic shift taking place. The combination of the unrestrictive gun laws and the corresponding shoot first and ask questions later stand your ground self-defense laws will continue to give a wide latitude on justifying why they just had to shoot you. That means more death and more trials. The question may be a stark one, but would you rather be an unintended martyr or a living defendant?

 

Rule #5 –  Get Organized for the One Millionth Time!!!

It seems that we don’t really like grassroots organizations. They are under-resourced and are organized usually more for the personal egos of those in control than for the larger community. They are time consuming with long, usually unstructured meetings and bad planning. Not a great way to spend ones time. However, organized people (even badly organized people) are far scarier to the status quo than individuals who are outraged on Facebook.  If you spend your time being a consumer of products and not of ideas, you are normalized and accepted, but usually no better informed than a 10 year old child (no offense to the 10 year old children who actually reads about the world). If  you are part of a group that will place demands on yourself, local officials, and the community, you may not be liked, you may feel alone and crazy, but you will be more effective in finding solutions to issues you would otherwise just rant about on Facebook.  If we get our people organized, then the next time this happens – because this will happen again – we can just skip the trial, assert our power, and get the justice that American courts will never provide.

 

Not a Rule, but Strongly Recommended – Talk about Black Liberation

Here on the Black Organizing Channel of Organizing Upgrade we hope to incite some dialogue about what it means and what it will take to rebuild a Black Liberation movement in this country.  We know this isn’t the only place to have that dialogue, but – and we admit we’re a little biased  – it’s a good place to have it.  So join in. You can:

a) Post a comment to this piece agree with us, disagree with us, uplift the brilliance of what we say, or rip our arguments apart.

b) Contact Kamau or Hashim if you have something you’d like to write for this channel

c)  Join us for a National Call to discuss the state of Black Organizing in the U.S.

Save the Date

Black Organizing in the U.S.

Where are we and where do we need to be going?

Thursday, September 19, 7p Est/4p PST

Call info to come – Stay tuned to Organizing Upgrade

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About Kamau Franklin (80 Articles)
Kamau has been a dedicated community activist and organizer for over twenty years, first in New York City and now based in the south. He has been a leading member of several grassroots organizations dedicated to the ideas of Malcolm X on self-determination. He has organized on various issues including youth organizing and development, police misconduct, and creating sustainable urban communities. Kamau has led and developed community cop-watch programs, freedom school programs for youth, large scale community gardens and alternatives to incarceration. He can be followed on twitter @kamaufranklin.

4 Comments on New Rules After Zimmerman Verdict

  1. Khalil Henson // July 17, 2013 at 5:53 am // Reply

    I am an Irish Muslim and caucasian who lives in the US and I also respect and understand your stance, but I also hope that it includes dialogue with individuals like myself who is raising a bi-racial child and in not believes in racial discrimination.

  2. Rule # 6: Develop some fearless discipline and stop being scary!

  3. We have to address sexism in our communties as well

  4. Being able to write this in hindsight, I think the failure to organize effectively after the verdict was not for lack of want (at least in TX where they’re still picking us off like target practice) but because we don’t all agree with the means to an end. In the 60’s there were concurrent movements that leveraged each other’s strength. Some were separatists, some were integrationists. We are not a monolithic community and people are sometimes put off by rigid standards of authenticity that become required when you get deeper into grassroots participation. (And then also as you said…there are the egos). While it was a good opportunity to get focused on looking at what’s going on in the community, some of these liberation manifestos assume too much about our general agreement on the way to get things done and in some cases on what liberation will ultimately look like.

    Maybe we need to use the divide and conquer strategy to our advantage so that individuals stay engaged with the causes they are most devoted to or adept at fighting e.g., Intellectuals for a Standard Black Curriculum, Urban Farmers Against Food Deserts, Families of Felons for Rights Restoration, D-Boys for Economic Development, AIDS Survivors for an End to Medical Apartheid, LGBT Squad for Adoption of our Abandoned Children, Young Black & Fabulous Land Acquisition Coop, VETS Community Watch, Biker Boyz Video Policing, Religious Zealots to End Poverty, (I just made these up but you catch my drift). If they organize around their issues 365, they will already be mobilized to form coalitions when larger battles require stronger forces and in the meantime they won’t be fighting each other stalling the progress of a more diverse group.

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