Part II: An Honest Look at Black America

The way we view ourselves and treat each other does impact how others view and treat us. Justice put another way is simply cause and effect. The actions we put into play will have a reaction. It may not be equal, and it may not be opposite, but it would behoove us to accept that the Black community is not exempt from the universal laws of nature.

By now many of us have seen the video of Mike Brown allegedly robbing the store just moments before he was murdered by Darren Wilson. I am not saying that he deserved to be executed, but to pretend that his theft is in no way connected to the murder that followed is denial. The Ferguson police chief admitted that the officer had no idea Brown robbed the store before he gunned him down. I get the sentiment that the introduction of this video to the narrative makes the subsequent shooting justifiable in many people’s minds, but it is a part of the story. Just like Black folks want the world to look at the larger picture when members of our community are breaking into stores, we should likewise not exclude details and refuse to give context in other instances of unfavorability.

As unfortunate as it is for Mike Brown’s physical presence to have come to such a sudden and tragic ending, we must stop using the lives of our youth as poster children for justice. Our liberation does not hinge on any one case. The life of Mike Brown should not be viewed as our ticket out of oppression. It’s unfair to his mother and father, and it’s unfair to him. I understand that blood — metaphorically and literally — often has to be shed in order for great change to occur, but I think we’ve shed enough over the last 500-plus years to last a lifetime. Why must we feel the need to martyrize ourselves or our brothers and sisters to get ahead?

Black people have gotten death down to a science, but we have yet to master the art of living.

Everything is connected. To continue to disassociate ourselves from the ugly distortion of Black life in America does a disservice to the beautiful reality of our existence here. A holistic approach is the only thing that can bring about a true and lasting healing. This is not an issue of respectability politics as much as it is universal law. We didn’t create racism, therefore we can’t dismantle it. We don’t control the mainstream media, therefore we don’t get to control that part of the conversation. What we do have control over is how we treat another and how we value our community.

Though you may not have deserved the intrusion, those who rob and ransack your house are not likely not repair it. You must fix it.

Outsiders can infiltrate a family and turn them against one another, but they can’t restore justice and put that family back together.

As long as our cultural relevance is subject to the approval of our oppressors, we will never know what it is to be free.

We cannot afford to waste anymore time waiting for the Department of Justice to deliver us. What right does any state-sanctioned organization of this oppressive country have to claim itself to be the arbiter of justice? Unless we mean in the way that British forces distributed justice along with smallpox blankets to the natives. Or justice in the way that the Portuguese erected Elmina Castle — the fort which held Africans until they passed through the “Door of No Return” to be sold into slavery.

So when we say we want justice, just whose concept of justice are we talking about? This America works just fine for those it’s supposed to work for. Those in control have it better now than ever. They’ve had centuries to refine their imperialistic tendencies to the point where it’s imperceptible to the masses.

Justice is the opposite of racism, and as long as the American policies reflect the views of the racists who created them, there won’t be justice for Black people — just this. It is imperative that Blacks rebuild the love within their community that legislation has destroyed. No law can fill that void. We must invest in our culture and stop looking to our oppressors to instill what they’ve worked hard to exterminate. Only then we can sit in peace at the table of justice.

Justice is not our domain as human beings. Justice is not a system of rewards and punishment. Justice is how the universe responds to our actions. Sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not. Bad shit happens to good people all the time, and the undeserved often gets pleasant things bestowed upon them. It’s not for us to decide what is or what isn’t just. Do the work necessary to build a healthy community and just let it happen.

Instead of worrying about what the Department of Justice has to say, we need to pay more attention to our Black government, our gods, our royalty, our ancestors. King Oliver, Ambassador Satch, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson — these are the people who paved the way for you to enjoy what freedoms you have as Black Americans.


— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

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