Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher
I often wonder, “When will we get it?” Marcus Garvey once stated that, “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” I whole-heartedly agree with him in this aspect. Because, although I am proud of who I am and don’t mind letting anyone know; I despise the fact that so many others detest who they are and where they come from. But the strangest thing is that even in spite of the fact that many members of the Black community run away from who they are; when we are seen among other nationalities and races out in public there is often a quick reminder that we are, who we are – Black, African-Americans, Colored or however one may chose to classify us!
It has often been stated that, “In order for one to receive respect they must first give respect”. While in many instances this statement may be true, in another sense it is not. For, it was the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed it to have been adopted. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment, Section One declares that, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Continuing, other laws have since been implemented as it relates to human trafficking of which victims of forced labor and trafficking are protected by Title 18 of the U.S. Constitution. Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights declares that, “Conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person’s rights or privileges secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States.” Following, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law states that, “It is a crime for any person acting under color of law (federal, state or local officials who enforce statutes, ordinances, regulations, or customs) to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived the rights, privileges, or immunities of any person secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S..” “This includes willfully subjecting or causing to be subjected any person to different punishments, pains, or penalties, than those prescribed for punishment of citizens on account of such person being an alien or by reason of his/her color or race.” With that being stated, We MUST Understand that, “though the abolishment of slavery has been in effect since 1865, there still remains a grave indifference regarding the way that Blacks are treated in America. Furthermore, no matter what the Constitution claims to uphold and proclaim Black is still Black!
I raise the question, “When will WE get it?” because far too many African-Americans are not realizing that something is going on. We African-Americans are constantly abandoning the very communities that assisted us to getting where we are today on an enormous scale. Now please make no mistake, I see nothing wrong with an individual trying to better his or herself. But please understand that, when we leave our communities at an attempt to be a part of communities of those who do not look like us, we set ourselves up for failure. When we move to these lavish communities and neighborhoods, though careers and bank accounts may say that we belong, society does not. As a result, WE are the first targeted and harassed when a crime is committed in these neighborhoods or communities.
Such was the case in the Robbie Tolan shooting incident, who was the son of professional baseball player, Bobby Tolan. It was around 2:00am, on December 31, 2008, of which Robbie Tolan and his cousin were confronted in the driveway of Tolan’s parents’ home; which happened to be in the prominent, predominantly White city of Bellaire, Texas by Bellaire police officers who suspected that the young men were driving a stolen vehicle. According to relatives, the two young men were returning from a late night run to Jack in the Box. Tolan’s cousin, Anthony Cooper reported that the police officers emerged from the darkness pointing a flashlight and gun at them. The officer reportedly commanded them to stop before announcing his status as a Police officer. After the officer ordered them to get on the ground, the parents came outside to attend to the unidentified noise. Robbie Tolan and other family members report that the altercation between Robbie Tolan and Officer Cotton ensued after Cotton pushed Tolan’s mother up against the way. Reacting in disbelief and anger, Robbie got up from the ground where he had been laying and moved toward the aggressing policeman. It was then that Cotton turned and fired a shot into the chest of Robbie Tolan, sending the bullet through his lung and lodging it into his liver, where it settled and threatened his life. Officer Cotton defended himself stating that he thought Tolan was reaching for a weapon and reacted quickly in what he thought was self-defense. He then searched Tolan who was on the ground and found no weapon on him. Although, charges were pressed against Cotton, on May 11, 2010 a jury reached a verdict of not guilty and Cotton was acquitted much to the dismay of minority leaders and critics around the country who continue to cite the case as an example of racial profiling and institutional racism.
I dare not stop with this one instance of racial profiling and institutional racism. Even when a Black youth makes a decision to walk through one of these ‘prominent – predominantly White” neighborhoods or communities; WE are the first one to be profiled and questioned, because of the mindset that WE don’t belong is in place.
Such has been the case of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, which took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African-American high school student. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed-race Hispanic, was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place. Following an earlier call from Zimmerman, police arrived within two minutes of a gunshot during a scuffle. Zimmerman was taken into custody, treated for head injuries, and then questioned for five hours. The police chief said that Zimmerman was released for lack of evidence and lack of legal grounds for arrest, and that Zimmerman had a right to defend himself with lethal force. However, six weeks later, amidst what some have described as a “media circus” atmosphere involving misleading accusations of racism; Zimmerman was charged with murder by a new prosecutor. George Zimmerman’s trial began on June 10, 2013, in Sanford. But just last week, a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges. The ruling has since sent shockwaves across the nation due to the blatant disregard of human life as it relates to African-American.
Finally, I present my last scenario of which I believe only serve to makes matters worse. For even when a Black man makes a decision to run for president of the United States of America and is elected there is still that stigma that WE don’t belong.
Such has been the case of President Barack Obama ever since his initial election into office in November of 2008. There is nothing new in terms of citizens criticizing a president’s administration policies, that is merely politics! But the things that have been said and done about President Barack Obama are totally insane. People have pointed their fingers in his face; the ongoing saga pertaining to his citizenship which has been proven long ago has become a never ending issue, among so many other demeaning tactics and folly. Even after the President was elected he still underwent much controversy from Donald Trump who insisted that President Obama, “show him his papers”. Never before has a president had to endure such humiliation and disrespect.
Accordingly, it never ceases to amaze me the disrespect that is continually bestowed upon the 44th President of the United States of America. This is the first time in history that a president has been ridiculed, criticized and mocked by the very people that are supposed to support him, all because of the color of his skin.
Concluding, this element further serves to exemplify that there is a long way to go before WE Africans in America will ever truly be respected in this country! After all, we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness too!