The Blight Of Negritude In A Black Country
Very often we hear stories of young men being accosted and antagonized by police and presume there was good reason for the brashness they were dealt. Jamaicans rationalize this sort of incivility on the part of the police as a reasonable response to the crass and brutish nature of the people they have to interface with in the execution of their duties to protect and serve.
Indeed it would seem that a large proportion of Jamaicans are aware they are shaka zulu pickney and as such do not take kindly to the assertion of perceivably illegitimate authority, worse in a heavy handed fashion. Many are simply anti-establishment for the sole reason that they loathe the Babylonian system and detest its corrupt representatives. Police, soldiers, politicians and other authority figures are seen as proxies for Backra Massa and his system of exploitation and are therefore usually viewed with suspicion, derision, and disgust by those who lack the social and other capital to see them as mere men.
Conversely the civilians who are elevated to the rank of defender of the ideals of the state exist in an almost perpetual insecurity because they are tasked to police a populace that does not consistently recognize or respect their authority so to do.
We therefore frequently end up with situations where a nervous gang of cops stops a car of young black men on a moonless night and both parties enter the ensuing exchange with great trepidation. Police assert themselves by barking instructions in a tone which is a mixture of both fear and necessary intimidation, while the occupants of the car react defensively and often angrily to a tone and style that even their own absentee poopa wouldn’t dare use with them at this stage of their life.
What happens when the occupants’ skin hue is deep, their accent doesn’t have the lilt of uptown authority, or their frustrated gesticulations to explain themselves are misconstrued as belligerence?
What happens when the occupants become indignant at the invalidation of their right of place by an agent of the state?
What happens when they don’t have parents who are ‘respectable’, don’t reside in the ‘right’ communities, or prefer to associate with those that don’t despite their own situation of relative privilege?
The simple answer is that they end up dead in a hastily scripted ‘shoot-out’ and their reputations are forever blighted even if they have never seen a firearm in their life.
This scenario almost happened to my brother a few days ago as his best friends from a blighted community dropped him off to our family home in a nearby middle-class suburb, within feet of where another young man and his best friends were killed in a ‘shoot-out’ almost two years ago.
Would I have had the unimaginable task of defending the reputation of my deceased sibling in juxtaposition to the state machinery throwing all its weight behind the task of validating the necessary use of force against a group of vagabonds?
Would I be forced to hypothesize whether my sibling and his dead friends, who I also grew up around, may have actually been very adept at concealing the fact that they were a gang of hardened criminals that carried out their illicit deeds in between raiding our pantry for snacks, playing x-box, and chasing girls?
What of the firearm that would have necessarily been recovered or the gunpowder residue that the coroner’s report would inevitably reveal?
Surely those couldn’t be the same hands that lovingly caressed his mother or playfully jabbed his father that the newspapers would suddenly have breaking news about the longtime criminal involvement of the corpses and the reasonableness of the use of deadly force to quell a violent act of rebellion.
What of the countless and nameless young black men that have been similarly eliminated as the state seeks to arrest our murder rate?
Is a solemn visit from the Commissioner, or a heartfelt letter from the Minister, or a ‘choops’ from the Premier sufficient to bring back the life of a child of this nation?
Is that a small price to pay for national development?
I am grateful good sense prevailed in the case of the police, my brother and his friends, especially that their lives were spared, but I mourn for the many other families that are left irrevocably broken after circumstances that ended unlike my own.