Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Men Must Be Bionic

[by Kevin L. Reeves]

 Editor's Note: Warning: This piece contains a link to a video of an officer shooting an unarmed black man.
In any situation, if a white police officer is moved to kill me, he knows he could do so with impunity. He knows this. He’s known it for many years. His socialization in these United States taught him the ways of race relations at an early age. With them, it’s an implicit understanding. He knows if we are engaged in any kind of non-lethal struggle, or if I dared to react in a way that is displeasing to him, he’d be free to take my life without consequence from the law. My innocence doesn’t matter. He understands that, for me, being unarmed doesn’t matter. Standing over my blood-soaked and bullet-riddled body, he’d be justified in his actions. After all, I was black and I was bionic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Flashback, Fast Forward: Michael Brown as America's Brute Negro*

[by Maryemma Graham]

Initial thoughts . . . Like many people, I have been hard pressed to make sense of the senseless, to believe the unbelievable. Darren Wilson shot again and again and ultimately killed unarmed college-bound Michael Brown. Wilson, due to the opinion of the Ferguson grand jury, will not face criminal charges. There was no probable cause to indict Wilson, they concluded.

The facts are simple, the case complex, it appears. Or is it? More importantly, why was I expecting something different—this time? We’ve seen it all before: violence seems to have no boundaries where, in this case and in far too many others, our black youth are concerned.  They, and we, are targets, their/our lives don’t matter; we are expendable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflections on #Ferguson: Baldwin's "The American Dream and the American Negro"

Today, in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the HBW Blog turns, as so many have done, to the words of the prophet James Baldwin: 

"It comes as a great shock to discover that the country which is your birthplace...has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you. The disaffection and the gap between people, only on the basis of their skins, begins there and accelerates throughout your whole lifetime."

These words, taken from Baldwin's "The American Dream and the American Negro," were delivered in a 1965 debate with William F. Buckley. A clip of Baldwin's speech is embedded below.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Of Nature, Nation, and the Ethnic Body

[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.]

Editor's Note: The Project HBW Blog mostly traffics in shorter pieces, but from time to time we like to present our readers with a longer piece, as well, in a feature we call Taking the Long View.  For this installment, we feature the poetry and critical reflection of Dr. Jerry W. Ward.
To echo a famous twentieth-century statement, the mind should prompt the mouth to say A BODY IS A BODY IS A BODY, aware that the voiced words refer to and locate an indivisible subject and object. Or perhaps the utterance dislocates the invisible to bring into view, into perspective, a something in the world that the world is determined to impale with the idea that the “something” is ethnic and different and to be talked about. If the something that is so embodied speaks, especially in terms of accepting its ethnicity, the something that is a human being may be contemplating its relationship to nature and to its properties and privileges as a constituent of a nation.