As relevant now as it was when this album came out 29 years ago
In yet another example of how unjust the system is, a white man in Sentinel, Oklahoma shot the police chief four times and will be able to share the story with his grandchildren somewhere down the road. Oh, and to add insult to injury, the police chief is black.
The cover art of next week’s New Yorker as drawn by Barry Blitt depicts Martin Luther King Jr. marching arm in arm with Eric Garner and NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu. In the background, we see Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and an American Flag.
I have several issues with this drawing. The first is, why is all the color removed from the people in the picture? Before Captain Facts or any other member of the #WellActually justice league can jump in my comments, let me say that I get what the artist may have intended, but the fact is, the murders of Garner, Martin, and Brown all had a basis in the fact that they were black, so removing their color in this drawing, in my opinion, is an attempt the erase the part that race/color played in their deaths.
Adding Dr. King to the picture could be considered a nice touch, and it definitely goes along with the theme of the article, but why is it that Dr. King is invoked so much by white people these days? When he was alive they wanted him to shut up. Now his name and memory are shouted from the mountaintops anytime anyone wants the angry black people to calm down. Please stop invoking the name, memory, and image of Dr. King as a means of trying to instill docility and quiet the righteous anger of black people in America. Dr. King was killed while demonstrating nonviolent resistance, so using him as a tool against the very people he was championing is more than a little insulting.
Why is Wenjian Liu even in this picture? The NYPD shooting was an isolated incident that had nothing to do with the deaths of Brown, Garner or Martin, so why is there this concerted effort by the media to rewrite the narrative and put them together? This is yet another version of #AllLivesMatter, which is in and of itself and attempt to water down the importance and significance of the movement that is happening in this country right now to save black lives.
This is not a Kumbaya moment. We are not going to emerge from this holding hands and singing gospel songs together. We are in the fight of our lives, and we demand the recognition of our humanity and our person-hood. Understand that until the genocide of black people in this country stops, the revolution will continue.
Here is what the artist had to say about his cover art for the New Yorker:
Barry Blitt drew next week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again. “It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” he said. “In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.”
How much injustice are we supposed to take? How long are we supposed to continue to swallow the shit sandwich America continues to serve up to us? What is it going to take to make change?
There are plenty of differences between the cases of Garner and Brown, but one particular contrast remains salient: There was no footage of Michael Brown’s death, only eyewitness accounts and conjecture, leaving minds to imagine a standoff between an officer and a civilian, a standoff that ended with the image of Brown lying dead in the street for over four hours.
I queued up Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” today after seeing someone reference it on Twitter. The lyrics are just as applicable today as they were the year the song originally came out. 43 years later, nothing has changed. NOTHING.
Where do we go from here? What are we to do?
Need I say more?
The way this image has been propagandized is highly disturbing to me because it distracts from the real issues. This has never been about the relationship between individual officers and young Black men, but about the way in which our institutions and society protect cops, granting them license to use lethal force in ANY circumstance. Whether they do use it or decide to demonstrate “love” is irrelevant.’
I would like to add that Devonte was crying before approaching the officer while he was talking to his guardian, presumably because he was terrified. This brings the question of coercion to my mind, but I’ll let ya’ll debate over it.”
I’m glad to know I’m not the only person serving this picture a bit of side eye. This image is meant to elicit a certain type of emotion and to encourage docile behavior.
There are those who are sharing this photo and reporting on this photo and others like it for the purposes of promoting the sort of “Can’t we all just get along” rhetorical idealism that derails many necessary social movements. That officer hugging that black child may evoke emotions, but it shouldn’t resonate deeper into our national consciousness than that video of an officer gunning down a different black child — Tamir Rice, a 12-year old in Cleveland who was murdered by cops last week after they were called to the scene by witnesses who saw him playing with a toy gun. If that picture moved you more than that video, I have to believe you are more interested in “peace” than justice. And that is unacceptable in times such as these.