Van Jones asks
How do we explain Nichols’ horrific killing, allegedly at the hands of police who looked like him?
Jones isn’t shocked to see Black! men killing a Black! man. He knows it happens virtually every day in America. I don’t know about you, but what I saw on the Tyre Nichols video was a Black! beatdown of the most common sort; just another night in Memphis. Whether he knows it or not what shocked Van Jones was that the uniforms and badges–the tools and insignia of “White Supremacy”–didn’t shield Tyre Nichols from the sort of beat-down routinely given by Black! toughs in America. If the police are White Supremacy, the extralegal beat-down, celebrated in Black! culture through hip hop, is Black! Supremacy.
No, Van was shocked White Supremacy didn’t save Tyre Nichols from Black! Supremacy, as it does in the countless daily encounters in America we never hear about–whenever Black! hood justice (Black! Supremacy) is interdicted by lawful police action (White Supremacy).
What I’m calling Black! Supremacy here is Black! American culture and norms; the same objective template that critical theorists apply to white western culture and norms to produce “White Supremacy” as a reality (because these norms oppress non-whites) I apply to Black! norms and culture to identify Black! Supremacy, which is oppressive to non-Blacks! (in the same way White Supremacy is oppressive to Blacks!) where and to the extent it exists–like in parts of Memphis.
I accept that White Supremacy exists (it has to, as the honest culture and history of white westerners and the societies they’ve produced) and even that it is oppressive to Blacks! But that part has always been incidental–and to accept it one has to be an actual “racist” who sees a biological basis for racial differences, and thus sees it as inevitable a given system will prove more or less oppressive to a person or a people depending on its racial parentage.
In short the Nichols beat-down was the Blackest! thing imaginable; grimly, comically Black! in its ferocity and inexplicable nature–we still aren’t sure exactly why Nichols was pulled over. Just like a World Star Hip Hop offering the video hits the ground running and you’re wondering what the poor bastard could have done to provoke it.
I accept Van et al’s inadvertent assertion White Supremacy failed Tyre Nichols. But it failed him by not being applied. White Supremacy, we are learning, has no answer for Black! Supremacy in our “democratic” system. White Supremacy is communal and public–the law must not privilege the strong. Black! Supremacy is individual and tribal–the law is the privilege of the strong.
The police abolitionist stance has been the rules don’t matter because of the supposed inherent bias of white cops; the system can’t be reformed they say. But reform is attempted anyway, and in step the diversity-hire cops, such as the Memphis 5. Before long rule-breaking gets out of hand and police abolitionists incorporate it into the narrative, which before held inherently biased white cops corrupt the system; now it’s the inherently biased system corrupts Black! cops. Like an evil spirit it inhabits this, then that host.
The Black! police brutality as witnessed in Memphis is of a whole with the problem of Black! violence that produces Black! criminality and subsequent fatal contacts with police. In this revolutionary propaganda phase of the effort to dismantle American police those fatal contacts are a good thing for abolitionists, and the negative feedback loop of Bad Black! cops up against Black! bad guys promises to produce more. It’s very crucial then that Black! police are seen as enforcing White Supremacy, and the counter-narrative–b-b-but Black! cops!–must be adapted and incorporated into the narrative.
The question that should be asked now is how routine is the violence of the Memphis 5? Have Memphis cops been getting away with routine brutality because the federal government and media weren’t interested in investigating a Black! majority police force in a Black! majority city under a Black! mayor?
“Charging the officers who brutalized Tyre is not enough,” Bush continued. “Our country will continue to sanction the taking of Black lives with impunity until it embraces an affirmative vision of public safety and dismantles its racist policing system rooted in enslavement and government control. And let’s be clear: merely diversifying police forces will never address the violent, racist architecture that underpins our entire criminal legal system. The mere presence of Black officers does not stop policing from being a tool of white supremacy.”
Los Angeles learned representative policing doesn’t necessarily mean better policing well before the civil rights movement, when it struggled to police its burgeoning Black! population during the forties. LA Noir:
The torrent of countrified newcomers shocked black and white alike…Little Tokyo had suddenly become Los Angeles’ most fearful slum. It also became a center of crime…Officers policed African American neighborhoods with a heavy hand…Black officers were, by some accounts, even rougher. According to white veterans of the 77th Street Division, black residents often requested “white justice” out of fear of what black officers might mete out.”
Did the Scorpion Unit get away with and develop a culture of brutality because they weren’t drawing BLM and federal government attention?