Ahmaud Arbery is the Invisible Man

  As the fictitious Invisible man had blood splattered on his face amid an uprising, Ahmaud’s blood cools Georgian Asphalt. As his lifeless body crashes onto the road, Travis McMichael and his father stand proud. They feel accomplished as though they’d slain Goliath. It appears Black men are a forbidden creature, crawling this earth, black as vultures, but somehow more repugnant. Biblical Scripture forbids the consumption of dead meat, however, as dead as we are, Black men are hunted as a delicacy. Priced higher than the finest venison – POP POP – shattering Ahmaud’s chest by two shotgun slugs. He crashes to the ground with one hand under his lifeless body. Travis McMichael rolls Ahmaud over to check for weapons, as though this is routine for him. Ahmaud Arbery’s Black life ain’t matter.  

            Some time ago, I paralleled the chokehold of American Imperialism to the lethal chokehold, N.Y.P.D. officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner. Let us not forget it was less than six years ago when Pantaleo murdered Eric Garner by the support of the domestic terrorists known as the New York Police Department. Under section 5 of the 18 U.S. Code § 2331, Cornell Law defines  Domestic Terrorism as: “involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended—(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” (Cornell Law 2018) Firstly, what criminal law merits a police officer to murder with impunity? If I’m not mistaken, murder is the greatest act “dangerous to human life.” The N.Y.P.D. murdered that man for selling cigarettes. The N.Y.P.D. murdered Brother Clifton for selling a “Sambo” doll. The N.Y.P.D. intimated the Black community to civil unrest – I CAN’T BREATHE. It appears this is merely a repeat of history. Reconciliation with white supremacy and domestic terrorism is a pipe dream in the United States. White supremacy has been a staple of the American dream since “A Birth of a Nation” unified this country on one accord. The Invisible man recounts the N.Y.P.D. intimidating the Black community to civil unrest – “There were black-bordered signs that read: 

 

BROTHER TOD CLIFTON

 

OUR HOPE SHOT DOWN

 

Even in fiction, the N.Y.P.D. retain their vicious inhumanity. It is time we face reality, to acknowledge the rampage of police everywhere. From the concrete jungles of N.Y.C. to the Favelas of Rio, to the suburban Parisian neighborhoods, to the Palestinian West Bank, Black and Brown bodies perish by the barrel of a rifle. This struggle extends beyond Harlem ghettos in the 1940s. This is a high capacity magazine, filled with obituaries and the strange fruit of black bodies. This heinous smell seeps through the pages. The pages are in order by age.

 

Tamir Rice, 12, slain by a gunshot wound at a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tyre King, 13, slain by Columbus, Ohio police. Multiple gunshots were delivered after King wielded a bb gun.

Joao Pedro Mattos Pinto, 14, slain by a gunshot wound during a police raid in Rio Favelas. Pinto was the 12th teenage shot by police this year (2020).

Jordan Edwards, 15, slain by a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Edwards was in the passenger seat of a vehicle driving away. Murdered in Balch Springs, TX, as the officer supposedly heard gunshots.

Rodrigo dos Santos, 16, slain by a thirty-eight-bullet barrage while speeding down a road in Rio De Janeiro.

La’quan McDonald, 17, slain by a sixteen-shot barrage by Chicago police as he appeared to wield a knife.

Michael Brown, 18, slain by seven shots in the ninety-second encounter from St. Louis Police. His body remained in the street for four hours.   

Tony Robinson, 19, slain by a gunshot wound from a Milwaukee police officer. Before the encounter, Robinson ingested psychedelics causing “erratic behavior.” Robinson was unarmed.

Unnamed victim, 20, slain by gunshot wound behind the right ear at close range. Murdered by the repeated offender, Sgt. Britto; a Rio military police officer responsible for at least 20 killings since 2010.

Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, 21, slain by multiple gunshot wounds after a car chase. Murdered by Black, Indianapolis police officer. Reed was unarmed.

Stephon Clark, 22, slain by seven-bullet barrage after Clark’s cellphone was mistaken for a gun, Sacramento police officers recounted. Sacramento mayor issued a statement to Clark’s murder: Regardless of whether officers acted legally, Steinberg said, “the outcome was wrong — he should not have died.”

Malik Williams, 23, slain by multiple gunshots by two, Federal Way police officers. Williams’ death was ruled a homicide.

Unnamed man, 24, slain by a gunshot wound by off-duty Cleveland Police officer. The man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, murdered by Travis McMichael by two shotgun wounds to the chest and one on Arbery’s wrist. Travis was assisted by his father, Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County Police officer. Ahmaud Arbery’s murder was deemed a homicide by the police report.

 

            To determine if U.S. policing constitutes domestic terrorism, we must ask ourselves, what is coercion? The second definition of coerce by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “to achieve by force or threat.” The Norfolk Southern Railway issued an apology for a “bait truck” filled with Nike sneakers, idly parked in the impoverished Chicago neighborhood of Englewood. The average household annual income in Englewood is $18,900; with this income, it is nearly impossible to pay basic necessities. It is unfathomable to purchase luxuries such as sneakers. Nikes are a common commodity to the predominately African-American community. 95% of Englewood’s population is African-American. The Norfolk Southern Railway and Chicago Police created a joint investigation dubbed “Operation Trailer Trap” to “lure” so-called potential thieves. This is oddly reminiscent of luring a mouse with a pedal, wooden mousetrap, and bait, such as cheese or peanut butter to entice them. The bait is needed to snap the necks of a nuisance. George Floyd’s neck was not snapped. Instead, he was deprived of air for eight minutes and forty-six seconds by the knee of officer Derek Chauvin. George Floyd was deemed a threat and executed. He was outnumbered by 4 to 1. It is evident the U.S. treatment of us, Black men are not too far from that of vermin.

            To perpetuate our faith in American ethnocentrism, we’d like to believe incidents such as “Operation Trailer Trap” are isolated. However, the rage of American oppression is inherently violent. It pillages beyond the point of return. The American rage is a vehicle in constant motion, propelled by a jammed accelerator to the floor. This rage murdered a teenager in Cicero, IL, in 1966, leading to Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to organize a march, demanding justice for the Black teenager murdered. This rage was felt by J Edgar Hoover in his COINTELPRO operation to decimate the Black Panther Party and every group in pursuit of self-determination. In 1985, Philadelphia police invaded the MOVE occupied ghettos, this rage committed Arson. Every bullet-riddled body murdered by the American rage smells more abhorrent than burned rubber. It’s a shame we pave over burnt rubber, only possible in a system complacent to senseless death.

            Why? Why are we, Black people, treated as less than human? It must be understood, under the United States, we are colonial subjects. To understand our condition, we must use the observations and research of Frantz Fanon. Fanon, one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century. Fanon applied Marxism to liberate the dehumanized Global South, otherwise known as the formerly enslaved Africans in the United States, or the colonized Africans. In a blog post entitled “Decolonization Disrupted: Namibia,” Afeni, a Black Namibian, applies Fanonism to the lack of land redistribution. Namibian land continues  to be occupied by the white, minority ruling class: “…in Fanonian terms (land) is tied up not just to the colonized peoples’ bread but also to their dignity…” Fanonism reappears in each generation, in each attempt, the people use the revolutionary’s theories as strength to uproot the overgrown weed of racial Capitalism. Fanon illustrates the centrality of class and race at the center of the “compartmentalized world.” He reinforces man must be at the focus of liberation: “You are rich because you are white, you are white because you are rich. This is why a Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched when it comes to addressing the colonial issue.” (Fanon, 5) I need to emphasize, we must not distinguish the Apartheid systems of Southern Africa from the Segregationist systems of the United States, as both are ongoing struggles.

 Frantz Fanon influenced liberation movements from the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966 to the modern South African and Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Similar to the Black Panther Party, the EFF is demanding an end to Colonialism. They desire nationalization of the South African National Bank, diamond mines, and all entities stole and occupied by the Dutch settlers, otherwise known as the Afrikaner. 26 years after the end of Apartheid, whites continue to own 73% of South African land despite representing less than 10 percent of the population. Like the Black Panther Party, the EFF is influenced by Marxist-Leninism, Fanonism, and Sankarism. The Black Panther Party, the largest Marxist-Leninist organization, formed within the United States, posed an instrumental challenge to the establishment, the state, the enforcer of dehumanization. The centrality of these liberation movements and observations have uniquely applied Marxism. Whether it may be nationalizing Diamond mines, or occupying the block with armed patrols, the reclamation of land is essential, a fundamental of Marxism, and a key to liberation.

            Fanon’s most distinguished work, The Wretched of the Earth, was the second book on the 1968 Black Panther book list, only behind The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In his call for revolution, Fanon observed the dimensions of racism by French and other European colonizers in Algeria and across the continent.

“We must remember in any case that a colonized people is not just a dominated people. Under the German occupation the French remained human beings. Under the French occupation the Germans remained human beings. In Algeria there is not simply domination but the decision, literally, to occupy nothing else but territory. […] A hostile, ungovernable, and fundamentally rebellious Nature is in fact synonymous in the colonies with the bush, the mosquitos, the natives, and disease.” (Fanon, 182) Unequivocally, Fanon has been the mortar to the bricks of liberation. The foundation of this home is justice, and Fanonism has upheld this structure for generations. It is time the Black collective occupied by the United States understands, only through political consciousness, can we be free. Free from the peril of murder by the United States military and paramilitary police forces. The Federal, the state, the local troops who slaughter us without remorse. Many of the Panthers believed they wouldn’t make it past 30 years old, however, in the spirit of liberation, we prevail.

            The liberal foundations of the United States government have been heavily influenced by the French. Therefore, the oppression of the Caribbean, Polynesian, and all occupied colonies of the world is synonymous with Black people in the United States. If we are ungovernable, categorized as a disease, then Colonizer sees annihilation as necessary. This constitutes Domestic Colonialism. What is Domestic Colonialism? In Black Against Empire, recipient of the American book award, Professors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Johnson Jr. document Huey P. Newton’s analysis on the occupation of the Black man in the United States. I feel it is necessary to mention this book is banned in all California state prisons. Newton inventively applies Fanonism to the Black person living in the United States. The Correct Handling of a Revolution chapter of Black Against Empire affirms:

 

“In the summer months of 1967 following the Sacramento action, Huey Newton published a series of essays in the Black Panther newspaper in which he explored ways to transcend the tactic of legally armed patrols of police. In “Fear and Doubt,” “The Functional Definition of Politics,” “In Defense of Self-Defense” (a two-part essay), and “The Correct Handling of a Revolution,” he articulates a new politics. Drawing upon the writings of Malcolm X, Mao Zedong, and the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, who participated in the Algerian revolution, Newton expands on the Revolutionary Action Movement’s identification of the black community as a colony within the American empire. He links both the conditions and the struggle for liberation in the black community to anticolonial efforts around the world, not only in Africa but also in Vietnam and elsewhere.” (Bloom, 66)

 

“He develops his argument in four parts, first applying Frantz Fanon’s theory of the psychology of colonization and liberation struggle to the ghettos of the United States, then extending the analogy to identify the police as an occupying force, interpreting U.S. urban riots as protopolitical resistance to this occupation,..”  (Bloom, 66)

 

“Newton lays out the first part of his argument in “Fear and Doubt,” where he analyzes the psychological dimensions of ghettoization, specifically on black men. He applies the theory developed by Fanon during the Algerian Revolution to the concrete and particular experience of blackness in the American ghetto in the mid-1960s, analyzing how black men experience ghetto life.1 […] “Society responds to him as a thing, beast, nonentity, something to be ignored or stepped on. He is asked to respect laws that do not respect him. He is asked to digest a code of ethics that act upon him but not for him. He is confused and in a constant state of rage, of shame and doubt. This psychological set permeates all his interpersonal relationships.” (Bloom, 66)

 

“While a number of Black Power organizations at the time were reading Fanon and interpreting the psychological dimensions of racial oppression in the United States, Newton’s innovation is to focus on the police as a brutal and illegitimate occupying force, the immediate barrier to self-determination. […] He identifies the police as representatives of the oppressive imperial power, an occupying force with no legitimate role in the black community.” (Bloom, 67)

 

            Newton declared the police an illegitimate form of protection for the Black community. His later understandings of Intercommunalism, as I professed earlier, substantiate the force as an occupier to all colonized people of the world.  In our demands for a world without maltreatment, what is our plea? Our cry is beyond police brutality; instead, we insist on the immediate end to police occupation. Fitting the language of political consciousness is to abandon terms such as “police brutality” as the inherent nature of this occupying entity is brutalization. For self-determination to prevail, the abolition of the police is necessary.  Before the utter annihilation of police, I implore the humanization of the Black man is needed. Upon our arrival to the United States, Black men have been the equivalent of a beast. We are treated as an invisible nonentity. Therefore, if the police are immediately disbanded, the Black man’s “constant state of rage” will continue its rampage, countering our move to be self-determined. Everywhere, the police need to be disarmed immediately, as the majority are in the United Kingdom. Police budgets need to be significantly cut in a move towards abolition. Simultaneously, a pedagogy based in humanization must be deployed and distributed along with the tax revenue currently fueling the police occupation. This revenue must actively repair Black ghettos and Brown Barrios to increase the quality of life and instill peace in our communities.     

            Last year, 1,814 people were killed by the Rio de Janeiro police. The NY Times coined this vicious barrage on human life as a “License to Kill.” However, it’s evident American police are in the same barracks of their Brazilian counterparts, and they too have a license to kill. Police in the United States killed 1,099 people last year, shy of one person from 1100 deaths. One officer was convicted of the three hundred and fifty-one officers responsible for killings from 2013 to 2019. 99% of police officers have not been charged. As subjects of Domestic Colonialism, In the United States, Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Unequivocally, Rio, a city with 6.32 million residents, has more murders per capita than the United States or any U.S. city. However, one life murdered by domestic terrorism, domestic Colonialism, or any oppressive entity is one too many, especially for a nation that prides itself on a façade of “liberty and justice for all” in their pledge of allegiance. Western Imperialists such as Investor’s Business Daily refer to Che Guevara as a tyrant, a man who once said: “The life of a single human being is worth more than all the property of the richest man on earth.” If the United States had any regard for human life, it wouldn’t permit their officers to kill nearly 1100 people in a year. As of March 30, 2020, thirty-one Black men have been killed by American police. It is a sad day when Ahmaud’s murder cannot be charged as a hate crime, as Georgia is one of three southern states without this legislation. It’s another bitter day in this nation when the murder of Ahmaud Arbery will not be counted in this rising number of police killings. Let us not forget Gregory McMichael, the father of Ahmaud’s murderer, was a former police officer. Ahmaud is merely collateral damage in the eyes of Domestic Colonialism. Therefore, Ahmaud Arbery is the invisible man.

            In 2005, while protesting the G-8 summit on Sea Island, GA, former chair of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown, learned about the deep impoverishment of Black people in the nearby city, Brunswick, GA. She attempted to run for Mayor under the Green Party that same year, however, was disqualified as she did not establish residency in time. We can only imagine what Brunswick would become with an avid advocate for human rights serving as Mayor. The murder of Ahmaud could’ve been prevented, or not, as racism is a Loa Loa. Racism is a disgusting parasite burrowing in the skin of America, hideous in the skin of Progress. In John Gast’s acclaimed painting, known as a symbol for “Manifest Destiney,” he depicts an angelic white woman, guiding her countrymen west. Her name is Progress. As transparent as this woman’s skin is, the worm is vividly seen and requires surgical removal. Cutting the skin of this white woman, drawing blood to remove this worm is necessary for it’s spread to cease.

            I have concluded the inherent inequities by the hands of Police across Black and Brown communities of the world, are not merely domestic terrorism. Every murder by the Police department on or off duty, American or Brazilian, white or Black, is the execution ordered by Domestic Colonialism upon its target. We, as Black men, feel a target lies on our back. Even if we’re shot in the chest, the attacks upon our lives are cowardice. The defenselessness of a twelve-year-old boy (R.I.P. Tamir Rice), the vulnerability of a 25-year-old man jogging (R.I.P. Ahmaud Arbery), the innocence of a man after his valid check was mistaken as fraudulent (R.I.P. George Floyd). These are the targets of Domestic Colonialism. Murder by ambush is the consequence of a system that refuses to acknowledge the humanity of black men and women. Huey P. Newton concluded the police is an illegitimate form of protection for the Black community, and 53 years later, internationally, we remain fearful for our lives by the police. Will we rediscover Fanonism and the contributions of Huey P. Newton? Or will we unearth new ideologies? Frantz Fanon began the On National Culture content of The Wretched of the Earth imploring: “Each generation must discover it’s mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” I had a dream – has it become a dream deferred? Are we foolish to dream of a world where senseless murder no longer prevails? A world where state-sponsored oppression is not granted impunity. Ralph Ellison reminds us: “… one knows that the forgotten details of certain dreams are not truly forgotten but evaded.” Freedom must never become a forgotten dream of ours. Freedom is not a figment of our imagination. Freedom will, forever, be our prerogative.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nathan Odige