“To understand the long and bloody history of police brutality against Blacks in the United States, one has to recognize it not as excesses by individual racists but as an organic part of this political enterprise” — Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract.
Nothing is by coincidence in this country. Everything is done by design to protect white supremacy, which is a political system, power structure, socioeconomic privilege, and differential distribution of benefits, burdens, and rights. This takes form in our federal, state, and local governments and the education, housing, healthcare, and judicial systems.
White supremacy establishes an ‘otherness’ of those without Aryan blood. This ‘otherness’ gave colonial conquest right amongst those who were ‘uncivilized’ or deemed ‘savages’ in the eyes of whiteness. This explains the countless atrocities in the name of colonialism and imperialism of indigenous people globally.
When the framers talked about all men being created equal, simultaneously, non-whites were not in that category because they were seen as being ‘non-people’ who did not have access to the same rights as whites. Thus, as we have seen over time, there is a stark difference in outrage over white vs. non-white death and suffering.
We can look at past events, such as slavery and the genocide of Native Americans, in bewilderment or puzzlement of how those events could have happened. How could they? Once you understand the historical record and understand the ‘racial contract’ that we have been prescribed, you’ll no longer be surprised.
“When white people say ‘justice,’ they mean “just us” — Black American folk aphorism.
I haven’t been able to get myself to follow the news or scroll my social media feeds since the Breonna Taylor ruling, primarily to protect my energy. It’s a shame that I’m no longer surprised and that a majority of Black Americans are no longer surprised by the lack of justice. But I understand the historical context of why the system is designed the way it is and how it maintains its power structure and occupational presence.
It is hard to ignore the reality that the United States was founded as a white supremacist state in historical context. Whose function is to safeguard the polity as a white-dominated polity by enforcing the terms of the ‘racial contract’ by the appropriate means through the state’s coercive arms: the army, the police, and the penal system. To better understand today’s injustices, every American needs to research the origins of modern policing in preserving the institution of slavery. The historical role of policing, from reconstruction to the civil rights movement to modern-day, has fulfilled its mission as an ‘army of occupation’.
I want to focus on breaking down the judicial system to collectively understand how it operates, why it fails to indict police officers, and why justice is never served when police kill innocent and unarmed Black civilians. It doesn’t begin with the Grand Jury. Still, the Grand Jury plays a significant role in protecting police officers from convictions.
Remember, when I mentioned that nothing is by design in the United States? The United States is the only developed country that still allows Grand Juries. Why? Grand Juries are often characterized by the level of secrecy that happens behind the doors. Why would a District Attorney or Attorney General send a trial involving a police officer to a Grand Jury? The simple answer is to absolve both the police officer and the prosecutor of any responsibility.
When a trial goes to a Grand Jury, nine times out of ten, the police officer will walk away. Why? Is it a fair trial? Are police officers always rightly acquitted? The answer is no. We have to understand the working and often friendly relationship between the Attorney General, District Attorney, Prosecutor, and Police Officers (unions included). They are all on the same team and rely on each other for investigations and convictions. More than likely it’s hard to find a prosecutor willing to break that relationship by taking down a police officer.
The District Attorney is also an elected official who relies on money and endorsements from police unions. When conflicted with invoking law or skirting justice to maintain the relationship and power structure of the system, what’s the best option? Ding, ding, ding…Grand Jury! In a Grand Jury, the prosecutor can selectively choose what evidence to present, or not, and has the power over the trial to go in the police officer’s favor.
So when I heard that Breonna Taylor’s case was going to a Grand Jury, I already knew the outcome. I understand the outrage, fatigue, sadness, and feeling of helplessness from the lack of justice. I know how much this one hurts because I’m hurting too. Breonna Taylor deserves to be here today, and the lack of justice brought onto her murderers is an abomination.
The system is in a knot that is hard to disentangle. I don’t know how we fix it without abolishing the structure that supports it: white supremacy.
We must know and understand how the system was built, why it is structured the way it is, and how it has been designed to dismantle it.