By Dr. Jason Michael Williams
Much of Black American history surrounds the never-ending crave of Blacks wanting to “fit in” with mainstream society. In fact, many of the battles won by Blacks against oppression and repression have been on the grounds of receiving fair treatment and admission into mainstream society. However, to what extent has this desire to belong set Blacks back? More important, how has this yearning boosted White Supremacy in such a way where presently Blacks are brutalized and mistreated by consent?
For example, if one examines the criminal justice system prior to the Freedom Movement, a rather fast conclusion would be made to suggest that there was blatant racism active within the administration of justice. However, today, many Americans (including Blacks) are quick to capitulate or ascribe to consensus explanations and pseudo-justifications for mass incarceration. Such reasoning provides the following assertion, that Blacks are disproportionately incarcerated because obviously they are committing most of the crime. Notice, rarely do politicians or the media consider differential law enforcement, social economic inequality, and racism as factors for high Black imprisonment. Surprisingly, many turn a blind eye to those aforementioned factors even though studies have long validated their presence within both criminality and the administration of justice.
However, because Blacks are part of the franchise and are “full citizens” who have equal share in orchestrating and enforcing the law, there could be no valid rebuttal to such an assertion within the scope of both the law and administration of justice; thus Blacks suffer today by way of their own consent. Blacks have consented to such treatment and, as a result, room for blaming the victim for his or her victimization is no longer valid. Black engagement within the franchise has legitimated their penal reality to the point where their history of struggle and mistreatment as a precedent no longer matters. Society is, as a result, post-racial. A sure consequence of this, of course, is the breakdown of the Black family, community, and consciousness. Primarily because when anyone strives toward something other than him or herself he or he is bound to lose their sense of self and meaning in the process.
To underscore the above, even with a Black man as the President and Attorney General of the U.S. change has not come as aggressively as it should with regard to the Black penal reality. Perhaps becoming a “full citizen” came with consequences not seen back during the Freedom Movement. Nevertheless, it is Black people’s desire to “fit in” that has resulted in a loss of individuality and their connection and commitment to the fight against injustice. Throw them a bone, and they will be content and distracted. Sadly, acquiring a Black President in many ways may have worsened this affair. Blacks must find a way to participate within the broader American experience without having to give up who they are and where they come from in the process.