In PhD Alonda Nelson’s The Long Duree of Black Lives Matter, she explains that immediately after the Emancipation Proclamation freed African slaves throughout America, there was a tremendous spike in lynchings and also police violence against Africans, a problem which persists today. While I would never denigrate all police officers with a broad brush, especially considering the proliferation of illegal guns in poor, often predominately black communities in America, there is undoubtedly an epidemic of police brutality against Africans in the form of excessive force, racial profiling and even shooting unarmed civilians because of a perceived threat based on racial biases. In response to abolition, whites who lost their free labor spurred a counter movement aimed at suppressing the liberties and literal existence of Africans in America. This manifested itself through occupational and educational discrimination, redlining and extrajudicial murders but even more sadistically and methodically through mass sterilization by doctors who blacks had no choice but to trust.
In the article, Nelson describes what Fanne Lou Hemer experienced, calling it the “Mississippi appendectomy.” This referred to a method of sterilizing poor African women in her home state, an injustice she herself experienced at the hands of a white doctor in 1961. In chapter 12 of Toni Morrison’s Home, which takes place years after the Korean War during the same time period Nelson was actually victimized, Frank discovers Cee unconscious at Dr. Scott’s office with blood around her genital area. Earlier in the novel, Cee admired Dr. Scott for helping poor, underprivileged blacks out of what she presumed was the kindness of his heart. What she did not notice was his books on eugenics. In chapter 12 when Frank arrives at the doctors office, Dr. Scott is so scared that Frank has come to exact revenge on him that he tries to shoot Frank, but fails because he is out of bullets. To him, Cee was dispensable and he therefore didn’t feel guilty about experimenting on he r or sterilizing her, but was instead only fearful for his own life. Dr. Scott was a fraud like so many doctors must have been at the time. For people to summarily dismiss Black Lives Matter as either fringe or unnecessary in modern times, they must ask themselves if medical professionals in their parents’ generations had drugged someone they knew unconscious and sterilized them and people like you or them on a systematic level if you would feel like people cared about your life.
When BLM protests in the streets on behalf of current, prevalent police brutality and murdering of black people, people say they are themselves the problem and should organize and protest respectfully and totally nonviolently. Yet when Colin Kaepernick of the NFL took a knee during the national anthem (he was the first to do so), he was ultimately fired and essentially blacklisted by all teams. He vocalized that he was protesting racial inequality in America and received minimal support. It was only when President Donald Trump actually called the NFL players who protested “sons of bitches” while saying they should “be fired” that NFL owners supported the protest during the national anthem. Before Trump had called out the NFL brand, only the players, many of whom are black, supported the protest and it wasn’t until after his comments that the billionaire owners supported the movement. This support is not because they wish to fight racial inequality, but rather to preserve a profitable brand which takes young men and swallows them to feed the beast in exchange for temporary fame and fortune, almost always causing the individual permanent physical injury in the process. The article writes about Fred Hampton, a Black Panther’s Party leader who was killed in his sleep by law enforcement ultimately for spouting ideas like “policing the police” and endorsing wider social justice. Kaepernick is a more mild, modern equivalent martyr in the sense that he compromised his promising, lucrative career as an NFL quarterback in order to stand up for his inconvenient beliefs (ironically by kneeling).