Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore: America always loves a Mammy


Black Baltimore remains ablaze for Freddie Gray...

On Monday (April 28, 2015), in the shadow of Mondawmin Mall, the last corporate-owned retail outlet in the northwest Baltimore 'hood, a Black mother, dressed in obvious working class chic attire, spotted her son among the throng of enraged youths hurling anything within reach at platoons of police guarding the stores. She jumped the boy, punching, shoving and cursing. She screamed: ”You thought I wouldn’t recognize you?!” She continued hitting the young man, who accepted her blows and verbal abuse without retaliation. He followed his mother to her car. The woman continued to scream:

Child torture and humiliation as a social survival strategy in Baltimore?

"Boy! Get your behind.
What is wrong with you huh?? What is wrong with you?
Take the fucking mask off. You wanna be brave? Take it off!
You wanna be out here doing this dumb stuff? This dumb shit? Get the fuck over here. Get over here now! You hear what I say?
Come over here. Get over here!!"

The young teen winced in shame and sheepishly followed his mother out of the camera frame. Another Black child was flogged and publicly humiliated in the street. It is unlikely that the Mondawmin Mall incident was the first time the teenager had been whooped and cursed. But this time the episode was captured by Baltimore's WMAR, an ABC-affiliated television station. The video went viral, garnering thousands of instant views.

Indeed, the tweet world went wild with applause for the mother, much of it characterized as this: To the mom that smacked her kid for rioting in Baltimore, good on you. We need more parents like you. #momoftheyear— Chad Carman (@CharminCarman) April 28, 2015

Not surprisingly, much of the social media chatter came from other Black people who praised the publicly abusive parent. America, especially Black America, had its Mother of the Year, its newest Mammy.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts
The mother's televised felonious assault on her son became so popular that Baltimore's now deposed  Police Commissioner Anthony Batts felt compelled to quip, during a news conference, “And if you saw in one scene, you had a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight.” The police love Mammies, too.

Not to be outdone, the Black Preacher Class joined in praising the mother. Thumping their Bibles, they reminded their routinely financially-fleeced sheep that a verse in Proverbs 13:24 that says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” They conveniently failed to add that, in Hebrew--the accepted root language of the Judeo-Christian scriptures-- the word translated as “rod” is the same word used in Psalms 23:4, “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The shepherd’s rod was used to guide the sheep, not to whip them.

Young Black people must be disciplined through corporal punishment and verbal abuse, so goes wisdom of the Negro Sages of the Ages. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin “discipuli,” which means student or disciple, strongly suggesting a teacher-pupil relationship between a parent and child. Punishment comes from the Greek word “poine” and its Latin derivative “poena,” which mean revenge, and form the root words of pain, penalty and penitentiary. But semantics has little place in American social sympathy for tree limb-belt buckle-whip-bareknuckle-boot wielding Mammies.

The truth of the matter is that neither discipline nor punishment are the social motivations of Mammies. They are actually plantation functionaries charged with the task of keeping the pickaninnies politically subservient to the Master and the social manners required by the system of White Supremacy. Mammies are preferred dispensaries of Black child terror and torture. The woman at the Mondawmin Mall on Monday was merely carrying on time honored tradition of chattel slavery in America.

While 70 percent of Americans approve of corporal punishment, Blacks have a historically specific relationship to the practice of child abuse. Parental child torture has always been a central feature in the slave society. Black psychiatrists William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs described it in their 1968 book “Black Rage.”

They wrote: “Beating in child-rearing actually has its psychological roots in slavery and even yet [B]lack parents will feel that, just as they have suffered beatings as children, so it is right that their children be so treated.” In short, corporal punishment is a sort of perverse Black FOLKWAY.

Some historians believe that Black slave parents (Mammies) often showed manifest contempt for their children in order to simply appease the sadism of the white slave-owners. This was a way of demonstrating loyalty and worth to the master. The revolutionary psychiatrist Frantz Fanon pointed out a similar trait among the French lower stratum colonial functionaries in Algeria. 

Frantz Fanon, MD

He wrote: "By torturing, [the police agent] manifests an exemplary loyalty to the system. And indeed the French soldiers can hardly do otherwise without condemning French domination. Every Frenchman in Algeria must behave like a torturer." (Toward the African Revolution: Political Essays, trans. Haakon Chevalier (New York: Grove Press, 1967), 71.) In a like manner, every slave afflicted with the slave mentality felt compelled to demonstrate thralldom to the master.

Keep in mind that the slave Mammies who brutalized their own children often suckled and fawned over their masters' white children. The beloved Black Mammy is actually an emblem of motherly charms, a staple character of American literature and film in 19th and 20th centuries. White supremacy needs and loves Mammies for their dual social roles as the nurturing mother (reserved for white kids) and the tormentor (reserved for Black kids).

But there was another side of the coin. Terror in the cotton field at the hands of overseers (Black and white) often provoked parents to beat Black children in the slave shack, or at times in the presence of the slave owner in order to break a rebellious child’s spirit. Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send Black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them.

Indeed, the snarling and punching parent at Mondawmin Mall on Monday is basking in her 15 minutes of fame. She is America's favorite Mammy of the moment. Her name is Toya Graham, and she boastfully explained the attack on her son to the adoring corporate media. Speaking to CNN (April 29), she declared, "I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody who knows me, knows I don't play that. He knew. He knew he was in trouble."

Graham recounted that she and her son made eye contact and she didn't even think about the news cameras when she went after the teen. She was probably telling the truth. Her assault was the social reflex of a slave.

Graham continued, "That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray. I was angry. I was shocked, because you never want to see your child out there doing that."

The logic of Graham's antics resides uniquely and solely in the psychosis of white supremacy and Black political emasculation. By her estimation, if Freddie Gray had been appropriately humiliated and beaten by his mother or father, then he would not be dead today. Sickness! Let's apply science. If Freddie Gray had managed to elude the Baltimore policemen, legally empowered to maim and/or murder Black youths with impunity, then Freddie Gray would be alive today. Let's marry science, not slave torture.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The battle of Zip Code 21217

by Malik Sekou OSEI
Let us be clear: On Monday, April 27, 2015, Baltimore's slave youths went on a rampage. There were running battles with the city's police throughout the southwestern sector of the city. A few stores were looted and burned. Police were pelted with bottles and bricks and their vehicles were smashed. Was the night's rampage the opening shot of the Black revolution? Was it emblematic of Black political outrage and social readiness to confront The State?   

Our answer is an emphatic NO. The Baltimore uprising actually exposed the utter political disarmament of the Black working class and lower stratum. West Baltimore ablaze last night was only a smoldering social dystopia on a landscape peppered by the RUINS OF LANGUAGE.

Freddie Gray, already injured by Baltimore police, would end up in a hospital with his neck nearly severed less than an hour after this photo was taken..
Freddie Gray, age 25, is dead at the hands of the police. Accused of reckless eyeballing a cop, he was summarily and publicly executed. His murder was recorded by dozens of slumdweller on their telephone cameras.  Somehow his neck was crushed in the back of a paddywagon. It took a week or so for him to die in a hospital from his injuries. Gray's murder ignited retaliatory, spontaneous street actions against the police and some businesses. Given the locus of the fighting, the injuries and mayhem could have been far more extreme. 

(The initial looting sites were along West North Ave. at the Pennsylvania Ave. intersection. The riot moved west along North Ave. and north along Pennsylvania toward the Mondawmin Mall, the last remaining retail center in Baltimore proper. This CVS pharmacy was looted and burned. A tremendous amount of prescription narcotics were taken..)
In lock step, the usual cast of Black elected officials and preachers answered the uprising with quick denunciation. They insisted that the burning and looting was the work of "outside agitators" (Read: communists) and "thugs" (Read: gangbangers) who did not respect the death of Freddie Gray. City council members Bernard C. Young and  Brandon Scott went as far as to describe the street fighters as "cowards." But the issue at hand, understood in the slums of Baltimore, is that the police and their ostensible blackface political leaders never respected the "life" of Freddie Gray, nor lives of poor Black Baltimoreans.

As we write, 1000-plus people have re-assembled at the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenue. They are attempting to march westward, but they are blocked by a line of riot police and national guard troops. Round Two has commenced. The National Guardsmen were recruited by the city's Black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings Blake and a phalanx of Black "civil rights" hucksters.

(MAP of the uprising's epicenter),-76.6425277,17z

Who are the people staring down the police today? West Baltimore, the site of the Freddie Gray execution (Zip Code 21217), in regards to population density and poverty, ranks among biggest slums in the United States.

Estimated Zip Code 21217 population in 2013: 40,443 (Landmass: 2.3 miles)
Median household income: $21,969 (Maryland: $73,971 / US: $53,657)
Median house or condo value: $43,104 / Renters: 70% (Maryland: 34%)
Median contract rent: $779
Unemployment: 20% (Grotesque under-estimate)
Residents below the poverty level: 37%
Median resident age: 39.3 / (20.2% Currently Married / 57.5 Never Married)

These are the people who have taken to the streets and who are battling police with their bare hands. They live in utter filth, surrounded by the torched hulks of abandoned buildings, ignored by the Black-run city government. Baltimore’s affluent city center, containing a world-class university and hospital system, is ringed by scenes of abject poverty; whole neighborhoods of decaying row houses, with tens of thousands living in poverty.

Baltimore is a fetid social scrap heap fit for demolition. 
Moreover and specifically, the corner of Pennsylvania and North is an open-air drug market where high-powered prescription narcotics are dispensed to neighborhood junkies and white suburban patrons by unemployed Black men like M&Ms. (More details at

Hardly a rampage of looters, the slumdwellers in the streets of Baltimore today are people who have been pushed to social desperation. They are indeed the Wretched of the Earth. The oafish Mayor Rawling-Blake recently chided the outraged street people, declaring,  "It's idiotic to think by destroying your city, you're going to make life better for anybody." For the residents of Zip Code 21217, the City of Baltimore is already a fetid social scrap heap fit for demolition. 

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the epitome of US urban failure.
It is within this context that police violence, revolving entrapment by the criminal courts system, poverty and the studied ineptitude of Black Democratic Party elected officials feed social rage like gasoline on a flame. The truth that is never spoken: Most of the social tormentors of the Black working class and lower stratum in Baltimore are themselves Black. 

The young people who have taken to streets of Baltimore today have witnessed the murder of Trayvon Martin by an out-of-work security guard posing as a law enforcement official. They have seen Michael Brown gunned down in Missouri. They were appalled to see Eric Garner literally strangled in the street like a dog by NYC policemen.  Then came the video-broadcast of Baltimore's Freddie Gray--just one of scores of younger Black men maimed and murdered by police in Baltimore every week. Baltimore has a long history of police brutality, which has resulted in $5.7 million in payouts to victims since 2011. The Baltimore Sun newspaper recounts that “Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.”

The killing of Freddie Gray actually mirrored a 2005 police murder in the city, in which Dondi Johnson had his spine fractured after he was given an intentional “rough ride” in a police van that arrived at the station in half the time it would have taken if it were driving at the speed limit. His family received a $7.4 million judgment, which was consequently reduced to $200,000.  In the Gray and Johnson cases, police were forced to admit that, contrary to protocol, they did not use seat belts to restrain the handcuffed prisoners. In fact, the city of Philadelphia has also been forced to pay  over $2 million to settle lawsuits alleging that “rough rides” left two people paralyzed.

Consequently, these victims and their supporters have now made Zip Code 21217 ungovernable. It is a reflex of outrage. They have no political agenda, no revolutionary program, not even a coherent set of demands for reform. This reserve army of labor, these utterly de-classed youths only possess their bodies and fury.

The homicidal character of the police officers’ actions underscores a fundamental reality of American life: in Black  working-class neighborhoods throughout the United States, the police function as de facto death squads, treating workers and young Black people as an occupied population, to be put down with arbitrary arrest, violence and even murder.

The antisocial views promoted among the increasingly militarized police were reflected in the revelation this week that the National Guard officers overseeing the crackdown in Ferguson, Missouri referred in official documents to peaceful protesters engaging in their constitutionally protected right to free speech as “enemy forces.”

These conceptions, and the murderous actions that accompany them, are the expression of a society deeply corrupted by vast levels of poverty, social inequality and racism, in which the police increasingly see themselves as the “thin blue line” separating the impoverished masses and Black people from the financial oligarchy that has enriched itself fabulously at the expense of the 99 percent.

Baltimore is representative of the massive decay and deterioration of Black working-class living standards over the past several decades, leading its population to drop by nearly a third.

Demolition of Bethlehem Steel's "L" Blast Furnace is emblematic of the economic rot in Baltimore.
Since 1970 the city has lost more than 84 percent of its manufacturing jobs, while the official general poverty rate has hit more than 25 percent. The beginning of this year saw the demolition of the towering Blast Furnace, once the heart of the Bethlehem Steel mill at Sparrows Point, which employed thousands of people over the course of a century.

Conditions of social misery are accompanied by extraordinarily brutal and repressive policies directed against the city’s Black population and the poor. Last year, Baltimore enacted a law fining the parents of children who violate the city’s 9:00 PM curfew up to $500. But the city has no coherent youth policy whatsoever. After a day in confinement in the city's dilapidated and poorly run schools, what are children to do? In Baltimore, nobody gives a damn! Likewise, advocates for the homeless denounced the curfew, which allows police to detain any young person caught outside after hours, saying it will push the city’s 2,400 homeless youth “farther into the shadows.”

In perhaps the most draconian attack on the city’s population, the city administration last month announced that it would begin shutting off water to as many as 25,000 poor residents, triggering protests.

These egregious attacks on the social rights of the Black people takes place in a city where the mayor, police commissioner, and the majority of city council members are African American, and which has been run by the Democratic Party for decades, exploding the claim that electing minority candidates of this big-business party is a means to improve the lot of Black members of the 99 percent who, if lucky,are given the privilege to work at sub-survival wages at dead-end jobs.

The uprising in the wake of Freddie Gray’s murder is actually a social referendum on Baltimore's affluent Black elite which has lined its pockets for decades with federal and state funds in the name of improving the lot of the Black masses. These Democratic Party elected fakirs and assorted poverty pimps have delivered nothing but an army of occupation to the streets of impoverished Baltimore.    
The brutality meted out against the Black population of Baltimore, both by the police and politicians, is a concentrated expression of the assault on the working poor that has taken place nationwide, resulting in an enormous collapse in living standards and the effective halving of wages for manufacturing jobs.

The growth of poverty and social inequality has been accompanied by the militarization of the police, which has been coordinated at the highest level of the state by the Obama administration. Even while categorically refusing to even track police killings on the national level, the Obama regime has transferred billions of dollars in military hardware to local police. The White House has repeatedly refused to bring federal charges against killer cops, including former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the killer of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

 Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that despite its claims of sympathy for the victims of police violence, “at the Supreme Court... [the Obama administration’s] Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments.”While thousands of people have been killed at the hands of police over the past decade, only 54 officers have been charged for killing people in the line of duty, of whom only 11 were convicted, receiving mostly wrist-slap sentences.

War, exploitation and racism are the inevitable by-products of the capitalist system. The defense of democratic rights, including freedom from police violence and poverty cannot be separated from the struggle to overthrow this corrupt and brutal system of race and class-driven terror, and actual social development of a genuinely egalitarian society—REVOLUTION. 

For history is on our side, but not time…