Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rodney King: a name we will never forget

There are so many emotions stirred by the death of Rodney King.  There’s the usual stuff that rises to the top whenever I hear his name.  I get pissed off because his name reminds me of every time I’ve been stopped by the police for no other reason than driving while black, walking while black or shopping while black.  His name reminds me of why I pray every morning before stepping out into the real world.  As much as people refuse to admit it - it’s tough being a black man in America.
Black men have to be careful with how we talk about race.  We get accused of using the race card or living with a victim mentality.  People are quick to challenge us to pull up our pants by our bootstraps and take responsibility for what we have done to limit our own progress.  We’re told that others struggle just like we do, and that it’s not our black skin combined with manhood that causes all the hostility others have toward us; it’s our attitude blocking progression toward that American Dream.
Rodney King is one of the many reminders of what happens when black men show up.  Other example can be found: the Jena 6, Trayvon Martin, the harassment of Harvard Professor Skip Gates by police when he was unlocking his front door, the conviction of Brian Banks for a rape he didn’t commit, the wrongful conviction of Daryl Hunt for the death of a Winston-Salem journalist and the conviction of Mumia Abu Jamal for the death of a Philadelphia police officer.  When a black man is arrested the first thought is he’s guilty until proven innocent.
The uproar that followed that release of that dreadful tape, that showed Los Angeles police beating King with their clubs, was stirred by years of police brutality. Complaints by citizens weren’t enough to convince authorities to change the unwritten code that gave a green light to beating black men expected of wrongdoing.  The riots that followed reflected a community's pay back for being fed up with being used as beating boards. 
When King came out and begged the world to “just get along,” his tone and face said more than his words.  53 people were dead after those riots, and the nation had become even more torn by race.  Black people were incensed by the notion that black men deserved to be beaten, like former slaves, for minor acts of disobedience.  Like the burning of Watts in August of 1965, it was in retaliation to police brutality.  Enough is enough.
Few know the name Marquetta Frye, the 21-year-old black man pulled over by a white California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer.  Frye was arrested and by midnight 13,900 people were in the streets protesting.  Watts went up n flames, but few know Frye’s name.  Few don’t know King’s name.  That name, Rodney King, is synonymous with police brutality.
King’s drowning in his home pool won’t change any of that.  His name will be remembered because he provided the evidence the black community needed.  It showed up on tape.  It couldn’t be refuted.  It was no longer the word of the police against that of another black man griping about the abuse of power.  It was there for the world to see.  After the nation watched, the conversation regarding police brutality shifted.  It no longer became a figment of the black community’s imagination, it was there to watch.
Rodney King’s body was sacrificed to uncover truth.  The $3.5 million King received to compensate him for the blows on his body helped heal the ache of that night.  The money paid for the brutality, but there are some things money can’t make go away.
No matter how much money a black man has in the bank, it’s not enough to avoid the suspension of those who assume him guilty for no other reason than the color of his skin.
Ask Skip Gates.


  1. Over the years I have seen literally hundreds of black teenage boys arrested for 'crimes' that Duke students commit daily: carrying weed (not enough to deal but to smoke). And in the end the kids are too poor to play the court costs and can end up in jail for that. Racism is alive and well in Durham.

  2. Outstanding article.

  3. Yes.... we still live in a racist society....The primary reason white kids don't remain in jail, if they are even arrested at all is that their families have money to bail them out and they hire aggressive attorneys to work out a plea or have charges dismissed altogether. Let me back up a little and remind you that society still sees the black man as a boogie man that all of society should fear. Sadly the darker the skim the more fear our society has of them. More sadly, in the corporate world, I have seem black men go so far out of their way of try to make whites feel comfortable with them by ongoing cranking jokes, acting silly simply to disarm them or to have them let their guard down and not view then an a menace to society. That in and of itself must be a draining endeavor to undertake day in and day out. It was gut wrenching to watch what they had to do to survive in the corporate world. If you did not adopt this approach then you were seen as an uppity n-----. VRW

  4. I once met a Chemistry professor, genius level intellect.
    Awkwardly, he always felt inferior to other people. He is black.
    I think it's all about black people's mentality, not skin color.

    If you read Rodney Kings entry in Wikipedia, its says the other two passengers that night complied with police officers orders to lie down, and were taken into custody without incident. But Rodney King? No, he decided to fight the cops. He decided to play the poor black boy being beaten by white cops just for fun.

    In Rodney King's case, these are the facts:

    1 - He was awarded 3.8 Million TRUE
    2 - His fiance was Cynthia Kelly, one of the jurors in King's civil suit against the city of Los Angeles when he was awarded $3.8 million. TRUE
    3 - "accused of using the race card" TRUE
    4 - "living with a victim mentality" TRUE
    5 - "using black race for playing the victim and obtain millions" TRUE

    To the millions of blacks living in this continent, I have to say this:

    - In Africa, You were forcibly sold by your own black people to dutch merchants and brought into this continent... Get over it.

    - Africa itself, is hell on Earth.. where unspeakable crimes occur each day... committed by black people against their own children, women and elder.

    - Start by counting your blessings, instead of crying for your misery.
    - Take care of your children. Love them. Protect them. Nurture them. Don't teach them hate.
    - Held you head high. Thrive.
    - Embrace education.
    - Abandon sorcery, makumbe, you name it.
    - Choose Life. Say no to drugs.
    - Make gangs a thing of the past.
    - Put away all the hate against society.
    - Abolish all things "black community" - that's reverse racism. Search for Morgan Freeman quotes on the subject.
    - Perhaps then, you will be seen without suspicion.

    I recommend to all of you watch Chris Rock video "How not to get your ass kicked by the police"

    Here's the link:

    Learn something from this wise video.

    And finally, to all the Hypocrites (regardless of the skin color):
    Learn to lie down... unless you're pursuing a 3.8 Million compensation.