Writer and Poet Clint Smith on the moment black lives began to officially matter, and the long history of pre-smartphone police brutality and state-sanctioned racism that preceded it.
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Transcript - In Thomas Jefferson’s memoir, Notes on the State of Virginia. He wrote that the slave is incapable of love. The slave is incapable of possessing and sustaining complex emotion. And that black people are inferior to whites in both the endowments of body and mind. And so for me that’s interesting because the man who was largely considered the intellectual founding father of this country responsible in large part for the conception of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution didn’t think I was fully human. He didn’t think that I was capable of loving my mother. Didn’t think I was capable of loving my sister, my brother, my partner. Didn’t think I was capable of having passion, of creating art. And so there’s, you know, an entire history from the very inception of this country of black people being dehumanized by the state and people who represent the state.
And so that’s why I think it’s important to have this socio historical context and understanding so that when we see a police killing black men and women in the streets we recognize that this isn’t sort of something happening out of nowhere. That this is actually consistent with the narrative that has been given about to black people throughout this country’s history.
And so it’s part of what’s happened now is that we live in a hyper documented era in which everything is being captured on camera phones and in videos and gone viral and shared on different social medial platforms. And a lot of people are saying where did all this come from. Like how are the police doing this. Like why are they doing this. This just happened out of nowhere. When actually this has been happening for an incredibly long time in black communities. We’ve been experiencing disproportionate incarceration. We’ve been experiencing stop and frisk. We’ve been experiencing police brutality on an ongoing basis for decades and decades and centuries if we’re being honest. And what’s happened now is that now there’s sort of these primary sources, so to speak, these empirical evidence of these events transpiring in America and the world is being forced to like look themselves in the mirror and reckon with how so many of us have been complicit in allowing such a thing to take place for so long and to really be forced to ask ourselves what are we doing or what are we not doing to allow this state sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies to continue. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/WQXhWs.
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