“Police cars, manned by officers with helmets and shotguns followed many of the buses on the orders of the new police commissioner…His theory…was that only violence by Negroes could motivate other Negroes to stay off the buses. ‘Negro goon squads reportedly have been organized here to intimidate Negroes who ride Montgomery City Lines buses today.” — Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch
“We’ve received (info) from reliable sources that threats to shoot and kill officers have been made.”
“The Baltimore Police Department has issued a national alert warning law enforcement agencies across the country…about credible threat that gang members may be organizing to “take out” police officers.” — Baltimore Warns RI Police of “Credible Threats” Against Cops by Gangs (April 27, 2015)
To paraphrase W.E.B. Du Bois, an educated Negro is a dangerous Negro. To take it a step or two further, a black person that doesn’t accept their place as a Negro, as a Nigger, as less than, is a dangerous Negro. It seemed this city and other cities were convinced that Black Liberation organizations would lead a revolution against them. You can still see this in the rhetoric surrounding the “war on cops,” which by all data is completely untrue. But this is nothing new, as the above quotes show, and we could go further back to find hundreds of quotes about the innate violence of black people.
This fear of black violence becomes especially dangerous, not for those who fear it, but for those who are feared: leaders of Black Liberation organizations, such as Young Gifted and Black. Leaders in Black Liberation must accept that their life is on the line. The spreading and hyping of such fear means that police departments, vigilantes, and white terrorists, all see us as the most dangerous threat. Fox News has called our movement and its organizations a hate group and, at times, terrorists.
Remember, Martin Luther King Jr was considered the most dangerous man in America by the FBI. Yes, that King, the one that everyone always loves to quote one snippet of his “I have a Dream Speech” without realizing how radical he really was. How he supported full-on civil disobedience during his last days of life. How he said that reparations must be paid. How he spoke out against American imperialism. That’s the King I know, the one who indeed might have been the most dangerous man in America.
Why are the Kings, the Malcolm Xs, the Black Panthers, and the YGBs considered so dangerous? The short answer is that we make America, particularly white America, reflect on the terror and horror that is lived in this nation every day. We challenge their system of power. The horrors of our past are still present, not gone in a bygone era, but here today. They exist in different forms, through concentrated poverty, police killings, and mass incarceration, or 21st-century slavery.
Today in Madison, I feel that we’ve seen it with the targeted harassment of Brandi Grayson by the Madison Police Department and with Cierra Finkley, a black woman, being arrested for the crime of surviving domestic violence. (Note: Our DA has recently decided to not pursue those charges, but the case remains open.) We previously saw this, tragically, in the death of Tony Robinson, who Matt Kenny saw as a threat to his life and felt the need to steal another black body from us.
The destruction of the black body is quite alive here today. The mirror we hold up today to America, challenging this dream we float in, screaming for us to wake up, is mixed with the deeply held belief that blacks are inherently violent. What comes out on the other end makes those fighting for freedom targets of a white supremacist apparatus so ingrained most people don’t even know they’re taking part in it.
So what can we do? What can we do? It’s about what we must do; we must be those “Dangerous Negroes” for all of our futures. Because this nation is a “burning house” and to save it we must liberate ourselves, but it begins with those most oppressed.
What are we to do? We must fight and shift the power from the slave masters and plantation owners, the corporate sponsors that put capital above the human body, where the black body has suffered the most. We must shift the power, as they hold the strings of our politicians. We must look past individual political saviors, the latest being Bernie Sanders, and look at the power we hold. We must leverage the corruption of our system and find ways to pull the strings of our politicians, to beat the Koch brothers at their own game. Should it be through building a Super PAC that engages and listens to the people, one that is a liberation organization at its heart, one that organizes as much as it helps elect candidates in more traditional means. Look beyond being reactionary and go on the offensive.
We are outgunned, outmaneuvered, out-funded because we have less money, but if we combine that with us, the people, we can infiltrate from the ground up and dismantle it from the outside and inside. From the local level up we must become, as Churchill (a white supremacist in his own right) said in his speech to our congress after Pearl Harbor, we must be, “The masters of our fate; that the task which has been set us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause and an unconquerable will-power, salvation will not be denied us.”
With dedication, with focus, with will power, and faith in our cause we can navigate the course of our history and create our own fate. We must look beyond the next year and look at how we can win 30 years from now. We must play the long game and be careful with each move. But what we must make sure we keep doing is we must keep being Dangerous Negroes, with other dangerous people of color and white accomplices riding with us. Dangerous doesn’t mean violent, just those that stand against an unjust and inhumane order and threaten the order.