I'm still thinking about the murder of Sean Bell. It's eery listening to people in New York talk about the death and rattle off the litany of names, Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart, two of the many that proceeded the most famous prior to Bell's, Amadou Diallo.
It was also this week, that I received a link to this article by John Ridley appearing in Esquire, where Ridley announces "So I say this: It's time for ascended blacks to wish niggers good luck." Ridley's article essay homes in on two events in 2001, one which he believes did not deserve the backing and attention it received by African-Americans, the death of Cincinnati's Timothy Thomas at the hands of office Steven Roach. The other event, the immense power wielded by Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell during that same year, of course climaxing with the events surrounding September 11th and its aftermath.
I would agree with Ridley that Rice and Powell do not get enough credit for their impressive professional accomplishments. I have long argued that Rice is an intriguing example of the post-Civil Rights story because her accomplishments have been superb, but her politics have been surprisingly anti-thetical to those traditionally associated with the movement. Rather than banish her, I think her presence calls for more examination of Black conservatism in the 60's.
However, it should also be noted that Powell participated in two of the most unpopular or at least controversial, and longest lasting wars in this nation's history, Vietnam, and the fifteen year's war in the Middle East. High ranking chiefs, Black or White in either of these wars, have managed to ascend to the status of their predecessors in WWI and WWII. But I digress....
Reading Ridley's article in light of the Bell incident, brought up a question, do we remember a wealthy or upper middle-class Black person being murdered by Police?
There are testimonies by figures like Danny Glover and their bouts with racial profiling, but can someone recall when one of these random, unjust, police shootings involved a relatively affluent African-American. I can't.
Some are reading this and saying a "Black person dead is a Black person dead," and that's true, but I would hope that we all could agree that class does matter. I'm not going to accept any arguments that rich Black folks stay above the fray that has to the death of our less affluent brothers and sisters, because if the police shootings are as random and inexpicably racist as we'd like to believe, then surely the cops aren't thinking, "That's Bob James, CEO of James Inc."
There's another reason that I bring this up. The Bell incident occured on the eve of the failed OJ Simpson interview and book release where he goes through a "hypothetical" reenactment of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Correct me if I am wrong, but when Simpson interrupted broadcasts of the '94 NBA finals and my friends were set to watch him and Al Cowlings escorted by police through LA, weren't they driving in a car? If I remember correctly, it was a big white Bronco wasn't it? I could be mistaken.
Oddly enough, the deadly weapon that Bell and his friends were wielding was a car. Just yesterday a police lawyer was on the air saying that the authors were justified in shooting because there was a weapon involved, "a car." A Nissan Altima to be exact.
No one should deny the fact that the officers involved in the Bell shooting believed there life was in danger when that car was put in gear. That said, we also recognize that shooting to impede the car also implies shooting to stop the passengers.
Of course it's coincidence that Bell would dovetail behind Simpson in the national headlines, random even, but no less random then the fates of these two men when they tried driving off.
Now if Ridley wants to argue that "It's time for ascended blacks to wish niggers good luck," then I hope that he realizes that he's at least a decade late in offering his greetings.
The Nightshift Chronicler