Cop killings, riots, retaliation - and humanity after all

Chapter 62


After James' and Barbara's tragedy:

You explained it to me, I must admit,
a long rap about "no knock" being legislated
for the people you've always hated
in this hell-hole you/we call home.
the man will say to protect the people from.
themselves. Who's going to protect me from you?
No knocking, head rocking, enter shocking, shooting,
cursing, killing, crying, lying and being white.
NO KNOCK told my brother Fred Hampton
bullet holes all over the place.
But if you're a wise "no knocker" you'll tell your
knocking' lackeys no knock on my brother's head
no knock on my sister's head
and double lock your door
because someone may be NO KNOCKING..... For you!




On the day I became one with the suffering I could no longer depict it. The scream from people in the closed system is unheard by the world on the outside.



A white policeman who was beating a black woman was shot down in hurt and anger by a young man from a roof top. In revenge, 5,000 cops marched through the ghetto in a power display to frighten the blacks.



Every time a policeman is killed by a black sniper the entire apparatus of colonial power is set in motion in this way.



But there is a deeper tragedy underlying these sad police murders. 



This 26-year-old widow of the dead officer comes as he did from the lower middle class. Even though it is impossible to excuse the brutality of the police, one can very well understand it - exploited and downtrodden as these whites have often been themselves, with such grim prospects in life that they had no other choice than to join the ranks of the old overseers.



The racism and limited trust in fellow beings instilled in them by their background are reinforced by their nervousness at being occupation troops in a culture to which they do not belong.



It has become common to just attack the police but it is too often forgotten that they are just as much the victims of the system as they are its representatives.



Looking at their narrow lips and hardened faces it is all too easy to despair.



One can only infer that they will forever be marked with bitterness, hatred, and apprehension.



But did they mold these faces of their own free will?



Or did their lives force their faces into masks like closed visors?



Yes, it is difficult to change society into a more just system, for to even see the necessity for change means to have faith in the inner goodness of humanity and it means in your everyday life to be able to look beyond and negate the master-slave roles, everywhere around.



The duty of our generation must be to change this system so that people can become fully human all over the world, not least for our own survival.



I do not think that I would have been able to survive among all these peculiar people in America if I had not had a strong faith in the best of people.



If not, the worst would have gotten the upper hand - and I would have been obliterated.



My journey has taught me that I can no longer hate any single person or group or even class of people - not even the worst exploiters.



 If I said that I hated the Rockefeller family I would quite simply not be honest now that I know some of its members.



Certainly it is true that Nelson Rockefeller ordered the massacre at Attica and murdered 41 inmates who were only demanding prison reform.



But even though I was present at the mass funeral and heard the armed Black Panthers in the church shout "death to Rockefeller, jail the rich, free the poor" - and even though I knew several of their relatives among the weeping families - and even though I once again saw the color of blood in the Afro-American flag... yes, even then I was not capable of hating Rockefeller.



For I know that there behind the role he was brought up to perform and believe in within the system, is concealed a human being who, under other conditions, would not have become a murderer in a desperate attempt to subjugate the underclass. If we understand that the underclass is murdering and robbing because of its environment, we must also logically acknowledge that the upper class in its actions, thinking, and tradition is also slave bound by its milieu.



The more I let myself become brainwashed into the upper class, the more its actions started to seem valid and understandable to me. I would be dishonest if I tried to conceal that I have come to like the people I've met from America's upper class.



When I condemn the upper class it is really a condemnation of the system which created these classes, and which teaches their members to rob and murder - not only in the U.S.A., but also in the Third World; - a system so strong and inhuman that it cannot be changed through attacking its symbols.



If I had hated the Rockefellers as symbols, I would have denied them the humaneness they had shown me as a vagabond, under conditions not dictated by the system. The longer I wandered as a vagabond in this system, the more I lost the desire to ever again become a part of it. Everywhere the system had given people a false face.



The more distinctly these contorted masks outlined themselves for me, the stronger was my urge to penetrate in behind them and look out through their narrow eye holes. It was never any beautiful sight: just hatred and fear and distrustfulness. I did not wish to become a part of that hatred.



I learned that it is easier for people to condemn and hate than to understand. For hatred is based on one-sided and simplified considerations and most people are so absorbed in the pain of not being able to live up to the norms of their milieu that it is easier for them to reduce reality to symbols rather than understand it.



It is far easier when reading a book like this one to hate white Americans than to try and comprehend them, because in that way we avoid fighting that part of the system which is to be found in ourselves. Not until we realize how we ourselves are a part of the oppression can we understand, condemn and change the forces which dehumanize us all.



In my journey I was able to survive outside the system, because I always sought the human being behind the false facade. But everywhere behind these facades I saw the defeat of love. The more these threads connecting people in a wholesome society were missing, the more petrified and impenetrable seemed the masks I always had to penetrate to survive. But even within this oppression it is possible to find many shades of humanity. Even though love between people has been killed in this system - we all know that love can shoot up through the asphalt whenever... wherever...