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Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Follow-up on "It was a natural death": should have know, part ii

Celticfire has posted the latest information about the murder of Martin Lee Anderson. A second autopsy, appearntly preformed by someone who can tell the difference between massive internal hemorraging and sickle cell trait, has ruled that in fact Mr. Anderson's death wasn't so natural after all.

In response to his post, a regular commenter offered the following, to which I responded. Both are posted below:

Jack said...
I was initially saddened by the video footage but even more so now with the news of these reports. Obviously the kid had issues, but whatever they were, this is awful. Physical action should not have been taken whatsoever.

Nelson H. said...
Obviously the kid had issues"...

I'm interested in hear just what exactly the kid's "issues" are, and the analysis behind this assertion.

Specifically, I am wondering if you draw any conclusions from Celticfire's on target inclusion of the growing rate of Black incarceration, the fact that he had already been relegated to a prison-like setting (at 14), that 2 other Black youths have been murdered in Florida boot campus in recent history, and the hideously long history of Black enslavement and brutal treatment by white (and other Black) "guards."

Finally, I'd like to deepen the analysis, juxtaposing my comments against the Douglass quote (possibly my all time favorite work by him - outside of the "As goes the South" maxim, of course). The murder of Martin Lee Anderson is but one of the latest examples of Black national oppression.

First, Fredrick Douglass. As a historical subject his is quite a complicated one; standing to the left of many, yet knowingly to the right of some very important freedom fighters (Tubman, J. Brown, D. Walker, etc). Despite understanding much of the Irish question (specifically with regards to self-rule), he was never able to place the plight of his own people in a proper historical context (of colonialism and national oppression). This became most manifest as he built a huge, plantation style mansion for himself and his white wife outside DC, while urging Black sharecroppers feeling the brunt of Klan repression in the Black Belt to "stick it out" rather than emigrate to Kansas (or make any land demands for that matter - again completely misunderstanding the key demands in semi-feudal contexts).

It becomes very difficult to draw correct lessons from Martin Lee Anderson’s murder without first recognizing the deep relationships between the former slave-patrols, who later became bull-dozers, who later joined the Klan, who still work in "law-enforcement" (here I think of Celticfire's point in an earlier post concerning socialist democracy: "for who, and to do what?"), and the correct point Douglass makes in his “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July” – namely that the Fourth of July means nothing to individuals who are defined as “other” in the process of imagining American national identity.

So we return to the “issues” some claim the young, murdered Mr. Anderson had, and the environment (presented in its proper historical materialist context of Panama City’s relative closeness to the heart of Black America in the Black Belt, and the great Black urban migrations as a result of semi-feudal pauperism) in which he was raised. He may very well have had some “issues,” and I am not proposing that we disregard them. Quite to the contrary, I uphold the eloquent demands of Amilcar Cabral that all oppressed people face our shortcomings, do so fulling recognizing the context of purposeful underdevelopment and the effects of institutional violence on people, nations and culture, and share our struggle to overcome these shotcomings with our comrades and the people. But we must not allow ourselves to offer half justifications for police killings, even if we have no intention of doing so, and especially not when said killings are put of a 400 year campaign of forced labor, cultural genocide, and national oppression.

Being at a juvenile boot camp implies you have disciplinary issues. Also, he was there by court order. But listen that’s beside the point, whether he was at summer camp or a maximum security prison, he should not have been touched.

And yes, being a minority, not only am I personally sympathetic to Celtic's conclusion, but even if wasn't, I would see these examples and other figures as valid. But there’s a lot more here than statistics. I believe this situation exists for a number of reasons. One is obviously blatant racism, but there is the issue of personal responsibility. Want to see the number of minorities stop going to prison? We must stop committing crimes.

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