What July 4th Means to Black America

by Alberto N Jones

Sherdavia Jenkins. Photo: nbcmiami.com
Sherdavia Jenkins. Photo: nbcmiami.com

HAVANA TIMES — A moving article written this week by columnist Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald marks the 10th anniversary of the violent death in “punk gangster” crossfire of 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins in Miami. This X-Ray image of the human disaster that is rooted in that city and has metastasized throughout the United States suggests the existence of an ethnic cleansing program in place.

In a tragi-comedy ritual, ex-Congressman Kendrick Meek was speechless, stricken by grief, and that personification of a shameless Florida politician, then Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio, said “we sit on a crisis of epic proportions,” something I had noticed shortly after arriving in the US as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980.

Tensions were very high in Miami, because of the brutal murder of Afro American businessman and Viet Nam veteran Arthur Mc Duffie at the hands of 4 Hispanic (2 Cubans) police, who smashed his skull into a pulp with their flashlight.  The case was transferred to Tampa, where an all-white jury acquitted all perpetrators, setting off the first city wide riot I had seen in my life.

Frustrated neighbors from Overtown, Liberty City and other predominantly black neighborhoods set their community on fire and the anticipated response of the governor was to unleash thousands of National Guards armed to their teeth with M-16s, armored vehicles and helicopters, which left in the aftermath 15 dead, nearly a hundred wounded civilians and 100 million dollars in damages on the victims, not on the perpetrators.

Since then, the list of cruel, vicious and blatant murders of blacks and Latinos with impunity across the United States are too many to enumerate.  I painfully recall Illnor Bumpers, an 84 year old grandmother shot repeatedly and killed by 4 cops in her living room in the Bronx.  Amadou Diallo, an African emigrant, was opening his apartment door in the Bronx when he was shot at 41 times and hit 19 times.

Most thought we had seen the worst brutality, perversion and cruelty of a nationwide deranged police force when Abner Louima was sodomized with a broomstick in a police station in Brooklyn or when 43 year old Eric Garner, who was peddling “illegal” cigarettes in Staten Island, was attacked by 9 police officers and choked to death on the sidewalk in broad daylight.

But the vicious police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice with a fusillade of gunfire while playing with a toy gun in a park, goes beyond all logic or reasoning, precisely in a country that is enamored with guns, allows guns to be purchased as easy as buying bread and where ownership is legally inscribed in its Constitution and enforced by the National Rifle Association.

After these revolting examples, why waste any time with the notorious killings of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson or the wicked murder of Freddy Gray by Baltimore police?

In another section of Mr. Pitts article, he offers a chilling sample of children who have been murdered across the United States such as Joseph Spencer 12, Michael Alvin 12, Roberto Lopez 4, Rosay J. Butler 3, Gabriel Martinez 5, Delric Miller 8 months, Antonio Santiago 13 months, David Garth 12, Ja’ Quail Mansaw 7 months or King Carter 6 years old. No steps have been taken by any government institution to eradicate this gun violence epidemic.

The horrors of centuries of slavery, whippings, lynching, and massacres in Colfax, 1873, Arkansas, 1919, Tulsa 1921, Rosewood 1923 or the monstrous killing of Emett Till in Mississippi, have not touched the moral fiber of a nation with a tarnished past.

Yet, the United States government has dedicated years of investigations, congressional hearings and millions of dollars trying to find Hillary Clinton or the Obama administration guilty of failing to save the lives of 4 spies infiltrated in Benghazi that were ambushed and killed in a CIA compound, euphemistically described as an Embassy.

Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass

These irrefutable facts are the basis for Frederick Douglass’ most legendary speech in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852 when he said:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.


18 thoughts on “What July 4th Means to Black America

  • No clue Dan and there are of course no reliable statistics.

    That said, I’ve witnessed many, many clashes between (mostly) blacks and cops in Cuba – many times with the blacks being armed with machetes, etc. – and I have never seen a cop pull a gun. To subdue them they usually just beat the guys with their batons.

    I’ve also seen gangs of (mostly) black guys win in a fight against cops, with the cops finally retreating in disgrace.

  • How many Cuban Blacks are killed by Cuban cops …..?

  • That’s odd… I’ve seen that photo of Fredrick Douglass on this website before. Actually, I have this feeling that somehow or other, his picture is almost ubiquitously present in the comments section. Now it wouldn’t be the internet picture (whatever they are called) of an American black, who wears his race on his sleeve, unabashed chauvinist and who must dedicate hours a day to picking the most minute nits from a society, Cuba, to which he does not belong, other than as a foreigner married to a Cuban woman, would it ? Strange that he would be so hostile to Cuba, yet turn such a blind eye to the treatment of his own, beloved government to his own people to such an extent that he doesn’t even make his habitual appearance on this comment board. And we’re not talking about cops stopping blacks and asking for their carne (the Cuban equivalent of Driving While Black) we’re talking about grannies getting blown away with shotguns by the police. If I remember correctly, this guy even brags about his Mom sitting next to Rosa Parks on a bus or something, and having an uncle who was a Panther. It doesn’t seem to make sense.Maybe he’ll explain.

  • I think Ronin makes a very good point. Whenever Havana Times brings up some ugly aspect of American life it detracts from our on going trashing of everything to do with Cuba. So lets get back to what some of us do so well. Trashing and bashing Cuba. I miss hearing about how Cuban school children are forced to smile for tourists and how the Cuban people don’t have access to Libraries. About how much the Cuban people are unhappy. And my all time favorite, how the American Economic Blockage has little or no adverse effect on the Cuban Economy.

  • The key fact to determine here is, were they nine times as likely to be engaging in behavior that would lead to anyone, regardless of their race, being shot by the police. I
    am NOT saying that they were, by the way. It’s just that statistics
    showing that one ethnic group is more likely than another to be in one category or another — being shot by police, winning Nobel Prizes for medicine — does not by itself indicate that discrimination is going on.

    America is a violent country. I had an acquaintance — we were young radical leftists in the 60s and 70s — who was shot to death by the Los Angeles Police Department, supposedly while he was naked. (More details here: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2209&dat=19770826&id=rHdjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oXkNAAAAIBAJ&pg=7116,5100254&hl=en‘.) I don’t know the facts, but I remember him as a rather gentle, slightly eccentric person, unlikely to threaten policemen. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t automatically exonerate the police when I hear about these incidents.

    The point is: you have to know the facts. And there are a lot of people invested in making a case against the police regardless of the facts.

  • Sorry, the link wouldn’t open for me here in Cuba so I made the assumption that it was referring to the fact how blacks kill each other at a horrendous rate in the US.

    For a black person in the US being killed by a cop is statistically very low, compared to the 90+% chance of being killed by another black person.

    It’s truly a tragic situation.

  • I see that i was not clear. The article refers to deaths at the hands of police officers.

    “Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, according to the findings of a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year.”

  • I’m sorry, did i miss something, this is “Havana Times” not “U.S. Times.” This is a publication to discuss and be informed of Cuban issues, not to get some anti-police rant. Plus, if you think if it’s sooooo bad in this country, you are always welcomed to move out and go where you might think it’s better than this. Love it or leave it 🙂

  • Even for you George that’s a completely nonsense reply, making no logical sense whatsoever.

  • Yes, they’re very efficient at killing each other. It’s a tragic state of affairs.

  • “… More and more I am coming to believe that the U.S. needs to grant a state to Afro-Americans…”


  • What?! Are you joking! Cuban’s steal every day to survive and no one bats an eyelid, after all it is technically theirs anyway thanks to the Revolution.

  • Cubans reading this need to know what actually happened in each instance.

    Let’s take the most famous of these cases, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Here is the relevant part of the Wikipedia article on the case, where I believe the actual facts are disputed by no one:

    “Shortly before the shooting, Brown stole several packages of cigarillos
    from a nearby convenience store and shoved the store clerk who tried to
    stop him. Brown was accompanied by his friend Dorian Johnson.
    Wilson had been notified by police dispatch of the robbery and
    descriptions of the two suspects. He encountered Brown and Johnson as
    they were walking down the middle of the street. Wilson said that he
    realized that the two men matched the robbery suspects’ descriptions. ]
    Wilson backed up his cruiser and blocked them. An altercation ensued
    with Brown and Wilson struggling through the window of the police
    vehicle for control of Wilson’s gun until it was fired. Brown and Johnson then fled, with Wilson in pursuit of Brown. Brown stopped and turned to face the officer, then Brown moved toward him. Wilson fired at Brown several times, all shots striking him in the front, with the possible exception of the two bullets fired into Brown’s right arm. In the entire altercation, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets; the last was probably the fatal shot. Brown was unarmed and moving toward Wilson when the final shots were fired. Witness reports differed as to what Brown was doing with his hands when he was shot, but none of the witnesses who said that Brown had his hands up in surrender were later found to be credible.”

    So let me ask Cuban readers: suppose two young men stole something, using violence, from a shop in Cuba, and when confronted by a single policeman in a car, tried to reach through the window and get his gun away from him …. and then one of them, when the policeman got out of the car, started moving toward him?

    By the way, 129 policemen in the United States were killed in the line of duty last year. You don’t hear anything about them, do you? And you hear very little about the general mayhem in the Black areas, almost all of it committed by the residents, not by the police, as was the case of Sherdavia Jenkins which began this article, somehow miraculously transformed into an attack on the police.

    We can perhaps say that Officer Wilson over-reacted, that he should have aimed for his attacker’s legs, should have been cool and collected despite having been physically attacked by two thugs. Perhaps the 129 officers murdered last year did try to play it this way.

    One thing is clear: the people screaming loudest about police brutality couldn’t care less about life for America’s Black population, who actually suffer from too little police presence in their communities, not too much. These people have other aims in mind.

  • My last attempt to agitate on this issue was criticised however I will try again. The principle problem identified by intellectuals and practitioners of African descent in the English speaking (former ?) colonies is of having a place to call home for the descendants of those who were forcibly removed from their homeland. For Marcus Garvey and Rastafarians, the key was “back to Africa”. For Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, the key was having their own state. Neither of these groups were particularly interested in integration on “White” people’s terms. The U.S. is not Britain of France (which have their own but different problems). “Black” people did not arrive in the U.S. by choice, although now this is getting confused as modern day Africans have started to arrive, (witness the debates about Barack Obama etc.) More and more I am coming to believe that the U.S. needs to grant a state to Afro-Americans. Of course there is already a state in the Americas that is precisely this, and that is Haiti, though it was never granted, but acquired through forceful rebellion. On the other side of the world there is a state create purportedly for Jews called Israel. Comparing the two is revealing. Whilst one coincides with the U.S.’s aims for the region, the other is an anathema to those same aims in the U.S.’s backyard. Why can’t Haiti be like Israel? Why couldn’t a “Black” state in the U.S. be like Israel? “Whites” could even live there too, just like Palestinians can live in Israel. Is that so frightful? There seems no problem with supporting Israel in such a situation. And of course any “Black” who wished to integrate with “Whites” would be free to remain in the U.S. As for the situation in Cuba, I intend to talk about that later…

  • A sad truth.

  • The article fails to discuss the very real progress that has been made in the United States on racial equality. A key problem are the charlatan’s that use the Black and Latino communities for their won aims versus promoting policies that set them free. Less hand outs and more opportunity to compete is what is needed. This is not to say that a safety net is not important. It is just not enough. Giving people the means to run their own lives is so hard for global elites. Africa is an example of a continent showered with aid for generations, but what it really needs is favorable trade terms to build it’s own means of production. Breaking the dependency cycle is a difficult thing when your own side keeps you down.

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