This video is a replay of the Danger of ADOS webinar, hosted by The Pan African Congress, North American Delegation. It features Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor, writer, publisher, and communications specialist. In this webinar, J.A.M. Aiwuyor gives an in-depth overview of how the ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery) movement is harmful to the Black community by promoting divisive anti-Black rhetoric, white supremacy, online violence against the Black community, and voter suppression.
Every day some where in America, Black communities are terrorized by police violence. Some well-known examples are: Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Abery, Mike Brown, Aiyana Jones, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Botham Jean, and Natasha McKenna. But the list goes on.
In the video above, I discuss why it’s time for us to stop being surprised by police violence and focus on steadfast, long term strategies that will lead towards defunding police and redirecting resources back to our communities. This includes exploring and reading abolitionist writings for a historical understanding of how the carceral state is inherently anti-Black and must be dismantled.
A few months ago, I was leaving a store when I noticed a truck plastered with Confederate flag bumper stickers. One of the stickers stated, “DEPORT ILLEGALS.” I was immediately struck by the irony of the statement. Considering the fact that Confederates were traitors, they should be what we refer to as illegal.
I know that removing Confederate statues, flags and monuments won’t end structural racism. I know that removing Confederate flags won’t end police brutality. I know that the broken statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis won’t heal the wounds of oppression.
But I still want to watch them fall.
I want to see them crumble in bits. I want to see them flung into the water. I want the heads knocked off and graffiti to cover their names.
The point that many are missing, is that the existence of these statues and monuments is an act of terrorism itself.
I grew up in Milledgeville, GA, a small town that at one point was the capital of Georgia. I grew up surrounded by Confederate flags, it was normalized. White students would wear their Confederate flag shirts to school with no issue, while Black students were reprimanded for wearing FUBU. In the 6th grade, I attended Georgia Military College Preparatory School, located at the Old Capitol Building where Georgian politicians voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. I attended school on those grounds.
After school, many of us would go to the Mary Vinson Memorial Library to study. The library is named after the wife of Congressman Carl Vinson, a segregationist that signed onto The Southern Manifesto. The manifesto was drafted and signed by southern politicians who were angry with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka ruling that racially segregating schools was unconstitutional. Across the street, from the library was a statue dedicated to Confederate soldiers. According to the Union Recorder, Milledgeville’s local newspaper, the monument was “constructed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s (UDC) Robert E. Lee Chapter and first unveiled in 1912.”
Surrounding the statue was a small plot of cotton that grew in the spring and summer. Yes, they had a plot of cotton growing around a Confederate monument when I was 12 years old.
The UDC chapter still exists. A few years ago the monument was hit by a car and instead of removing the memorial, the chapter was excited for the opportunity to rebuild it.
Inside the Mary Vinson Memorial Library was a glass encasement of Confederate memorabilia. I used to stand underneath the light where the uniform medals shone. Here I was, a little Black girl from Georgia, my surroundings at odds with my existence. For the sake of history, as some would say.
A few years earlier, my grandmother told me the story of how my family escaped from sharecropping when she was a small child. My great-grandparents Flossie and George Wilder fled with their children until they reached Augusta, GA where they lived the rest of their days. It seems like a long time ago, except that Flossie and George were still alive when I was born. In fact, I have fond memories of great-granddaddy teaching me about money and great-grandmama chewing her snuff, despite his disapproval.
George died when I was a little girl but Flossie lived until I was a sophomore in college. My mother remembers my great-grandfather still being paranoid, of white men potentially capturing him, when she was a child.
He lived with a reality that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren had often misunderstood. We weren’t just surrounded by flags and monuments. The world around George and Flossie served as a constant threat and reminder of the terror of slavery and sharecropping. The world around them celebrated terrorists. Years had passed, yet still, the world around me did the same.
I don’t want that for my daughters.
Protestors against police brutality and systemic racism have every right to knock these monuments down if local municipalities and the federal government refuse to do so.
It’s time for America to deport Confederates, send them back to the land of defeat. Remember them as they were, terrorists, enslavers, traitors, and losers. It’s long been time to watch them crumble.
Neo-slavery, neo-colonialism, wage slavery, systemic anti-Black racism, and oppression – I’m looking forward to all of those crumbling too.
Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor
Somebody needs to tell me when Michael Brown has been chosen as the face of Black oppression…There are so many great people to embrace as heroes in the Black community. Deciding that you’re going to embrace a guy that knocked over a convenient store, and then according the grand jury testimony acted in ways that would get my children shot…that’s your hero?” – Joe Scarborough, MSNBC Morning Joe
Dear Joe Scarborough,
The systematic and perpetual oppression of Black Americans is not an issue to be toyed with. Let’s be clear here. This is not just about Mike Brown. Mike Brown, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford and so on are examples of how law enforcement is allowed to become judge, jury and executioner when it comes to Black lives. The anger and fury expressed by Black Americans is based on perpetual violence at the hands of law enforcement. To you, the police protect and serve but many of us need protection from the police. The denial of your privilege prevents you from acknowledging this.
In our lives, the jury decision not to indict does not suddenly absolve Darren Wilson of Mike Brown’s death. Historically U.S. jury decisions do not sway in favor of protecting Black lives. This recent decision is just another painful reminder of that fact.
Furthermore, the narrative that victims must be flawless in order to have justice is not only absurd but dehumanizing. The moment a Black body touches the ground, media is clamoring to search their records. Even 12-year-old Tamir Rice was not exempt.
This is about Black lives being threatened by law enforcement on a daily basis. All that is needed is a story/narrative which depicts the person as threatening. Suddenly, by invoking “fear” Black deaths are justified with all minds cleared.
The “I was afraid of a Black person” narrative is allowing murderers to run free in the name of court-justified trepidation. The Rosewood Massacre of 1923 is an example of the horrors Black Americans have faced with court refusal to prosecute their murderers.
We’ve been dealing with this for a very long time.
Civil rights leader and journalist Ida B. Wells spent years documenting lynching’s across America, bearing witness to crimes that would go unpunished. Unfortunately the words from her speech Lynch Law In America given in 1900 still ring true 114 years later.
In her opening remarks, Wells gives a chilling overview that is painfully familiar,
“Our country’s national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob. It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an “unwritten law” that justifies them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal.”
Wells continues, “The thief who stole a horse, the bully who ‘jumped’ a claim, was a common enemy.”
The narrative of Mike Brown “the bully” or Mike Brown “the thief” is so eerily familiar. The storyline had already been created for Darren Wilson to utilize.
Wells also states, “In fact, for all kinds of offenses – and, for no offenses – from murders to misdemeanors, men and women are put to death without judge or jury; so that, although the political excuse was no longer necessary, the wholesale murder of human beings went on just the same.”
Approximately 114 years later, Darren Wilson still had the privilege of making himself judge, jury and executioner with no penalty. In fact, he’s become richer for it.
We are still living under the tyranny of America’s unwritten Lynch Laws. We’re then blamed for our own deaths for failing to respond properly to slave codes.
In the words of Jesse Williams, “We are not making this up.”
When we scream Mike Brown’s name at protests, we are recognizing him as a human being. We are crying out to the world, that our brother has been slain.
See here the blood that was spilled.
See here his mother’s tears.
See here he was just a boy that deserved to live like all the other boys.
As we recognize his humanity, Darren Wilson calls him a “demon” and compares him to wrestler “Hulk Hogan.” Referring to Mike as if he were some wild beast to be tamed. The St. Louis Police Department called him a “myth.” Even the New York Times said he was, “No Angel,” as if angel status was a prerequisite for living. This is also a reminder that for African Americans, mainstream media is often complicit in perpetuating stereotypes and fear mongering narratives surrounding our lives.
So no, we’re not making Mike Brown a hero. We’re asserting his humanity because if we don’t do it no one else will. His life represents our lives.
We yell Mike Brown’s name, shut down malls, boycott stores, block highways and chain ourselves to train stations because there is no other option for us.
Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer said the unforgettable words, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” That meant she refused to stop working until the world was changed. As the children of her legacy we are going to do the same thing. We don’t want to die and have the world think it justified.
Mike Brown was human and he deserved to live. Whether you think he was a choirboy, college student, or thief, Darren Wilson had no right to take his life. Darren Wilson had no right to make himself judge and jury. Darren Wilson would have never killed Mike Brown if he weren’t terrorizing him in lynch law fashion, for walking down the street. And we know this, because we have lived this.
So yes, Joe Scarborough. You should get used to hearing the names Mike Brown, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford and so on. Because we’re not going to let you or anyone else in the world forget them. We are not trash to have our lives thrown away, forgotten simply because our story no longer amuses you.
Black lives matter.
Jessica Ann Mitchell
Update: Joe’s Response