By Oscar Blayton
NNPA Guest Columnist
In the depths of the Cold War that raged in the early 1960s, the USSR was scoring points against the United States in the court of world opinion because the world could witness how hollow and hypocritical was the pronouncement that in America, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”
Black Folk in the South were being beaten publicly and lynched in the shadows for demanding that America live up to its promise. And throughout the entire country, Black Folk were being treated unfairly and routinely denied justice.
The Russians only had to point to the news stories coming out of Alabama, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. and say: “This is what American justice looks like – “America” is a lie.” The Russians knew that “America” as a projection on the world stage was not a true image of the country that lynched and brutalized Black Folk. The motives of the Russians may have been purely political, but there facts were correct. And partially because the Soviet Union shamed the United States before the world, many politicians, including, John F. Kennedy, felt compelled to do something about it.
A half a century later, “America” is still a lie. The truth of the equality of all men [and now, women, as well is a thin veneer of a sham that can not hide the ugly truth that, in America, Black Folk are routinely subjected to fundamental injustices. The exposure of malicious law enforcement officers – through now ever present cell phone cameras and increasing body cameras – has shone a bright light on many of these injustices.
The cameras are changing the national narrative, and the “word of the police officer” is no longer sacrosanct. We now have proof that many police officers will lie – even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact that many police officers lie has long been known to Black folk. But it was not a fact that the larger American community was unwilling to accept.
But today, the failure of prosecutors to bring murderous police officers to justice, in spite of clearly documented video evidence, proves that there is still too little interest in treating Black folk fairly. And the use of tortured and false logic by judges, who tie the law into knots in order to justify their refusal to punish guilty cops, makes it clear that justice is not meant for Black folk in America.
For almost a year, the anthem of Black activists and allies has been “Black Lives Matter;” and the resounding response, through the actions from many segments of our society has been: “No, Black Lives Do Not Matter.”
Politicians, eager to gain Black votes, mouth the words with suspicious glibness; but the actions of those in power continue to try to grind Black folk into the dust. And conservative pundits and many moderate citizens attack “Black Lives Matter” as being exclusive and hurtful to the feelings of Whites. They try to divert attention away from the ugly reality by insisting on the use of the slogan “All Lives Matter.”
It is important to be clear about what America does, not what it says.
If Brian T. Encinia is not charged with assault and false imprisonment of Sandra Bland in Texas, America is still a lie.
If the two University of Cincinnati officers who lied to cover up for Ray Tensing are not charged with making false reports, America is still a lie.
It is clear that so many Americans do not care about the lives of Black folk. So, we have to learn a lesson from history and take our case to the court of world opinion. America will never be accepted as a world leader with the bodies of innocent Black folk hanging around its neck. People of other nations are not so naïve as to think that America will treat them with respect and dignity when it respect and value its own citizens. And until “America” stops being a lie and treats all people equally, it will be no more than an offense to human decency and should be considered as outside the world’s community of civilized nations.
Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps. combat pilot and human rights activists who practices law in Virginia.