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Michael Brown: The Militarization of White Supremacy

Police Fire Tear Gas, Clear Streets in Ferguson

At this point,  I’m certain that you’ve already heard about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri because of the police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Scholars and activists have been writing about this for days as more details unfold from the battle field. As hunting season for black flesh is in its prime for white supremacist USA, discussions are taking place about the militarization of white supremacy, the continued devaluation of black life, and the hypocrisy of “protection” in the US where whiteness is systematically protected, and blackness systematically eliminated.

As most of White America grieves the death of a white man who willingly killed himself, the rest of us are left on the margins waiting for our humanity to be recognized. We wait for white folks to dry their tears for Robin Williams so that they can turn their gaze towards our own situation considering we are in a battle for our lives. Ironically, the topic of depression and suicide has been circulating on the internet because of Williams, despite the fact that depression and PTSD has plagued the black community for generations. As people are trying to dodge bullets in Ferguson (and in other states in the U.S.) we can only imagine the traumatic mindset that comes along with being a target in a battlefield.

I’m writing this post because I think support for Mike Brown in yet another online platform demonstrates a unique form of viral solidarity, a constant reminder to any casual visitor to black websites that we all “raise our fists” in the air for the struggle.

I think one of the most important discussions to emerge from the recent violent collisions with the police force is the hypocrisy in what constitutes protection, and who is allowed to protect themselves. 22 year old John Crawford was recently shot and killed by police in Walmart for carrying around a TOY gun in the SAME country where white gun rights activists routinely go into restaurants with REAL guns and are respectfully asked to leave.


The ARMED men who were ASKED to leave Chipotle. Another visual example of the militarization of white supremacy.

One could argue that police were never interested in the business of protecting black people. In fact, they’re supposed to serve and protect citizens, and black people in the U.S. are illegal immigrants. We’re consistently reminded that we don’t belong, whether it’s a confederate flag plastered on a pickup truck, or police consistently patrolling brown areas.

We are reminded that we can be jailed any day; we can be beaten any minute; that our lives can be taken away any second.

I’m glad that black people are standing up and fighting back. For far too long, we have tried to be peaceful in a nation that keeps committing violence upon our bodies. Police are terrorists for black people. Whether you’re crossing a street like Dr. Ersula Ore, or walking like Mike Brown, or playing with toys in Walmart like John Crawford, we are reminded that we don’t have access to innocence. That innocence is defined around white bodies, and therefore, we are forever marked as guilty. The police force is the military for white supremacy.

Greg Howard from the Concourse states:

“Officers have tanks now. They have drones. They have automatic rifles, and planes, and helicopters, and they go through military-style boot camp training… The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he’ll reasonably think that his job isn’t simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying…”

We are the permanent enemy. As long as our skin is black, we remain targets for the white hunting force.

racial profiling

Here’s the racial profiling data for Ferguson. This report details the racial breakdown for police stops, searches, and arrests.

The news media is in bed with white supremacy as well. Turn on your local news station and you’re bound to see images of black men and women chained to courtroom tables, awaiting trial for murder, or robbery, or rape. Inevitably, one will logically conclude that black people MUST be dangerous. Though white people commit crimes daily, they are rarely reported on in the ways that black crimes are. There is a giant smear campaign against black people. We are the perpetual scapegoats for white america’s failures. We are consistently pointed to as the problem.


Most news attention is going to the “looting” instead of focusing on the brutalization of the police force. The looters have even been named, but not the police officer who shot Brown.

We are painted as the violent perpetrators, even though the reality is the police are violent and we are merely defending ourselves. We are routinely interrogated for the violence we employ. In the documentary, Black Power Mixtape, Angela Davis provides a beautiful response to people who question black people and their use of  “violence.” She says:

“You ask me, whether I approve of violence?…When someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through, what black people have experienced in this country since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.”

For quite some time now, black people have been paralyzed by respectability politics which has prevented us from expressing our outrage, our sadness, and our contempt for white America. We’re always painted as pathological criminals, and sassy, angry, ungrateful black folk. We’ve told mythological stories to ourselves about remaining peaceful so that we look “good” to the police and the rest of the US, but that narrative just doesn’t work anymore. I am reminded of words from Stokely Carmichael who was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers who critiqued Martin Luther King’s peaceful efforts. He stated:

“Dr. King’s policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.”

Black people organizing has always been painted as a scary picture for white people, simply because they assume we are inherently dangerous. White America has made a concerted effort to divide black people, to ruin our communities with drugs, poverty, and bad health. They isolate us into food deserts in hopes that if drugs don’t kill us, the horrible food will. They saturate our communities with white-owned hip hop and media entertainment. They attempt to distract us from the murders they commit next door and we are tired of turning to look the other way. People are starting to directly confront the police, to look them in the face, and to demand rights. You can shoot as many bullets into our bodies as you wish, but that won’t stop our message because new revolutionaries are born every minute.

As minoritized subjects, we have had to learn self-care since daily depictions of dehumanized blackness saturate our psyches. We have been learning to value ourselves, because when you understand your value, you feel the need to defend yourself.

audre lorde
It’s important that we all contribute to the struggle, whether it’s through protesting, educating, reading political literature, “standing” YOUR ground, or learning to love yourself in a culture where you are degraded daily. Regardless of what path you take, we are all working together to fight white supremacy.  Political Prisoner George Jackson spoke of his revolutionary brother Jon Jackson with the words:

 “He truly had the courage to die on his feet rather than live one moment on his knees.”

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  • jeff

    David Clarke

  • Howard

    You need to research Knoxville, TN and search for Chris Newsome and Shannon Christopher. These two white people were kidnapped, savagely raped by a group of black people and Chris was burned alive while Shannon was put in a trash can and left to die (which she did) when they were through with them. Just wondering your comments on that. Once I heard Al Sharpton say he was for the civil rights of “all”. He never showed up to march for those two. Could it be that they were white and perpetrators were black? By the way, those two weren’t armed either. Not mad just curious.

    • Aph Ko

      Howard–yes, black people commit crimes, like white people do. No one is fighting that notion. However, black people are disporpotionately profiled, arrested, and charged with crimes OVER white people. Just turn on your local news. They seem to have a fixation on crimes committed by black people, yet are pretty silent about white crimes which is why so many white people think black people are dangerous. Also, Al Sharpton is not a representative for all black people. Just because he doesn’t show up every time a white person is murdered doesn’t mean he’s racist. He also doesn’t show up when every black person is killed. Al Sharpton is very much irrelevant to the LARGER point which is black people are disproportionately profiled and painted as criminals. Sure, you can sit here and sift through the crimes black people have committed today OR you can look into white American history [and contemporary reality] to see how many crimes white people have committed….

  • neenee

    Articles are always on point, I truly appreciate the courage and strength to give our community the proper information needed to rise.

    • Aph Ko

      Thank you so much Neenee! We appreciate your support!!

  • Wow is all i have to say about this article. Stop whinning get a job and speak english. If blacks wish to be treated as equals they must ACT as equals

    • Aph Ko

      “stop whinning and get a job and speak english.” Okay, lol….Why are white people the standard…like…why do black people have to “act” like white people in order to be treated equally? What does that even mean? In that case, we would have to slaughter nations and take over people’s land…black people shouldn’t have to meet some white standard in order to be treated like human beings.

  • Stacie Walker

    You are an extreme racist! You are the reason the races cannot come together. Go ahead and continue to point the finger and make the white people the enemy and the black people the victims. The truth is that blacks kill blacks on a daily basis by far more on a grand scale than white on black murders and black on white crime is substance ally higher…but you don’t want to hear the truth or make progress do you? You just want to continue to hate without cause. White America is not your enemy……your own race is. Why don’t you look in the mirror and make a change? Stop teaching your children to hate white people would be a huge step in the right direction.

    • Aph Ko

      Pointing out racism now makes you a racist. Great. Actually, black on black crime has reduced…it’s just reported MUCH MORE through white news outlets. Turn on your local news and count the amount of times they report on white crimes. “You are the reason the races cannot come together.” I think the races were not together before I wrote this article because of systemic racism that black people have faced for generations. Learning history helps to understand the present. If you don’t take the time to learn how oppressive white america has been to people of color, then you’re going to be VERY confused when looking at current protests from people of color.

  • One of the problems you don’t discuss is the culture of violence in black areas. There is a reason why police patrol black areas. This is not a case of black vs white, but is a case of us and them. White do get shot by the police but the news doesn’t care to cover those because it is the news media that racism going and propogating it. Racism is till an issue and it always be. But this is beyond racism. This is military police against all of us.

    • Aph Ko

      No, this isn’t about “military police against us all.” You’re universalizing this. First of all, crimes also occur in white neighborhoods….but police are generally dispersed in black areas because of the prison industrial complex…it’s profitable to send black men to prison. Read about it. You have to understand America’s history to “get” why so many black people live in poor, dilapidated areas. It’s not like they just chose to be there, or that they don’t work hard enough. It makes sense that if your ancestors were robbed from Africa, were being sold like property, were being lynched in trees, and were considered HUMAN in 1964 because of the Civil Rights Act, it would make sense that we don’t necessarily get a fair chance in this culture. Police have NEVER been on black people’s side….in fact, that’s why the black panther party was started…..police were slaughtering black people left and right. It’s not a surprise.

      Now you can either learn about violent white history, or ignore it and just assume that black people are more dangerous, and that white police officers are SO concerned about keeping black citizens safe that they consistently patrol areas. Some of us don’t have the privilege to live in the world that you do. Our news media consistently acts as though black people are deviant and dangerous even though white history is tainted with slaughtering nations, colonizing peoples and areas, and robbing and enslaving whole groups of people. Makes sense.