Letter from America: Memphis black policemen charged with anti-black racism

A still from a released video recording of Tyre Nichols's altercation with police officers involved in his death.

The United States Civil Rights Division usually takes cases where it feels that blacks have been subjected to serious race-based discrimination. These are called “hate crimes.”

The five Memphis policemen who confronted Tyre Nochols (pronounced TY-Ree) at a stop sign, beat him up with night sticks made from the American oak tree until his head was swollen to twice its normal size, are all black.

Is it therefore possible that the “Scorpions” (special police unit) was used by the authorities as an oppressive weapon against the black inhabitants of Memphis City?

Senior white officers will communicate to the black officers that a certain area “needs to be cleaned out”.

 The black officers, whose careers depend on recommendations from senior white officers “understand” that cleaning out means driving out blacks from such neighborhoods.

Thus, the white officers have passed on their intense hatred of blacks to their black subordinates.

These Uncle Toms prove themselves before their white handlers by the amount of animus (hatred) with which they treat their brothers and sisters.

Memphis police released the films taken by police body cameras. I counted fifty hard knocks applied to the body of Tyree. One could hear the ka ka ka sounds as the sticks landed on Tyree’s body. Tyree died in hospital. The police could not give a reason why they stopped Tyree.

That is crucial. Their hatred of blacks was so intense that they did not need a reason to stop a black. As the police sticks hit their mark, the policemen uttered bad words in pitched voices.  Tyree lay for twenty-three minutes. The ambulance was there, none of them offered any help.

But the issue is whether the US Civil Rights Division is correct to assume racism as the motivating factor. The self-hatred of blacks is something we do not normally talk about. Underneath the racial solidarity, there is a deep, hidden contempt of dark-skinned blacks by light skinned blacks.

This can be traced to slavery. The lighter skinned blacks were selected and preferred for inside jobs while others regarded as “raw Negroes” were allocated hard labor. The contempt by both their own and whites has remained under the surface.

In “decoloniality” literature, African Americans refer to blacks with straight hair as having “good hair.” Those with “nappy” hair are quietly scorned.

The self-hatred was drilled into African Americans so deeply that even though in the Southern states, it is regarded as the main inhibitor of creating financial houses of their own, like J.P. Morgan (Anglo) and Goldman Sachs (Jewish).

A group of Africans I am associated with has carefully taken notes regarding our treatment by immigration officers for the last twenty years. Our consensus is that Asian immigration officers are the most hostile, followed by African American men. These two groups have problems with accepting the fact that we carry the coveted US passports. In fairness, these racist immigration officers are a pale shadow of South African black immigration officers. 

If the US Civil Rights Division pursues the line of argument, there is plenty of evidence that black police carry animus against their own kind.

A Memphis police investigation found that there was no evidence that Tyree was pulled over for reckless driving. Being black was enough offence for Tyree to be stopped.

A police review board that looked at the film, was so shocked at the lack of “human considerations” that some of them chocked with disgust.

The Board also found out that though the five had taken an oath to protect the community, Tyree, having been deemed to be outside the ark of humanity and the law, was treated as an enemy combatant, an alien.

The chief of police, a black woman, said the film was so sickening that she felt that no human being should have been exposed to such brutality.

There is another kind of self-hatred. The other side of this horror picture is that the imperialists appear to have been more humane than blood relatives. The beating of the Murewa elders by raw youth showed utter contempt for the elders’ humanity. Their treatment is called interrogation by terror. It never occurred to the Zanu-PF youths that the blood that ran in the elders’ veins was the same as theirs. In Solomon Mutsvairo’s writings there is a case where a young man in the city adopts a new racial identity (Coloured) and rejects his black mother.

Christina Lamb, OBE., of the London Sunday Times has provoked a storm today (28 January) in her lead article about Zimbabwe.

“MP’s locked up 8 months without trial or bail, beatings of elderly people, kidnapping of opposition party and hospitals doing operations by light of mobile phones.” She mocks Zimbabwean, introducing her story with these bad words.

“For Jasmine Toffa, the hardest moment of her life was not being beaten black and blue by regime thugs. It came when (she) appeared in parliament after surgery, broken hands in plaster, and the justice minister (Kazembe Kazembe) laughed at her.”

We are talking about self-hatred. Brother Kazembe did not visualize Sister Jasmine as a sibling, a child from his mother’s womb. To Kazembe, Jasmine was trash, and she deserved being thrashed thoroughly and “nicely.” (Zimbabwean English)

Christina mocks Zimbabweans with more bad words. “They danced when Mugabe fell. Now life is worse in Zimbabwe than ever.” Christina implies that the Zimbabwean leadership would care less if the populace suffered but that the leadership rejoices (Kazembe’s example) in their suffering. Worse, it may be, according to Christina, that some of the suffering (in a country endowed by abundant resources) is politically induced.

This is what we mean by race self-hatred.

  •  Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US.

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