by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The recent, strange and very public deaths of three Black people in the nation’s capital have spawned silly and useless conspiracy theories. The real conspiracies against African Americans are writ much larger: the forced bankruptcy of Detroit, school charterization and mass Black incarceration.
Freedom Rider: Aaron Alexis, Miriam Carey and John Constantino
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“It isn’t mysterious for every measure of quality of life to be in free fall when the system itself is on its last legs.”
Black Americans are living in a time of utter insanity. They are getting poorer, they have a good chance of being incarcerated, the blue collar and government jobs they depended on for living wages are disappearing, and public education as we know it may cease to exist. Every single avenue they have historically used to improve their lot in life is less and less secure. In addition to all of these issues, the president of the United States looks like them and creates confusion so deep and so dangerous that many can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge their ever worsening plight.
While the group disintegrates under terrible stress, some individuals do as well. When black people implode in public in high profile fashion, the effect is very disturbing and can lead to distractions which, while well intentioned, are useless and counterproductive.
Within the span of three weeks, three people became very public figures as they lived their last day of life. On September 16th, government contractor Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard before he too was killed by police. On October 3rd, Miriam Carey was shot to death by Capitol police after driving into a White House security barrier and striking a secret service officer. On October 4th a man identified as John Constantino burned himself to death near the Smithsonian.
All three of these people were black. Ms. Carey was reported to have had psychiatric illnesses described as post partum depression or psychosis and had been treated with medication. While not under treatment, Mr. Alexis showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia. A lawyer representing Mr. Constantino’s family described him as having “a long battle with mental illness.”
“Whether on Capitol Hill or in cities and towns across the country, police officers appear unable to subdue or capture black people without killing them.”
It is odd that three such incidents took place in the nation’s capital within a short period of time and that each one involved a black person, but those circumstances are not proof of connection and causation. In fact it is disempowering to focus on these particular events and reach conclusions about government police and the state of an entire race based on strange events.
The circumstances of Miriam Carey’s death are in fact all too typical for black people who are killed by police on a regular basis. Her death is among the many extra judicial executions of black people which take place every 28 hours in this country. Whether on Capitol Hill or in cities and towns across the country, police officers appear unable to subdue or capture black people without killing them. Like Ms. Carey, the fact that they have little children with them doesn’t make them any safer. Their deaths don’t take place on the national stage, but even a call for help to 911 can bring death to black people when they ought to be able to expect assistance from law enforcement. Because Ms. Carey is dead, the reason for her actions and her state of mind will never be known.
The term conspiracy theory is often used dismissively, as if conspiracies never take place. World history is replete with conspiracies which impacted the lives of millions of people. But it must also be said that it is disempowering to spend time and energy theorizing about government mind control over three individuals when 30 million other black people are in grave danger due to very easily explained and very public conspiracies conducted on a large scale.
The majority black city of Detroit was not only forced into an unnecessary bankruptcy but its assets are being sold off piece by piece. Retirees will lose their pensions, creditors will be left with nothing and to add insult to injury, the city may be forced to pay up to $100 million to the people who are picking it clean.
“Even a call for help to 911 can bring death to black people.”
Detroit is black America writ large, beset by corrupt government policies allied with moneyed interests. It takes hard work to understand the realities behind a situation that is routinely mischaracterized by politicians and the corporate media. It is tempting to think instead of government plots forcing individuals to harm themselves or others but it is also too easy a trap.
The biggest conspiracies are quite open but also difficult to stop. The evisceration of Detroit is a conspiracy. The promotion of charter schools is a conspiracy. The plot to keep as many black people under lock and key as possible is a conspiracy. So is the plot to stage a government shutdown which will be resolved with an agreement to cut entitlement programs.
These seemingly strange phenomena are part of a larger dynamic. The United States is a failed state and the failure is becoming more rapid every day. It isn’t mysterious for every measure of quality of life to be in free fall when the system itself is on its last legs.
It is not useful to discern the motives of people who are deceased, to draw conclusions based on incomplete or inaccurate press accounts or to make sense of what is by definition illogical. It is useful to remember that the 1% never give up finding ways to get more of what belongs to the whole world.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.