Energy can not be destroyed but simple changes form. For "black" folks the recent events surrounding the shooting death of eighteen year old Michael Brown in the county's heartland has unleashed a lot of pent up, long simmering anger (energy). The question which has to be posed is how to channel that "black" rage into "black" power?
When Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) used the term Black Power for the first time in a speech in 1966 it was in the context of the Civil Rights Movement and the uprisings that were happening in urban centers throughout the country. "To understand white supremacy we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom," he opined. Adding, "I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people."
So even 50 years after the so-called landmark Civil Rights Bill of 1964 we have situations like Ferguson. "You’ve probably seen the statistics by now. Ferguson is about two-thirds black. It’s police force is nearly 100 percent white. Less than a third of its residents are white, but whites hold five of Ferguson’s six city council seats."
This quote speaks volumes. It is from an article by Brian Beutler posted on-line in the August 15th issue of the New Republic and thus provides a teachable moment in the tragedy that is the killing of unarmed Mike Brown by a Ferguson police officer.
Let that quote sink in a little. What that says about the "black" community in Ferguson, at least from the outside looking in, is they have been asleep at the switch politically. Given the demographic imbalance and if "black" folks would or can register and vote in the same proportion as their demographic makeup then they ought to be able to select, run and elect candidates that will focus on their concerns.
One can see the result firsthand of how having someone familiar with and empathetic to the "black" community in the person of State Highway Patrol Captain Johnson has made such a dramatic difference in the mood and atmosphere surrounding the on-going protests of Mike Brown's killing. What if the community had more Ron Johnson police officers than Darren Wilson's?
But mounting an election campaign takes resources. And maybe most of those resources are still in the hands of "white" folks.
In a piece for CNN, by Ray Sanchez we get these statistics on Ferguson.
"According to the 2010 census, community residents are mostly young; the average age is 31. Median household income is $37,000: about $10,000 less than Missouri as a whole. About one-fifth of Ferguson residents live in poverty.
African-Americans are much worse off economically than whites, with a 25% poverty rate that's more than twice that of whites, according to the most recent government estimates from two years ago. Their median income is only about 60% that of their white counterparts."
Later on the article goes on to quote St. Louis Alderman, Antonio French who has been on the ground tweeting and documenting events, being tear gassed and arrested. "Ferguson's black community is a very transient community, living in rental housing, Not many people register to vote, and even less participate in elections."
So what remains to be seen in Ferguson and many other locales throughout the country, if the still pent up anger (energy) that seethes under the surface, which may have dissipated somewhat in the Age of Obama, can be harnessed into real and lasting 'Black Power'. Since the time that the term was coined there have been fits and starts, successes and failures and the constant countervailing attempts by the powers-that-be to neuter "black" cohesion.
In all of the media coverage over the last week, to date this discussion, that must be had, of turning Black Energy into Black Power has yet to be addressed. Like the release of the burglary surveillance video purportedly showing Michael Brown strong arming a pack of cigars, forces in control will always try to divert attention away from the real issue.