Black Eye For Black Leaders In Mississippi Hanging
It's hard to see how many other official probes it will take before Jesse
Jackson and black leaders accept the bitter truth that black Mississippi teen
Raynard Johnson was not lynched but committed suicide. The latest to come to
that conclusion is Michael Baden. The world-renowned forensic expert visited
Johnson's home and thoroughly reviewed two autopsy reports one of which was
privately commissioned by Johnson's family.
He found no solid evidence that
Johnson was the victim of racist violence. Baden's findings were made public
by the commander of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, an African-American.
But even this probably isn't enough to persuade Jackson and other black
leaders that white racists didn't murder Johnson. Not surprisingly, Jackson
when told of the latest result did not return phone calls from reporters for
comment. Hopefully, Mississippi's governor won't hold his breath waiting for
Jackson and other black leaders to heed his call to apologize for smearing
There's a reason why Jackson can easily fuel the flames of racial paranoia
about Johnson's death. The civil rights meltdown, assaults on affirmative
action, racial profiling, the wave of police shootings in black communities,
the grim economic plight of many young black males, the grotesque disparities
in the prison and criminal justice system, has made more and more blacks
convinced that terrible atrocities are being planned for them.
That was painfully evident to me recently when I spoke to a large group of
African-Americans. During the question and answer period the issue of the
burning of black churches came up. I pointed out that nearly one-third of the
more than 100 arrests made by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Force
agents in the burning of over 200 churches were of blacks. While in some
cases there was strong evidence of a loose conspiracy by a disjointed group
of racist whites to burn these churches, this should not let the blacks that
burned their own churches off the hook.
There was nothing racial about their motives. They burned their churches out
of: revenge, anger, to conceal thefts, or to perpetuate insurance fraud. They
were criminals and no one should try to excuse or justify their shameful and
debased acts. Disappointingly, several blacks did. They immediately angrily
shouted, "How do we know that they actually burned the churches? The only
thing we have to go by is the white man's word." Their blindness to reality
was the ultimate in collective racial denial.
Time and again when an African-American winds up in front of a court bench
more than a few blacks will shout that they are victims of a racist
conspiracy. It is a good, if not well-worn, ploy that some black
personalities have raised to a state-of-the-art enterprise when they are
accused of, or nailed for, sexual hijinks, bribery, corruption, drug dealing,
and possibly even murder.
Here's some tragic examples of this. Reverend Henry Lyons, president of the
National Baptist Convention USA, the country's biggest and most influential
black religious organization was convicted of racketeering and grand theft in
1999. The evidence was overwhelming that Lyons was a crook. Yet even after
Lyons admitted his guilt many black ministers still wailed that he was the
victim of a white conspiracy.
Despite a mountain of lawsuits, countless threats of government prosecution,
and numerous allegations of unsavory dealings by boxing promoter Don King,
NAACP officials publicly rushed to his defense. They hinted that King was a
victim of a government plot to destroy him.
Before the first juror has been seated and a single piece of evidence
presented to determine his guilt or innocence, supporters of Jamil Al-Amin
(formerly H. Rap Brown) currently awaiting trial on charges of gunning down
two Atlanta police officers did the same. They relentlessly claim that the
charges are part of a thirty year vendetta by law enforcement agencies to
destroy him for his Black Panther past.
Since the 1960's, many blacks have pumped the idea that everything that
happens to African-Americans whether it's the suicide death of Raynard
Johnson or the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is part of a secret plan
to annihilate blacks. Their theory goes like this. Following the urban
uprisings of the 1960's, the ghettos were flooded with drugs, alcohol, gangs
and guns. During the 1980's, AIDS was imported in. The "white establishment"
wanted to stop blacks from developing unity, strong political organizations
and programs to counter oppression. The plot was to get blacks to
self-destruct. There is no hard evidence that any of this is true and a
legion of tell-tale signs that many blacks reflexively scream racism to cover
their misdeeds. The problem is that the victims of those misdeeds are almost
always other African-Americans.
Even more damaging when Jackson and other black leaders claim racial plots,
as in Johnson's death, with little or no evidence to back them up, they lay
themselves wide open to the charge that black leaders are more interested in
snatching racial one-upmanship than in promoting racial harmony and achieving
tangible racial gains. This is just the kind of charge that gives them,
blacks, and worst of all tragic cases such as Johnson's a black eye.