Outmanned and Outgunned: The Supreme Court’s Cruel Joke on Black America – Part 1

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. – Second Amendment to the US Constitution

“The great object is, that every man be armed. […] Every one who is able may have a gun.” – Patrick Henry

“Gun control has not worked in D.C. The only people who have guns are criminals. We have the strictest gun laws in the nation and one of the highest murder rates. It’s quicker to pull your Smith & Wesson than to dial 911 if you’re being robbed.” – Lowell Duckett

“Our neighbors in Virginia are just as responsible for these killings as the criminals are because they won’t pass strong gun [control] legislation.” – former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry.

“To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say that you’re putting a money test on getting a gun. It’s racism in its worst form.” – Roy Innis

“So Huey (Newton) says, “We’re going to the (California state) Capitol… they’re trying to pass a law against our guns, and we’re going to the Capitol steps. We’re going to take the best Panthers we got and we’re going to the Capitol steps with our guns and forces, loaded down to the gills. And we’re going to read a message to the world, because the press is always up there. They’ll listen to the message, and they’ll probably blast it all across this country. I know, I know they’ll blast it all the way across California. We’ve got to get a message over to the people.” ” – Bobby Seale on the Black Panthers armed protest in Sacramento in May, 1967.

“The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.” – Richard Buckminster Fuller

History and time have a way of telling cruel jokes. So it is with the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the restictive gun ban in Washington, DC.

When black folks were outmanned and outgunned during the slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, various Supreme Court decisions left blacks defenseless against a tide of white terrorism. But now that black communities are awash in a wave of black on black crime, the Supreme Court accepts and rules on a case concerning the right to bear arms.

It is the cruelest of ironies. Before I go further, consider this admittedly self-serving timeline of the history of blacks and guns:

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The Blackness of Walter White

If Barack Obama fails to become president of the United States, his race-his blackness-will be seen as a reason for that.

But ironically, Obama lost an election for Congress to ex-Black Panther Bobby Rush in part because some felt that Obama-a biracial Ivy Leaguer from Hawaii-wasn’t “black enough.”

If all of that seems complicated, consider the case of Walter White.

Walter White was one of the most important figures in civil rights and black culture (Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movements) in the first half of the twentieth century. He headed the NAACP from 1936 until his death in 1955, during which time the organization achieved numerous political and judicial victories for African Americans.

One of White’s distinguishing features was that he looked, well, white. Indeed, you could say he looked “very” white, if there is such a term.
Walter White, NAACP
Walter White is blacker than you.

As he said in his autobiography A Man Called White: “I am a Negro. My skin is white, my eyes are blue, my hair is blond. The traits of my race are nowhere visible upon me.” White’s entry in Wikipedia notes that “all of his family was light-skinned, and his mother was also blue-eyed and blonde. Her maternal grandparents were Dilsia, a slave, and William Henry Harrison, the future President. ”

White could easily have “passed” for white, and avoided the constraints of racism that faced black Americans. But he was “racialized” by several incidents that happened in his life. For example,

One of the major events in his life that helped him make this decision (to choose to go through life as a black man) was the race riot in Atlanta, Georgia in 1906; he escaped the mob only because his fair complexion allowed him to pass through it safely.

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