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Choke + Hold
Hold + Choke
A Knee to the Throat
? + ?

These words, and their combinations, flashed across our screens, news cameras, and even print news in droves this week. It’s about time.

Talking about time, in 1963, James Baldwin wrote about the murder of a middle-age woman in at the knee of a white cop who crushed her throat. This six-decade old case, and its cruel reproduction at the knees of officer Chauvin to the neck of George Floyd, is but a cruel reminder of how long it takes to bend the arc of US history towards justice. At least sixty years. That’s too fucking long.

Floyd’s brutal killing at the knees of a domestic terrorist, an “officer of the court,” a purveyor of justice, compels us to look not only at why the injustice of killing by a chokehold from a cop is legal, at least for now. We also need to deconstruct the language and the images of what this barbarism conjures. Sure, choke holding, or suffocating victims “by the throat” leads to death. That much we know.

But this brain-less acts of torture lead to something much worse, when this system of lawful murder persists for sixty years. It leads to silence. For when black males “can’t breathe,” they are SILENCED. They can’t speak. In order to “make your voices heard,” you have to be able to speak, and speak loudly. So it’s no small wonder why the voices that are heard are so efficiently policed by the voice police, the criminal justice system, the Attorney General and the fascist silencer of the voices who are demanding an end to systemic racism, the President. Yes, a choke- hold is a matter of life and death. But over time, this silencing of the body leads to a numbing of the brain by mostly white people as well as the system of local policing.

A KNEE TO THE THROAT. “I can’t move!” Officer Chauvin’s eight-minute hold on Mr. Floyd’s throat immobilized him. The murderous act prevented him from the most organic of the thousands of years of Homo Sapiens, the ability—and the dignity—to get up and move. Walk. Run. George Floyd was denied his constitutional right to speak freely, in his case to save his own life, and the right bestowed by nature to move freely. Yes, police officers kill black men (and oftentimes, black women as well); but they also murder—metaphorically if you will—their humanity. Human beings have evolved over thousands of years, I will say as an armchair physical anthropologist, because of the evolution of the brain. The brain of humans has evolved to such sophistication that language is now as much computerized, as it is an art. The ability to stand up and move, to walk, and even to run is just as important to humanity as it is to the Animal Kingdom. Movement is the science of life itself. Language through voice is the art of our humanity. Without our voice, communication largely fails.

Which brings me back to the words. Put knee + hold together. What do you get? No voice, no movement. The prevention of travel and the silencing of free speech when such speech threatens the supremacy that mostly white police officers have enjoyed, unchecked.

Then insert the police, the Officers of the Court of Justice. Think about that for a second. “Officers of the Court.” By ‘Court,’ I mean Justice. How the Fuck did we get here? What justice. Justice unspoken is justice never possible. And mobility halted is freedom denied. Life is denied when a black man is not free to stand, to rise and stand up for his right to stay alive. Forget the right to seek justice at the hands of the justice system, the so-called criminal justice system. Under the hierarchialist par excellence General Barr, the pursuit of justice and the American Way is the prosecution of US citizens, whom he disguises as domestic terrorists. The slightest hint, a one-step-at a time demonstration he perceives as a threat to his supremacy as chief arbiter of justice in the Court of Trump.

Syncopate all of these words from the list, riff on them, and you get the deeper meaning of this brutality of brutal force. You get the murder of the spirit, the early crushing of hope and the capacity for love in the lives of those who hate, and a loss of loved ones among those that died. Both victim and perpetrator lose not only their humanity. They lose something far greater, more precious in the infinity of time. They—and we—lose our spirit.

So it’s past the time that we use these words imaginatively. We need to come up with new language less we run the risks of losing the war for justice to the master counter-narratives of our time, Bill Barr and his boss. So far they are winning their war on the Deep State. We need to beat them by crushing their Fascist State.

I’ll start with the only thing I can do, reconstruct the language. This system—let’s call it for what it is: Yes, its systemic racism and White Supremacy. It’s more than that, a greater evil. We need to give these brazen, bald, aggressive actions a name. I’ll name it, for now, Cultural Genocide. There are other names.

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