It is not hard to imagine the conditions that demand the writing of a book such as Policing the Black Man. Throughout history there have been very few countries that have demonstrated their disdain for black people as much as the United States of America. The country boasts of freedom but still subjects black people to the same horrors that they were subjected to centuries ago during slavery. A country whose relation with black people confirms that there is no ‘post-racial’ paradigm, black is still synonymous to slave.Weier, S. (2014). Consider Afro-Pessimism. Amerikastudien / American Studies, 59(3), 419-433 at 420. Actually if you are black you do not have to do any imagining at all, play on the street, drag your feet, or dance with your kids and you might be reminded that your mere existence is still a crime.Davis, A. (Ed.). (2018). Policing the black man : Arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment, introduction by Angela Davis. The deaths of Micheal Brown, Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin bear witness to the fact that in America black people do not need to transgress or violate any social code for them to be punished. Wilderson, F. (2003). The Prison Slave as Hegemony’s (Silent) Scandal. Social Justice, 30(2 (92, 18-27 at p25)) To be black is an imminent threat warranting defense, a defense whose proportion need not be measured and thought about. To see a negro moving justifies shooting the negro, to be a negro is to anticipate bullets, prison, sentence, and a penance for being born in a skin so wrong. Policing the Black Man is an attempt to highlight these realities by looking at the ways in which the black man is affected by the criminal justice system from the moment of encounter with the police all the way to sentencing.B Stevenson (2017) A Presumption of Guilt: The Legacy of America’s History of Racial Injustice A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at pg 4.
Akukho nzima kakhulu ukucabanga isimo esenze ukuthi kugcine kubhalwe incwadi enjenge Policing the Black Man. Kusukela kudala ambalwa amazwe akhombise inzondo kubantu abamnyama njengezwe laseMelika. Lelizwe lihlala liziqhenya ngenkuleleko yabo bonke abantu kodwa lisaqhubeka nokuhlukumeza abantu abansundu ngendlela efanayo nale ababehlukunyezwa ngayo ngezinkathi zobugqila. Izwe laseMelika liyakhombisa ukuthi izinkathi zobugqila azikadluli umntu omnyama asagqilazeke ngindla efana ncamashi nale ayegqilazeke ngayo kudala. Kahle kahle uma ungumuntu onsundu eMelika akudingi ukuba uzixake ingqondo ulokhu ucabanga kakhulu. Uma udlala emgwaqeni, udonsa izinyawo noma uzidansela nje nomdeni wakho kulula ukuba amaphoyisa akukhumbuze ukuba ungumuntu omnyama, nokuthi ubukho bakho kulicala. Ukudutshulwa kwabantu abafana no Micheal Brown, Eric Garner no Trayvon Martin kuyakhombisa ukuthi eMelika akudingeki ukuthi wone okukanye ube necala ukuze ubulawe noma uboshwe ngamaphoyisa. Incwadi iPolicing the Black Man izama ukusibeela lokhu ngokubheka izindlela abantu besilisa baseMelika bathinteka ngakhona kusukela ukuhlanganeni namaphoyisa kuya ukugwetshweni.
But with such a vast literature on policing what makes Policing the Black Man different, or rather is there anything new that the book offers? This is a question that I constantly asked myself as I went through the chapters. The book is a compilation of essays from different scholars most of whom are law school professors or work within the legal fraternity. The selection of the contributors seems deliberate but one questions whether or not this is helpful because the problem of policing is not only limited to the realm of the legal. There is an overlap that happens, Jeremy Travis and Bruce Western make this point in the book; policing is directly linked to questions of history, sociology and politics.J Travis and Western (2017) Poverty, Violence and Black Incarceration. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 294. One wonders therefore how helpful it would have been to have more diverse contributors so as to open up the conversation and stretch it to other provinces of thought and knowledge. Perhaps Angela Davis who is the editor of the book was interested in the specific; policing as it relates to the legal which is permissible but constraining.
Kukho konke osekubhaliwe ngempatho embi ngamaphoyisa kubantu abamnyama yini eyenza lencwadi ihluke kwezinye? Okukanyi yini esinekaza khona lencwadi isngakutholi kwezinye? Le imibuzo ebengilokhu ngizibuza yona uma ngilokhu ngifunda lencwadi. Incwadi le ihlanganise izahluko ezibhalwe ngabantu abahluka hlukene iningi labo ngo dokotela basemanyuvesi abafundisa ngezomuthetho. Okungenzeka ukuthi lababhali babakhethe ngenhloso kodwa angiqinisekanga ukuthi lokhu (kulusizo ngokuba lenkinga yokuhlukunyezwa enhekene nabantu abamnyama akusiyo inkinga yomthetho nje kuphela kodwa ithinta eminye imikhakha eminingi. Njengoba esho nje u Jeremy Travis no Bruce Western ukuba lenkinga inkonga yomlando, yempiliswano kanye nepolitiki. Lokhu kungenza ngizibuze ukuba bekuyoba usizo olungakananani ukuba kube nabantu abaphuma kwimikhakha eyahluka hlukene ukuba babhale kulencwadi. Kodwa kungenzeka ukuba uAngela Davis ophinde abengumhleli walencwadi ukwenze ngamabomu lokhu ukuze incwadi igxile entweni eyodwa.
Except for a few suggestions on what can be done to ‘transform’ the criminal justice system in America the book gives us little to help us broaden and complicate the debate around the policing and black people. For example Roger Fairfax suggests that the grand jury must be overhauled and a judge must be installed to oversee prosecutorial conduct.R.A Fairfax Jr (2017) The Grand Jury and Police Violence Against Black Men. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 209. He also suggests that there must be a permanent independent prosecutor who will investigate and prosecute police officers accused of unjustified violence.Ibid at 227. But this contradicts Bryan Stevenson who makes it clear in his chapter that the racial disparities in policing are not only a consequence of bad policing or biased judges and prosecutors but it is a structural problem that is deeply rooted in history. For Travis and Western the problem lies at the intersection between violence and poverty.Op cite note 5 at pg295. This then shows that a solution that wants to address policing by simply looking at the moment between arrest and sentencing will be inadequate.
Lencwadi iyazama ukuba isinikeze iziphakamiso zokuthi ezomthetho zingalungiswa kanjani kodwa kuncane ekwenzayo ukuze ivule futhi ijulise lenkinga yempatho yamaphoyisa kubantu abamnyama. URoger Fairfax uphakamisa ukuthi igrand-jury kumele iyekwe kufakwe ijaji elilodwa elizobheka indlela ekushushiswa ngayo abantu. Uphinde aphakamise ukuthi kumele kubenomshushisi oyedwa ozophenya aphinde ashushise amaphoyisa asolwa ngokusebenzisa udlame kungafanele ebantwini abamnyama. Kodwa lokhu kuyaphikisana nalokhu okushiwo ngu Bryan Stevensonokubeka kucace ukuthi impatho embi kubantu abamnyama ayenziwa ukungafundiseki kwamaphoyisa kodwa yenziwa inkinga ejulile enomsuka le ezinkathini zobugqila. UTravis no Western nabo bayakufakaza lokhu, bathi inking yamaphoyisa iphinde ithantane neyodlame nokuhlupheka kwabantu. Lokhu kuyakhombisa ukuthi ukuze ixazululwe lenkinga kuyomele kubhekwe eminye imithelela hayi ukuboshwa nokugwetshwa nje kuphela.
Stevenson makes a proper diagnosis of the problem of policing but also fails to provide a suggestion that is convincing enough. He insists that one of the ways that this historical problem can be dealt with is to publicly address effects of racial violence and then move from there. He is of the view that the civil rights movement should have been followed by a process of ‘truth and reparation that focused on recovery’.B Stevenson (2017) A Presumption of Guilt. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 23. This recommendation might be persuasive on paper but the reality is that in many countries where this method was tried it has not worked. South Africa is a case in point; where there was an extensive truth and reconciliation process yet despite all of that the hierarchies that existed during colonization and apartheid still exist today. The fact that the country is still divided by the colour line is testimony that efforts of reconciliation through dialogue were ineffective. How do you recover from a brutal history that keeps on happening?
UStevenson uyishaya esikhonkosini uma eyichaza inkinga yokuhlukunyezwa kwabantu abamnyama ngamaphoyisa nokucindezelwa ngumthetho. Kodwa uyahluleka ukusinika umhlahla ndlela wokuthi kumele kwenziwe njani. Akushoyo ukuba lenkinga kumele ibekwe sobala ikhulunywe, izothi uma isikhulunyiwe bese siqhubeka lapho. Uthi izinhlangano zenkululelo ezaziwa nge civil rights movement kwakumele zilandelwe inkomishana yeqiniso nobudlelwano, ezoqinisekisa ukululama kwabantu emphufumulweni nangokwengqondo. Lokhu kuzwakala kulungile futhi kuyinto engasiza kodwa iqiniso lithi amazwe akuzamile lokho azange kuwasebenzele. Umzekelo izwe laseNingizimu Afrika lapho khona kwaba nenkomishana yeqinisho nobudlelwane ende kodwa izwe lakhona lisaqhekezekile futhi labo ababengaphezulu ngezinkathi zencindezelo basengaphezulu namanje. Izwe laseMzansi lisahlukene ngisho nanamhlanje, lokhu kukhombisa ukuthi imizamo yokuthula ayizange isebenze. Kodwa ingasebenza kanjani uma izinto zisefana, nencidezelo isaqhubeka.
Important to note on the question of policing which the book ignores is that the violence that is meted at black people by the police cannot be addressed through transformative measures, the depth of the problem demands much more than reconfigurations here and there. This is correctly pointed out by Marc Mauer when he gestures to the fact that integration policies have not worked because even though there are now more black people who work inside the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and police violence on black people continues to increase.M Mauer (2017) The Endurance of Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 32. This is precisely because the problem is a structural one. Black people exist outside of sociality; they are invisible to civil society. They enter the world not as citizens that can be incorporated into certain discourses but they enter the world as something else. Fanon argues this when he says black people can never exist within the paradigm of (white) civil society because ‘the two zones are opposed’ and ‘no conciliation is possible’. The contributions in the book seem to be avoiding this, perhaps deliberately but any conversation that seeks to diagnose or chart a way forward for the criminal justice system must address this.
Okunye okubalulekile lencwadi engakuthinti ukuthi incindezelo ebhekene nabantu abamnyama akulula ukthi ilungiswe ngoshintsha la na la, kukhulu okumele kwenziwe ngoba kukholu okonakala. UMarc Mauer ukubeka kucace lokhu uma ethi ushintsho oluncane kwezomthetho alusebenzi ngoba nama sebandile abantu abamnyama abangamaphoyisa, amajaji, abashushisi kodwa izinga labantu abamnyama ababoshwayo nabahlukunyezwayo lisaqhubeka nokwanda. Inkinga inkulu kakhulu kunalokho. Abantu abamnyama abasibo abantu abaphelele emehlweni abelungu. Uma bebabona abababoni njengabantu abangaphilisana nabo kodwa babona abantu abafanelwe ukuhlukunyezwa. Lokhu kwenza kubenzima ukuthi kutholakale isixazululo. Njengoba umbhali uFranz Fanon ekubeka ukuthi impolo ephilwa abamhlophe ihlukile kunalena ephilwa ngamnyama. Indlela abaphila ngayo ihluke kakhulu koyobanzima ukuthi kubekhona ukuzwana nokuhlalisana okunganakho ukuxhilizisana, Ababhali balencwadi abakuthinti lokhu, mhlawumbe ngamabomu. Kodwa kuze kutholakale isixazululo kuyomele bakubhekisise nakho.
Also, when the American Declaration of Independence was pronounced and adopted in 1776 Americans had created and agreed on a code and treatment of its people. The sentence that is hailed as the best sentence in the English language is found in this declaration. The sentence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But interestingly when this grand statement was made and adopted America was ravaging African countries and continuing with the slave trade. This makes it clear that black people were never meant to be recognized as men but as property that could be violated gratuitously and with impunity. Black people were never meant to form part of the discourse around human rights, justice and equality. What does it mean for all the contributors in Policing the Black Man to write as if there is a possibility of reconciling these long standing antagonisms between black people and (white) America? If there is a possibility then what is it because what is offered in the book is not convincing enough, at least not to me?
Uma kubhalwa lokhu okwaziwa ngokuthi i American Declaration of Independence ngonyaka ka 1776 abasemelika babezama ukubeka imigomo nendlela abazophilisana ngayo njengabantu. Le declaration iyanconywa ngendlela ebhalwe kahle ngayo. Eminye yemisho ebalulekile etholakala khona uthi; bonke abantu badalwe ngokufana nangokulinga, bonke banamalungelo empilo, enkululeko nokwenza lokhu okubajabulisayo. Kodwa okuhlekisayo ukuthi ngesikhathi kubhalwa le declaration iMelika yayikhombisa udlame eAfrika, ithatha abantu abamnyama ibadayisa futhi ibagqilaza. Lokhu kukwenza kucace ukuthi iMelika ayikaze ibabone njengabantu abantu abamnyama, ibibabona njengezinto nje ezingadiyaswa zihlokumezwe nomangaiphi indlela. Abamnyama babengafakwanga ezinkulumweni zamalungelo, zobulungiswa nokulingana kwabantu. Bekubalulekile ke ukuthi ababhali be Policing the Black Man bakhulume nangalokhu ngaphambi kokuba begxumele ukuthi inkinga izolungiswa kanjani lapho khona ingakachazwa kahle yonke inkinga, umbono wami nje lona.
It is Dambudzo Marechera who reminds us to always scream and never take it in silence. Katheryn Russell Brown makes a similar call in the chapter titled Making Implicit Bias Explicit. She highlights the fact that the rate at which black men are killed by the police cannot only be dismissed as an aberration because every other fortnight there are headlines about a black man that has been killed by the police. Some of these incidents make it to the headlines because of the advancement of technology such as cellphone videos and platforms such as Facebook and twitter. But, this begs the question how many more of these incidents happen which do not get recorded or find their way to the public? How do we quantify the rate at which police men are killing black people? It is only recently that there has been a concerted effort by the Department of Justice to introduce a pilot program to keep these statistics.K.R Brown (2017) Making Implicit Bias Explicit. A. Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 136. Katherine could have stretched her analysis and mention that the overemphasis on the cases that make the headlines might overshadow the many other cases that happen without being reported. How then do we heed the call by Saidiya Hartman to look at the quotidian if we are interested in giving a full account of the violence that black people are subjected to?Hartman, S. (1997). Scenes of subjection : Terror, slavery, and self-making in nineteenth-century america (Race and american culture) at pg 2.
Umbhali uDambudzo Marechera uyasikhumbuza ukuthi ingane engakhali ifela ngaphakathi, kubalulekile ukuthi uma sihlukumezeka sikhale kuzwakale. NoKatheryn Russel Brown uyakufakazela lokhu kwisahluko Making Implicit Bias Explicit. Uyazama ukuveza ukuthi indlela nenani abantu abamnyama ababulawa ngalo ngamaphoyisa kukwenza kube sobala ukuthi akulona iphutha nje kodwa kunesandla semfene. Amasonto amabili awapheli kungabikwanga ezindabeni ukuthi khona owesilisa obulawe ngisihlungu amaphoyisa. Iminye yalemibiko siyibona ngenxa yokuthuthuka kwezokubuchwepheshe, ngikhuluma ngomakhalekhukhwini abathwebulayo kanye nofacebook no twitter. Ingabe lokhu kuchazani? Kuchaza ukuthi ziningi ezinye izigameko ezenzekayo ezingabikwa ezindabeni. Lokhu kwenza kube nzima ukuthi sazi inani abantu abamnyama abafa ngayou ezandleni zamaphoyisa. Okwenza lokhu kube nzima kakhulu ukuthi azikho izikhungo azakhiwele ukugcina amanani nemininingwane yabantu ababulawa ngamaphoyisa. UKatherine ngabe ulwenwebile ucwaningo lwakhe ngokuthi akubeke kucace ukuthi ikugxila nokukhuluma njalo ngalamacala avela ezindabeni kungasenza ukuba sishaye indiva amanye amacala angabikwa. Uma sifuna ukuyicwaninga ngokuphelele indaba yokuhlukunyezwa kwabamnyama ngamaphoyisa kuyomele izigameko zibhekwe, ziphenywe zonke njengoba wayeshilo noSaidiya Hartman.
Tracy Mears and Tom Tyler are correct in suggesting that policing has to be reconsidered and a new model has to be created.T Meares & T Tyler (2017) Policing A Model for the Twenty-first Century. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 161. But what does that new model look like? Do we try and fix the existing model or do we destroy it completely to make way for the new? There are disagreements and contestations around these issues but what seems to be the consensus is that something has to be done. Reformist solutions have proven not to have any effect. In the same way that Hutchings used music, particularly hip hop, to speak about racial profiling perhaps if we listen closely we might also find useful suggestions that come from ordinary folk who are faced with these issues on a daily basis.R.M Hutchings (2017) Racial Profiling: The Law, the Policy and the Practice. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 95.
UTracy Mears no Tom Tyler baqinisile uma bethi indlela ezomthetho zingayo kumele kucatshangisiswe inye indlela engcono. Kodwa umbuzo uthi; ngabe lokhu kuzokwenzeka kanjani? Lendlela engcono ibukeka injani? Ingabe silungisa kulokhu okukhona noma siqala kabusha? Abantu banemibono ayahluka hlukeni ngokuthi kozokwenziwa kanjani kodwa kubukeka ngathi kunesivumelwano sokuthi kukhona okumele kwenziwe. Incwadi Policing the Black Man idikadikana nayo lemibuzo futhi izama ukuthola izimpendulo zeminye yayo. Lokhu kulungile kodwa ngifuna ukugcizelela ukuthi akusizi ukufuna izimpendulo lapho khona inkinga ingakahlaziywa kahle. Lokhu kungagcina kuholela ekuthethi kutholakale izimpendulo okungezona. Kodwa uma siyihlaziya kahle lenkinga singakwazi ukuthi sifune izimpendulo kwezinye izindawo ngoba kucacile ukuthi lapho esilibele sibheke khona asikutholi ukusizakala. Ngalendlela uHutchings esebenzise umculo we hip hop ukuthi akhulume ngokucwasa kwabamnyama mhlawumbe nathi uma silale la emculweni singathola izimpendulo uzingasisa phambili.
The book is an important one as it highlights how slavery managed to morph into the present by looking at the ways in which black men are policed. The book also has an air of optimism with all the chapters offering their little suggestions on how the criminal justice system can be transformed or fixed. But this is also its disadvantage because the preoccupation with solutions blinds the authors to how complex and far-reaching the problem of policing is. Policing the Black Man might be extremely useful in a law school library shelf but there is nothing new that it offers. Who feels it already knows it.
Lencwadi ibalulekile ngokuthi ikwazile ukuveza indlela ubugqila nengcindezelo yabantu iqhubeka ngakhona. Futhi ibuyisa ithemba ngokuba zonke izahluko ziyazama ukuza nezimpawulo zokuthi abantu abamnyama bangatakuleka kanjani kulesimo ababhekane naso. Incwadi Policing the Black Man ingaba usizo mhlawumbe emtapweni zincwadi kodwa eqinisweni kumbalwa okusha esinikeza khona ngaphandle kwalokhu abanye ochwepheshe asebekushilo.
|1.||Weier, S. (2014). Consider Afro-Pessimism. Amerikastudien / American Studies, 59(3), 419-433 at 420.|
|2.||Davis, A. (Ed.). (2018). Policing the black man : Arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment, introduction by Angela Davis.|
|3.||Wilderson, F. (2003). The Prison Slave as Hegemony’s (Silent) Scandal. Social Justice, 30(2 (92|
|4.||B Stevenson (2017) A Presumption of Guilt: The Legacy of America’s History of Racial Injustice A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at pg 4.|
|5.||J Travis and Western (2017) Poverty, Violence and Black Incarceration. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 294.|
|6.||R.A Fairfax Jr (2017) The Grand Jury and Police Violence Against Black Men. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 209.|
|7.||Ibid at 227.|
|8.||Op cite note 5 at pg295.|
|9.||B Stevenson (2017) A Presumption of Guilt. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 23.|
|10.||M Mauer (2017) The Endurance of Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 32.|
|11.||K.R Brown (2017) Making Implicit Bias Explicit. A. Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 136.|
|12.||Hartman, S. (1997). Scenes of subjection : Terror, slavery, and self-making in nineteenth-century america (Race and american culture) at pg 2.|
|13.||T Meares & T Tyler (2017) Policing A Model for the Twenty-first Century. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 161.|
|14.||R.M Hutchings (2017) Racial Profiling: The Law, the Policy and the Practice. A Davis (ed), Policing the Black Man at 95.|