al calloway.jpgWhat appears to be the Troy Davis fiasco should almost involuntarily focus black people everywhere on justice and its centuries of meaninglessness.

Possessed with just cursory historical underpinning, almost any person of African descent can measure from the injustice of the Trans-Atlantic African slave trade and the holocaust of its Middle Passage through chattel slavery and the governmental double-cross of Reconstruction and the onslaught of sharecropping — an ingenious form of near slavery — through Rodney King scenes everywhere that this thing called justice is imbued with qualities that escape us.

“Justice” means “just us” to black people. A white cop was shot and killed by a black man, so a black man, any black man, had to be convicted and murdered by The State for that crime. Should it be found that another black man is actually guilty, will he, too, be convicted and executed by The State?

“Just us” is driving while black. “Just us” is being poor and represented by court-appointed lawyers who have scant resources, including time, to adequately provide representation on your behalf to the court. “Just us” means being pressured to plea bargain your freedom.

“Just us” means being falsely arrested and sodomized with a broomstick in a police station by a group of white policemen. “Just us” means an innocent black man being cornered in an apartment hallway trying to show identification and shot dead by more than 40 bullets fired into him by policemen.   

While the Emancipation Proclamation freed Africans in the United States from slavery, the state of Texas waited two years before freeing them. To this day, there has been no justice meted out to Texas for violation of that edict. And no compensation was ever given to those blacks for two additional years of slavery.   

Fifty-seven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation must end in public education. But justice is meaningless for black Americans. Public school education is segregated and discriminatory. White America feigns to not see all of this, but the world does. So when American diplomats and scholars talk about “democracy,” especially to non-white nations around the world, they are usually met with polite stares and wry smiles.

So where does black leadership go from here? Should black leaders placate their constituencies with the promise that a move to abolish the death penalty nationally will result in justice for black people? That such a move with a dominant white nationalist U.S. Congress (and I mean on both the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle), during the throes of a presidential campaign, could grab traction while America is focused on jobs, the economy, debt, the infrastructure and foreign affairs is remarkable to even be contemplated in such a milieu.

But black leadership has perennially gone the legal and legislative route seeking social justice and, with the able assistance of national print and electronic media outlets (owned by the American plutocracy), have been able to propagandize glorious results. However, when confronted with a Malcolm X-type logic based in mathematics, 146 years of freedom spent begging your oppressor for justice is a foolhardy expenditure of time, effort and sparse resources.

Discerning blacks calculate the outcomes differently. They see the vastness of black poverty across America (and the world). They also see the large-scale infant mortality, high asthma rates in black children, educational tyranny, a lack of vocational training, huge incarceration rates — especially for black males — police brutality, predatory lending (mortgages and check-cashing stores), and now a new kind of poll tax in the form of state-required identification in order to vote. There’s much more. I only hoped to stimulate your mind.  

Black leadership patently refuses to organize black people. Is it that they don’t know how? Or is it that they fear loss of funding from white sources for their political campaigns and/or for organizations/churches they lead? Can black people achieve real group progress under non-dynamic, non-futuristic, revisionist leadership? No! (They’re even scared to deal with Reparations.)

Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle.
He may be reached at

Photo: Al Calloway