How they sold us on the mythical policing in Amerikkka from an African American’s perspective

Mike Nasa is an artist from Sacramento, Ca who moved to Berlin in 2014. He left behind an unaffordable city in San Francisco, unwanted by his country of birth, to concentrate on investing in himself. He delivered a speech on his experiences at the “Speak Their Names” March on May 31st. A think piece on a much-needed movement. Taken from our #Pride Issue.

Photos by Agatha Powa @agathapowa and Foxy Film Berlin @foxyfilmberlin
Text by Mike Nasa @beigegawd

“Serve and protect”

Since the beginning of time, human beings have instinctively covered their vulnerable areas when under threat of attack. How is it then, that police officers worldwide assume that unarmed, untrained civilians can, while being- ing beaten and choked, calmly place their hands out in front of them or behind their back? If you thought that was a run-on sentence; you’re probably right, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover and only so much time, so keep up.

As I was saying, how can a trained professional’s actions be deemed excusable because they were, “panicked at the moment” or “scared for their well-being?” Meanwhile, civilians are expected not to flinch when a “rogue” officer decides to finally live out their wet dream of committing legalized assault? Curling up in the fetal position is not resisting arrest – it’s an instinctual response. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, It’s impossible to go a minute on social media without seeing non-violent protesters, being beaten and gassed by military-armed domestic police for merely exercising their constitutional rights.

Grown men beaten and choked while calling out for their mothers is not the cycle of rebirth we so desperately need. Crown Vics have been replaced with unmarked SUVs and armoured vehicles. “Serve and Protect” has been replaced with body armour and tear gas, a practice banned in wartime by the Geneva Convention. We witness the death of democracy daily, ingesting it with our morning coffee: a little quarantine lockdown with a dash of Marshall Law-induced curfew and a pinch of PTSD to ruin your mental health for the day. We need to detox; something’s in the water from Flint to Ferguson, and the people we put in power aren’t fit to serve.

Meanwhile, the gun-toting- queer-bashing-die-hard Donny fans protested quarantine health and safety measures by bitching and moaning about haircuts and tattoos while cosplaying as Spec- Ops. And unlike that fateful time in 1967 when Bobby Seale and two dozen Black Panthers marched into the California State Capitol armed with guns to protest new discriminatory gun restrictions, they were not arrested or even detained. So why are these champions of freedom oddly silent in their stand for states rights against an oppressive government regime? Is it because the victims are black and brown people, or maybe because it’s easy to protest when your health and well-being aren’t at risk. I’m reminded of the demonstrations that erupted in protest of The US Government’s involvement in Vietnam; also, a poorly handled moment in America’s dark history.

Speaking of history, oh how we grew up on tales of European discoverers bravely setting out to settle a new continent! A nicely packaged lie to whitewash the arrival of colonialism on our fair shores. “When Christopher Columbus arrived on his three ships, the Live, the Laugh and most importantly, the Love: a de-melanated version of U.S. history” was shoved down our throats; made to swallow like bitter medicine that fed the fear in our hearts. America doesn’t have a problem with racism; America was founded on racism. It was black hands that toiled the dirt and black blood that fed the soil. America expanded on racism; it murdered and disenfranchised a vast majority of the indigenous population of a continent. The Trail of Tears runs through America like the mighty Mississippi, carrying black and brown bodies out into the gulf, washed clean from our minds and our textbooks.

Now influencers drive to marches to snap a quick selfie before going home to decide on a catchy caption like… “In the age of information, ignorance is a choice”– Donny Miller. We’re continually assaulted by unending information, insulated during this quarantined lockdown. Some of us are lucky, some are stuck with racist family members, abusive partners, or sometimes worse, ourselves. It’s an unprecedented time in history; I see people starting to rub the sleep out of their eyes. I see the lightbulb go off and the realization dawn that we might just have the ability to shape our future but it’s going to take a concentrated effort, hitting them from every angle to storm their ivory towers. We need peaceful protests, signed petitions, divestment from companies with counter agendas and investment in community groups and small businesses just as badly as we need frontline soldiers, bond money and legal representation for those willing to sacrifice their bodies for the cause.

– We need to organize to dismantle the racist structures on a local level.
– We need to protest at the racist monuments in our cities and dismantle them.

– We need to set up housing initiatives for black and brown people. (housing group for
black/brown in Berlin)
– We need to address diet and exercise.

– Mental health.
– Financial literacy
– Intersectionality
– Trans/homophobia
– Rape culture
– Relationship counselling
– Black/brown self-defence classes for men and especially women

If they put their knee on our necks, we put our foot on the gas.
If I’ve learned anything in this age of information; the truth will always come to light. The real question is, which side of history do you want to be on? We still have a long way to go in the fight for equality; I hope we can heal as a people when that day comes and walk down that road ahead, hand in hand.
“And they are lucky, that what black people are looking for is equality, and not revenge” – Kimberly Jones We need to shift the narrative. Too often, we’ve been passive, allowing the media to call us “looters” but white folks “survivors.”

We need black ownership. We need black book clubs and businesses outside of just barbershops and hair salons. We can’t wait for our oppressor to unlock the cage for us, otherwise, we’ll enter into a world of freedom which, unbeknownst to us, is just a larger cage.

We aren’t thugs or criminals or hoodrats or ghetto. We are kings, queens, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We are librarians and bus drivers; we’re essential workers; we’re nurses and teachers and pilots. We need to paint our own history going forward or we’ll be forever fated to repeat our past.