By Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur
(AllHipHop Opinion) “The Empire Strikes Back” endures as one of the most robust, classic tales of revenge ever imagined. The movie has always been heralded for its ingenious approach to film making, tech advances and superior storytelling. Also, we collectively recollected the iconic imagery of Han Solo being shockingly frozen, seemingly to death! I don’t remember how old I was when I saw “Empire” as a child, but it still remains my favorite of all the “Star Wars” films. And I am not sure why because the bad guys won.
These days, the real-life Empire is catching Black bodies left and right and an all-too-familiar, persistent, rag-tag rebellion returns replacing melancholy with angst.
But, “Revenge Of The Jedi,” this is not, as real people battling injustice are overpowered, outgunned and bullied by a militarized regime in, it seems, perpetuity. The 2020 catalyst has been a rash of recent deaths and attacks of unarmed Black people – all to the backdrop of the “we’re-all-in-this-together” psalm in the midst of a pandemic. The Empire even has a secret weapon that failed, a sociopathic lying “Karen” that botched a mission in New York’s Central Park. Rhetoric is as American as apple pie, but not as filling as the numbers on brutality.
Police killed 1,099 people in 2019, with Blacks representing 24% of the victims, but 13% of the overall American population (Source: MappingPoliceViolence.org). (Other reports have similar death tolls, but the numbers do vary. The Washington Post, for example, says it was 1,004.) Darth Vader would certainly demand better numbers against a people that truly want no smoke. Black people were three-times more likely to be killed by the cops and also far more inclined to be unarmed too. Damn, even the Ewoks had sticks and stones with their Shih Tzu-looking selves. Ahmaud Arbery, the Brunswick, GA jogger (killed by the son of a retired cop), was unarmed. Breonna Taylor, a young soon-to-be nurse, was shot dead by cops in her sleep. George Floyd, 46, had the life forced out of his body by a modern day, particularly savage Storm Trooper named Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, a Minneapolis, MN cop, was fired for this flagrant, fatal act (along with three other officers), but he still received top-tier protection from the very police force that discharged him. Nobody has been charged at the time of this writing. And, this is why police-on-citizen murders don’t tell the whole story. This is a story of an institution of racism, an intricate web of historical lies, imperialism, and a beast that changes forms every few years. When you think about it, Darth Vader has nothing on American’s Regime of Racism. Darth Vader was simple evil, black and white, until he wasn’t.
The System, American racism, has long tentacles that extend into every single facet of existence, education, the justice system, environmental, water food, healthcare, and the minds of people. The Empire in the “Star Wars” movies were clear terrorists, obvious bullies but we still see cops as the guys that get cats out of trees here. Daily, it is something. Francisco Garcia, a New York City Police Officer, beat on a man for not social distancing. Jersey City cops had a similar fracas within days and none of the officers were even wearing masks. And in other places like Rancho Cordova, California, a 14-year old is beaten by a cop twice his size for asking a stranger for a cigarette. These terroristic acts do not fit nicely in a spreadsheet, or article if they are even reported. All of this has happened during the pandemic, the time we are supposedly bonded by a common foe.
The coronavirus may have helped people stare at the injustice once again. Most people are home with limited things to do, aside from staring at a TV, a phone, or social media posts. These events, as tragic as they are, are not particularly special or unique. What is different is that it seems like everybody is watching, because of quarantine and stay-at-home orders. We have been forced to pay attention.
John Boyega, the star of the latest Star Wars series, is not from the United States, but he can see oppression clearly. The 28-year old went on a Twitter rampage, slashing every Jedi Mind Trick his followers tried to pull. “I really f#cking hate racists,” he tweeted, “WHITE on BLACK racism … the kind that has ruined the world”. To those that tried to get him to adjust his position, he responded, “You lot can’t rattle me. I’m not the guy to be rattled. I wasn’t raised by no weak people.” See the interactions below.
America loves a good, old rebellion until those rebels are Black. We can go back to the founding fathers to the Confederate Flag-waving rednecks to black-OPS looking militiamen that recently stormed the Michigan statehouse without incident. There may not be any “Return of the Jedi” for Black people in America, but there’s “A New Hope,” if you will. “The Force Awakens,” the latest Star Wars series, offers a different, perhaps visionary look to the rebel alliance. In the movie series (“The Last Jedi” and “The Rise Of Skywalker” included) People are truly fed up – again.
The real question is “Where’s the The Mandalorian?” Where are those that will turn their back on the totalitarian regime and align with rebel forces to save all the brilliant, young minds?
We can’t start calling Grand Master Jay Mando yet, but he is a former military man that is a strong advocate of armed resistance. Also a pioneer in Hip-Hop, the United States vet was on the grounds immediately after Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by Travis and Gregory McMichael. He and others were strapped with big guns. NFAC, his newly-formed self-defense organization, is one of many organized rebellions that have sprouted up. Jay received next-no-publicity in mainstream media outlets a stark contrast to the unorganized, leaderless uprisings and looting. Peaceful protests have garnered a lot of attention, but are often framed as violent by media.
There is so much to say, but let me take off my media hat for a moment before I end this.
When George Lucas created the Star Wars franchise, he created The Empire largely in the spirit of Hitler and Nazi Germany. There are more than enough fair comparisons of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler to make me cringe (Here is a great letter that articulates those comparisons from a regular citizen). America will demonize protest even though it is built on protest and rebellion on a savage level.
Honestly, like The Empire, most people don’t truly understand the level of evil “we” are up against. Or maybe they do. We, by the way, is Black people. In our rebellion, Landonis Balthazar Calrissian is a super Caucasian. We don’t have the consortium of color we saw in “The Force Awakens,” “The Last Jedi,” or “The Rise Of Skywalker.” We know Trump is Darth Vader in our movie, but who is The Sith Order, those behind The Empire and the First Order? A police officer reportedly jumpstarted the violent protests (watch video on that here) – on both sides. If there was no murder of George Floyd, if there wasn’t some mysterious white guy breaking windows with a hammer, there probably wouldn’t be any “revolt.”
The real global pandemic is racism. And, as an infectious disease, coronavirus, by comparison, is a common cold. It has killed millions and millions, terrorized more, enslaved, and metastasized faster than the most aggressive cancer. It has empowered the savage and his cousin, the coward, causing them to join powerful groups like the police or government. In a few short months, look at how this wretched thing has festered. Weak men hunt the defenseless, beat on kids, and then hide behind an army (75 riot cops protected the home of a purported disgrace to the badge named Derek Chauvin). Listen to the silence of your peers, neighbors, co-workers, and, even your mates. Talk to those that will listen, but don’t expect any change from those quietly co-signing this madness. There is no indication that there will be any from White America as a monolith.
I wrote this because I am tired – exhausted. I wrote this because I have personally had more racially charged incidents in the last few years than I have since I was a younger man. I have been fighting racism and racists nearly my whole life in one way or another. I wrote this, because we all have a purpose and a voice. We don’t all have to be Grand Master Jay or Mysonne or Tamika Mallory or T.I. or Martin or Rosa Parks. But we can all do something.
You can write a letter to your local government.
You can donate to an organization.
You can support Black business.
You can tweet about injustice.
You can do so much.
You can fight back.
Both Luke Skywalker and Finn found their strength over time. And, even a heartless mercenary of a totalitarian state named Mando found a heart.
In the movies.
God bless you all.
No justice, no peace.