'Fuck Your Breath': Black Men and Youth, State Violence, and Human Rights in the 21st Century
35 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 5, 2016
I abhor unintelligent and misguided profanity. The title of this article, “Fuck Your Breath,” is not my own; rather it derives from the callous and wicked final words spoken by Tulsa deputy police officer Joseph Byars to Eric Harris, an unarmed Black man, after the former was alleged to have been accidentally but fatally shot and gasping for breath. See infra note 44 and accompanying text.
The purpose of this essay is to confront the remorseless and pathological killing of Black people, particularly men and youth, by police agencies across the United States. In doing so, it assesses the human rights implications and global responses to anti-Black violence, highlights probable implications of state violence and offers tentative proposals.
It was written at the behest of Black men and youth. It is a politically incorrect, unapologetic and passionate harangue from the soul; a painful scream, indictment and warning shot over the bow of our socio-cultural condition and national consciousness. It is an expression of progressive Black fury and likewise dedicated to Black victims — dead and alive — of police brutality; those spirits and souls broken by an unrelenting pathology of white supremacist ideology, coercion, and deadly police force. My thoughts are underwritten by the imitable question articulated by W.E.B. Dubois in his landmark work, The Souls of Black Folk, “To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.” This essay is also devoted to the souls of Black parent folk, who are silent victims of police criminality and violent white extremism.
Keywords: Black men, Black man, police brutality, unarmed, human rights, state violence, police, justice, criminal justice, killing
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