Metering Black Lives: Making MarShawn McCarrel Matter
When, actually if, McCarrel had voluntarily arrived the steps of Ohio Statehouse it did not occur to his activist colleagues and critics that that was his last outing in public and private. According to posts on McCarrel’s Facebook page it appeared that some “demons” were upping their game in attacking the Black Lives Matter struggle organizer, and he, McCarrel, just not coincidentally, happens to be in the fore of their assault. So how does taking out this promising young black African American male, an addition to the statistics on young black male murder or murdered in the United States of America cripple the fight against justice? Exactly what kinds of threat does McCarrel constitute, if any, to his murder or murderers?
A Facebook user posits the following:
Either he didn’t commit suicide or he stood for nothing. Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, environmental change, or stasis with the desire to make improvements in society and to correct social injustice. Killing yourself does none of the above.
To the extent that some are witnesses to systemic callousness it is in fact not impossible that anything besides suicide may have happened to McCarrel. Suspicions from those who are distrustful of the police or even the justice systems in their society breeds further anger and hatred about the incident of another young black male death.
Two cases from Africa’s most populous black country, and one that is handsomely religious too, will provide perspectives to systemic harassment: Dele Giwa and Bola Ige. If you know how present day suicide bombers go about their deadly business of commuting with death you’ll probably understand what I am talking about here. Dele Giwa a fearless reporter was in the forefront of trying to expose a powerful dictator’s ass. Babangida a general and then ruler of Nigeria, it was widely circulated, would have none of that “nonsense”. Dele Giwa was taken care of! A parcel bomb was delivered to him for mail. B.O.O.M. Giwa was gone; justice buried.
On December 23. 2001 James Ajibola Idowu Ige, SAN, or Bola Ige, Federal Minister of Justice in Nigeria, under president Olusegun Obasanjo, also a traditional chief in his hometown, slaughtered like an ISIS victim; well, killed, maybe; death is death. He was assassinated, taken care of in the usual order.
What’s interesting in both cases, Giwa’s and Ige’s, is that the murderers were undetected, uncaught till date, free from the long arms of the law, if there are any at all, that is. Many have postulated similar questions as those of this Facebook user: could these deaths and assassinations have been the handiwork of the very system which these men had stood against?
Such questions including the pervasive existence of marauding systems of injustice which McCarrel fought against need to be answered through layered complex of the social, political and even psycho-religious lenses. Since the Trayvon Martin saga, Michael Brown and several other young black men have gone both through and by the guns of other black men and those of the authorities which “serve and protect” us all. Bad thing is that bullets do not discriminate; they kill regardless of color, or who pulls the trigger, or who they hit.
At this point there might be good enough reasons to urgently declare an emergency on metering life, whether black or white, in this country. The rate at which suicide and murders are occurring requires serious reexamination of the public and private American attitude to life. These are no coincidences at all. That MarShawn McCarrel would just go out and pull the trigger on himself does not only not add up; it also makes it important for us all look more deeply into our public service and private lives. What’s the cost of doing service to rescue others if we are not ourselves rescued from the “demons” which constantly chase, harass and attempt to annihilate us and our communities, be they systemic, personal or corporate? Our engagements with systems of injustice and oppression and repression must take cognizance of the power of these to turn us against us–our self/selves. Self-defeat is not an option. Suicide as Facebook user stated does not “consist of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, environmental change, or stasis.” We must understand that there is a calculated, intentional, conscientious effort at metering our lives through the economic, judicial–maybe extra-judicial injustice–as well as and more importantly through the psycho-social obstructions to our human sanity. These are all demons which are not beyond overcoming. As Martin Luther once said, the journey ahead will be rough and it is in fact not yet time for us to lay down our wreaths, nor is it the period of celebration. We are in the middle of a battle and to belittle the forces of the foes is foul play that is too costly to contemplate let alone accommodate.
Edited April 5, 2018.