Let me tell you a story about myself.
My name is Ricky J. Marc, J.D., M.S., and I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I was raised in Boca Raton, Florida by two Haïtian-American immigrant parents. I’ve attended and graduated from law school with both a Juris Doctor and Master’s Degree. By the time I’m 35, I’ll most likely have about six college degrees.
From time to time, I write poems. Stay with me, here. I’m descended from two different foreign heads of state—President Sténio Vincent, who governed the Republic of Haïti from 1930-1941, and Emperor Faustin I (of the House of Soulouque), who reigned over the Empire of Haïti a century prior from 1847-1859.
I can trace my ancestry back to Nigeria, Bénin, the Maghreb (المغرب), and France, among other places. Professionally speaking, I’ve worked with the Miami HEAT, The White House under President Barack Obama, and as a Legislative Aide with both the Florida House and Senate. I’m also a licensed Notary Public.
Since 2017, I’ve produced my own podcasts and written sports articles for the Five Reasons Sports Network, as well as the RJM Blog, which you’re reading right now. My whole rap sheet can be found at rickyjmarc.com/credentials, and my résumé/CV can be downloaded by anyone in the world with an internet connection.
I’ve done a good deal of things in my life that I would think my family and I can be reasonably proud of, and my life is all about being as good a return on their investment in me as it possibly can. But this isn’t so much an autobiography as a point I’m trying to make. Here’s what I mean by that.
Even with all of these things, the color of my skin, as beautiful and brown as it is, condemns me to the reality that I am one bad traffic stop away from being a hashtag on Twitter and a memory in the hearts and minds of my loved ones. It doesn’t matter who I am or what I’ve done—the American criminal justice system only sees Black and brown to be a dangerous color.
Whether I am rich or poor, well-educated or unlettered, American society uses my skin color to consign me to the reality that I remain one bad traffic stop away from being a hashtag on Twitter and a memory in the hearts and minds of my loved ones.
How many more people like me will see their lives violently and callously taken by the hands of an oppressive and increasingly militarized police force? How many Blacks—American or otherwise—will be arbitrarily smacked with the death penalty by a police officer acting as a triumvirate of terror—judge, jury, and executioner—before due process is even able to get out of bed?
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I can’t help but feel angry—angry at myself for not being able to change it, angry at the world for watching as it happens, and angry at an inherently racist and broken criminal justice system that continues to breed domestic terrorists wearing blue that receive little to no accountability when yet another avoidable Black Death takes place.
I’m sick and tired of Black people being taught to be forgiving in a world where only they are tasked with taking the high road while so many others receive reparative justice—including land, political power, and even wealth—for wrongs done to them by either society or the federal government.
The fix has been in against Black people since the very beginning of western colonialism. There’s no doubt.
For far too long, Blacks in western society have been perceived and treated more as entertainment than the equals they were born to be.
There’s no better example of this than sport, especially in the United States of America. It’s easy to confuse entertainment value and equality because both involve kind treatment.
But here’s the difference: we are entertained by dogs; we are equalized by our partners. You treat your dog kindly to encourage submission and good behavior; you treat your partner kindly because dignity demands it. In other words, shut up and dribble is akin to shut up and entertain me.
At this, we will often hear the refrain:
But look at how many Black millionaires exist in the United States! Look at how popular some of your Black celebrities are! How then can there be racism in America?
Not surprisingly, a capitalist society determines validity and value according to how much money someone earns and holds.
Are dogs not rewarded with treats for good behavior? I believe this is known as positive reinforcement, which, if translated to human social behavior, can easily be linked to the acquisition of wealth by an even wealthier corporate hegemony. But while the dog is treated kindly and rewarded, its role in the household does not change—it remains beneath even the youngest, smallest human being.
The irony here is that even a mistreated dog receives more open sympathy than a Black man being shot like one in the street for simply jogging one fateful afternoon in Texas. The value of a Black life in society is not yet tied to our humanity; instead, this value comes from how we can best amuse and entertain our massas—sorry, the word is masters, here. Yeah, that’s right.
Even now, as we’ve seen, Blackness continues to place us at serious risk for death and destruction.
It’s no wonder so many of us within the Black community will resort to neoliberal survivalism—compromising on ideals that might stop the bleeding of a perceived societal wound today, but will lead to harmful effects in the long term.
I’m reminded of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, written by then-Senator-turned presumptive 2020 Democratic Nominee Joe Biden and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, which had many Black legislators vote in favor of—all of them members of the Democratic Party.
We now know it as the ’94 Crime Bill.
Many of us just want the beatings to stop. Many of us just want anything that will reduce the pain of oppression, brutality, and the avoidable loss of loved ones. We’ve all been convinced to accept this for so long that it’s no wonder so many Black leftists were squeezed out of collective Black consciousness since the 1950s.
We have effectively whitewashed revolutionaries like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X). How else do we ensure the obedience of a dog? We show him what happens when he adopts the characteristics of his progenitor the wolf. Show him what happens when he reverts to his natural, pre-domesticated form.
This selective social breeding and conditioning over generations has resulted in the taming of canines that will not seriously threaten the House of Washington. Perhaps this is why Dr. King’s more revolutionary words—
—are systematically passed over in favor of the same kumbaya clichés we see once a year after January comes to a close. Perhaps this is why Killmonger—and not the Black Panther—is considered to be the villain/anti-hero in Marvel’s Black Panther (2017). Maybe this is more than we completely understand.
The systematic oppression of Black existence in western society continues to be a mystifying paradox. In places such as the American South, racists will address a 45-year-old Black man as “boy,” while simultaneously charging his 13-year-old son as an adult for a crime he didn’t commit. How did he get there? A white woman probably called 9-1-1 on him for being on the wrong street.
How does that make sense? We’ve seen it more times than we can bear—Black people tend to be subjected to more stress-related ailments, and this is compounded by the reality of Black infant mortality far outpacing other ethnic groups in 2019-2020. This has thankfully been highlighted by figures like Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders in recent months, and more needs to be done.
Going along with the medical theme, it’s clear.
Riots and social unrest are but a metastasized strain of the untreated cancer that is capitalist racial and social injustice, continuously left to feed on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged organs of society for the sake of a system that capitalizes more on lukewarm treatment as opposed to an outright preventative cure.
I know, that was a mouthful, but it’s true (at least to me). Riots are never my first choice, but when all of our other options are exhausted, what other choice is there besides bending to the will of an inherently racist society? We can’t talk about it at sporting events, online, or even in the form of peaceful marches. What else is there?
Dr. King is quoted as having said that “riots are the language of the unheard,” which makes sense. I understand where he’s coming from. But what happens when Blacks riot and society instead decides to focus on the inevitable property damage? How do Blacks then react to a society that will stop at nothing to avoid discussing racism?
What else can we do? If I’m being candid, I’m perfectly fine with what’s happening. So be it. Do what must be done to make sure the powers that be hear you. Desperation is a powerful catalyst for social upheaval. When we kneel, we’re told were disrespecting the flag. When we try to bring up racism elsewhere, we’re called “divisive.”
When we rail against neo-Confederate monuments that were actually erected long after the South presumably lost the Civil War, we’re told we’re attacking southern heritage.
Does anyone besides me realize how ridiculous that sounds? There is no other option, and I understand the zeal of those protesting. While I worry about the potential for COVID-19 spreading further, I understand that this has to happen.
In the meantime, be careful with whom you place your trust in the political sphere. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t really rock with you. She doesn’t stand for Black lives, nor will she do a thing to address the racial wealth gap. She won’t even unequivocally support the movement.
The ivory towers of neoliberalism only believe that Black lives matter as long as they vote for their candidates. It’s not so much left vs. right as it is race and class now. Malcolm X warned us about this in the 1960s.
Nevertheless, the revolution is coming. Make sure your voter registration is up-to-date, your family is safe, and that your faith is strong. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we must do everything we can to be ready for whatever comes our way. The incumbent in the White House has to go, along with his administration of devils. Let me be clear on this.
I’ll have more to say later, but in the meantime—peace and love to the families of so many lost Black souls at the hands of police, namely Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless others whose names we may never know. May justice come to the devils responsible for their deaths, and may freedom come to Black people all around the world.
Make no mistake. Until there is justice, there can be no peace, and I mean that wholeheartedly. Enough is enough.
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.