On Freddy Gray, Baltimore & The Social Contract

At what point does the social contract end? If violence can be wreaked upon you without cause? If your life can be taken from you while you are unarmed and your murderer goes unpunished? If your rights as a citizen have been taken away simply because you were walking on the street? If the skin on your body becomes the marker for your criminality and you become a source of profit for those who run the prisons? Isn’t this the definition of a slave? You are not a citizen, violence can be done to you without need of justification or provocation, you are deemed to be property, you are not regarded as a human. If the society you live in has failed to recognize and protect your humanity, what is your obligation to that society?

These questions stem from the thinking of Afro-Pessmists like my friend, the writer and scholar, Frank Wilderson. The argument is that the ontology of slavery continues to this day for Blacks in America. Given recent events, it’s hard to argue otherwise. If one looks at the video of Walter Scott running away from the gun of policeman Michael Slager or Freddie Gray being hauled into the police van, the history of America haunts the viewer with its reincarnation of violence against Blacks.

The anger in Baltimore contains a recognition that the social contract can end, can be deemed null and void by those who believe their humanity is not recognized and protected by the state and the society in which they live.

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