Snapshots

Dr Cintli: Of Dreams and King: Dehumanization begets dehumanization

After 10 years of Congress stonewalling on the Dream Act, the president has now acted. For the students and families affected, the president’s new immigration policy directed at young undocumented students is akin to a modern-day version of an Emancipation Proclamation.

Of course it’s a political move, just as everything the president does, and just as everything his opponents do, is political. But so too is dehumanization. Only when people are dehumanized can they be treated as less than human, as peoples less deserving of full human rights.

The death of Rodney King reminds us of this.

While seemingly unrelated, dehumanization is the common denominator. The lack of justice for King triggered an urban rebellion, unprecedented in U.S. history in its scope and rage. What could trigger such unadulterated violence?

The answer is very simple. King’s beating was not at all uncommon; people of color understand that violence. It is historic and it is systemic, and it has always been utilized as a means of control. That it was videotaped is what made it unique.

Such kind of violence can only be employed successfully if a people or population is considered less than human. In history, this was usually accomplished by use of religious or “God-mandated” ideas; i.e., Providence and Manifest Destiny. The Doctrine of Discovery served the same purpose. Since no human beings (read Christians) existed on this continent, Christians were free to violently take the land, etc.

Not being Christian was the same as not being human.

In examining history, can we actually say that these ideas have gone away?

In 1992, the King beating trial confirmed the common complaints of men of color, of always being beat down and always been treated as less than human sans justice.

Like many, I am no stranger to that reality. I lived through something similar in 1979 in East Los Angeles. What made my case unique is that despite being brutally beaten and falsely arrested, I actually won my trial, not once but twice.

What would permit officers to beat King, to regularly beat down men of color, as if indeed we were less than human? The answer: Dehumanization.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Dr Cintli: Of Dreams and King: Dehumanization begets dehumanization.

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