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Copyright 2013 Walter Harris Gavin

P.O.V.

per·cep·tion noun \pər-ˈsep-shən\ the way you think about or understand someone or something.

P.O.V. is a camera direction in a shooting script for a Motion Picture or TV Show indicating that what we see on screen before us is the character's point of view.

On the day that Michael Brown is laid to rest in St. Louis there is no better time to think about what put his body in that casket. Certainly it was the actions of Officer Darren Wilson firing six shots from his weapon at the teenager two weeks ago Saturday. But perception played a major role leading up to the incident. And more importantly gets at the root of the larger issue of police using deadly force against unarmed "black" Americans.

There are eyewitness accounts which have come to light. There are videos of the aftermath, but none have surfaced of the incident itself. Unlike what occurred just miles from the Ferguson shooting where Kajieme Powell, a 25 year old "black" man, was shot dead by two "white" police officers. Each eyewitness sees the same event from a different perspective and their perception of the event is also different. Even though there is a video in the latter case justification for the shooting is still a matter of perception. Might the officers response to the situation, less confrontational, led to a different, non lethal result? We'll never know. After all before the officers arrived on the scene there was no indication that Powell was about to do harm to anyone. I am reminded of the line from a multitude of Hollywood Westerns, "Shoot first, ask questions later." When it comes to "white" police dealing with "black" citizens that certainly seems the raison d'etra.

From all that I've gleaned so far from media reports surrounding Ferguson's "black" community the prevailing view of "white" authority towards "black" citizens is one of "less than." It is the same with the "white gaze" wherever one encounters it, institutionally. 

Since the time of slavery, America's political, cultural and social institutions have been propagandizing citizens of every stripe that "blacks" are less than and are in the words of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott decision of 1857 possessing "no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Fast forward one hundred fifty seven years to Ferguson, MO on that hot Saturday afternoon to see how this attitude under girds Officer Wilson's actions. 

Ever since that time despite the 13th, 14th, & 15th Constitutional Amendments, Civil Rights Legislation, election and reelection of a "black" President, Jackie Robinson's in every field of endeavor, America still echos Taney's assertion that "blacks" are "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations."

The Historian Edward Robinson in his African Genesis Theory postulated that "black" folks needed to get their own house in order to counteract that view. He saw an embracing of African history before the slavery experience in the Diaspora as a way of steeling oneself against the negative effects of the "white" gaze on "black" psyches. A countervailing narrative that would instill "black" pride and "white" respect of "black" culture and people.

He saw positive black media imagery and messaging, as well as, an infusion of African History within "Western Civ." from kindergarten through high school of every classroom in the nation as a way of establishing a new paradigm, a new POV. Dr. Robinson's story will be on display in a documentary produced by Bob Lott airing on CBS affiliate, Channel 57 in Philadelphia on September 28th at 11:00 am. 

Walter Harris Gavin is a writer/producer/author and proponent of a NU World Focus expanding your POV.