This Was Not A Thug
TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway speaks with barbers and patrons of Conscious Heads Barbershop in Baltimore about the recent murder of Richard Collins
Eddie Conway: I’m Eddie Conway, coming to you from Baltimore. Welcome to “The Real News.” I’m here at Conscious Heads Barbershop, a place where we have been before, just to get an idea of how people feel about the young man that was murdered in College Park last week. So, I’m going to talk to a couple of the patrons.
I’m just asking people in the shop here what they thought and what they felt about the incident that happened in College Park with the young man that was just commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Army and was scheduled to graduate the next day. He was killed just two days after his commission. So, are you aware of that? What did you think about it? How do you feel, and why do you think that might have happened.
Speaker 2: First, I want to send my condolences out to the family. I’m very heartbroken. I feel as though he is my brother, relative. And your question, you said why do you feel like it keeps on happening. I feel like it keeps on happening because America hasn’t been held accountable for the things that they’ve been doing to people of color. When is enough, enough?
Eddie Conway: His case was presented as a case in which he was, like, really special because he was in Army, he was a commissioned officer, he was graduating from college. But do that make a difference in terms of racism and how racists attack us? And technically, that was a lynching. How they lynch us? Do it make a difference whether … I noticed The Sun paper said he wasn’t a thug, as if that meant that it’s okay to kill thugs. How do you feel about that?
Speaker 2: A lot of this time … America, when they do these things to black people, they always want to deflect. They did it to Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin wasn’t a thug, or they want bring up criminal past if there was one. Or their parents’ history, whether there was a relative in the house or a father figure. None of that stuff matters.
Eddie Conway: I notice you keep saying “America.” Are you referring to the United States of America, or certain a portion of America? And I notice you say they keep doing this, so you’re also saying that this is a historical thing?
Speaker 2: Yeah. Through history, we’ve seen them do terrible things to black people and expect us to move on and forget about it. A lot of the times they want to use that we’ve “progressed” and say that we’ve progressed … we have the Oprah Winfreys, the Tyler Perrys and all of that, but yet we still have killings of black people when black people … we don’t own anything; we don’t own any property. The school system … from the school system to all the other issues in the community. So we still have a lot more work to do.
Eddie Conway: What do you think, if anything, we can or should do as a people that’s being attacked like that?
Speaker 3: As a people, I feel like the black community needs to unify. Here at Conscious Heads, we promote “unify or die.” That’s what we say here. It’s just all about unifying or dying. We need to come together and rebuild our own system, because this system is against us, and stop trying to always work with it.
Eddie Conway: I clearly understand that these are two separate issues, but there’s a tremendous amount of black people killing black people and to a great degree, you don’t hear a lot of outcry. There’s concern, there’s fear, there’s even sympathy, but you don’t hear any kind of Black Lives Matter stuff there. So, what’s the difference in your mind between the two, if there is a difference?
Speaker 4: When it comes to the issue on black-on-black crime racism, I feel as though the two should be separate. Black-on-black crime … when a person of color kills their own, we’re held accountable, versus someone in America doing it to our own. And I feel like they’re two separate issues. It’s not as though we shouldn’t address those issues in the community, but they’re just two separate issues. And I heard a lot of radio shows comparing the two, and I feel as though they need to be separate.
Eddie Conway: How do you feel about what happened, one, the way they’re spinning it … the guy was drunk, it wasn’t personal, to “Oh, this shouldn’t have happened to this particular guy because he was so special.” But it’s been happening to black people throughout history. How do you feel about what happened?
Speaker 5: It’s just becoming too common. I feel the way things are going right now, it don’t like it’s about to get any better no time soon. As far as a man losing his life, that’s the most important thing, and a lot of people really don’t realize that as far as how much people really need to come together at a time like this. As far as … that man had a family. As far as what they’re going though, I can only imagine the pain and suffering.
Eddie Conway: Do you think it also might be a sign of the times now that Trump and his buddies have gotten in office and they’ve been kind of advocating hostility toward minorities and other people? And do you think this might be an outgrowth of that attitude coming from the top of the government?
Speaker 5: That plays a big part. People feel as though they’ve got an advantage right now on top of any race. But the people don’t realize that we’re all in this together. So when it comes down on just one race, it will come down on everybody. Laws are meant to be broken, but it’s so much that people can do to prevent it. The upper echelon speaks for itself.
Eddie Conway: The people that’s been attacking us don’t adhere to what we have to do. They have their own mentality, their own white supremacy. So what do we do to protect ourselves from those hostilities?
Speaker 5: Continue to kill it with knowledge, man. We continue to continue, because knowledge is power. In any situation, the more we know, the more we can do about it, and the more it’ll show.
Eddie Conway: Another incident just happened. A white man went up from Baltimore, went to New York and stabbed people, black people. He went up there deliberately to do that. Also, down there in South Carolina, a guy walked in the church and killed a bunch of black people there in the church. Do you think this whole political atmosphere in America now with racist people being in power, you think that’s having some kind of impact on what’s happening?
Speaker 6: I don’t know, man. I just feel like that it gives a person whoever has a feeling of malice in they heart about this racism situation, at some point in time, they just get a chance to come out they shell and demonstrate how they feel. And being as though we have a higher level of killing, a higher level of negativity in the air, that you have people that utilize that as a reason to go do what they feel within themselves … deeply within themselves. Because for a person to just come out of the clear blue and start something like that, that kind of feeling was laying dormant somewhere for a certain length of time. And at the end of the day, I honestly feel like this. Whether you’re black or white or whatever you are, man, we are human beings, and you shouldn’t have a malice or a discrepancy against anybody that’s been made and developed like you. So, that’s how I feel about that.
Eddie Conway: So are you aware of the incident that occurred in College Park with the young man that had just been commissioned in the Army as a Second Lieutenant and was supposed to graduate on Saturday? He got commissioned on Thursday, he got killed Friday night, and of course he missed his graduation on Saturday. So what do you think about the whole situation?
Speaker 7: I was going to do a more thorough investigation on it. However, it seems to be … I pretty much can guess what it is. It’s been … lately, people just been … whenever they feel like killing black people, they go suit up at will, like the guy that went from Baltimore to New York. And just at will, it’s just the same thing, but it’s a problem that’s been going on since we been here in America if you was to trace it back. The attitude and the mentality is the same thing.
Eddie Conway: You’re saying we’ve been here, as in Africans brought out of Africa and put in slavery here in America? Is that the “we” you’re talking about?
Speaker 7: Yeah, exactly … we as black people here in America. It’s always been like that same attitude, making excuses, any reason to go over and kill a black person. They think they whistled at a some white girl here, so because that they even thought that they did it, they would go and have a lynching party.
And in those lynching parties, they would have tens of thousands of people that would come out and send out postcards, and say, “Hey, look what we did last night.” Not scared because they knew they wasn’t going to be persecuted by the law. Their faces, they had their sons, they had their daughters, grandmama … everybody would be in that picture where they would actually do it because they knew that they had that white privilege. If I was a betting man, I would bet that it’s the same mentality after I go and do more investigation. I don’t know, do you have more information about the case?
Eddie Conway: There’s been no official statements. I took exception to the statement that The Sun paper, or one of the statements, that The Sun paper made was that “this was not a thug,” which implies that it’s okay for racists to kill thugs because they’re thugs. I had a problem with that.
This guy belonged to an organization, and students at the University of Maryland had been complaining about the racist organization and incidents that had been occurring on the college campus involving …
Speaker 7: And that was the organization he was a part of?
Eddie Conway: … yes, members of the organization, and none of the officials apparently took any action or did anything about it until it finally escalated into what now appears to be a racist murder.
But how do you feel about it? I hear you say that nothing’s new, this has been going on since we arrived here in America. So you don’t think the Trump administration and the attitude that they have now in cutting out all the social services, and directing their hostility, directing certain segments of the population, mainly poor or poor whites, or conservative whites, or racists toward other minorities, Muslims, blacks, Latinos, et cetera?
Speaker 7: I honestly … I take a position like I think that Trump is a distraction. I think that Trump is … don’t get me wrong. They’re doing things; they’re using Trump as a prop. He is the prop. But what I think, as a student of magic, the big thing is that what you do in magic is misdirection. You have people focused on this while the trick is happening over here.
Eddie Conway: What’s this trick? You need to share that with our audience.
Speaker 7: I think the thing is to have people … the powers that be were going to do what they were going to do anyway; they just used the name of Trump … you know what I mean? It’s “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump,” while this is what they were going to do anyway regardless of who was going to be in there. The things that were going to be cut and the direction that the country was going to go in, it was going to go in that way anyway.
Eddie Conway: As a people, what do you think we can do or should be doing to protect ourselves or to offset these attacks?
Speaker 7: One thing, like you know, we’ve got to be organizing. We definitely have to be organizing. These exercise groups that I see around the city, we’ve got to be organizing and training to be able to protect ourselves. And for some reason, many of us … we exercise and we do certain things, but there’s a lot of brothers I know, they exercise just to get the women. But the thing is, we’ve got to be exercising to look good and to feel good, but we’ve got to be exercising at the same time to protect our community … by any means necessary.
Eddie Conway: Thank you for joining me at Conscious Heads Barbershop to talk about this latest attack by a racist, white supremacist upon black people. And thank you for joining me at “The Real News.”