By Kadeem Fuller
Last week we discovered that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice while working with the Trump campaign last year. The private meetings between the two are a direct contradiction to the statement Sessions made during Senate testimony where he denied any contact with any Russian official during the campaign. Despite Sessions recusing himself from any investigation of “Liegate,” it remains that the lie he told under oath and its severity is beyond a suspension of power. Sessions was caught in a deadass lie and once again the American collective is shook.
The shock that people seem to always muster when the dirt of their politicians are uncovered always amazes me. Session’ falsehood is not special. His is not a standalone example of the low moral and ethical standards of the Trump administration but rather it openly displays the culture of lies that is embedded in the State.
Let me put you on game; Jeff Sessions, the current US Attorney General is an old name in Alabama homegrown backdoor Southern racist politics. Known as one of the more conservative politicians, his history as Alabama General Attorney and US senator is filled with hate and oppression of Black people. This long history of blatant disregard of Black life in the state was ultimately the driving force against his failed 1986 nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. One of the leading voices of the push against the appointment was Coretta Scott King, who wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee stating Sessions, “has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.” The resistance proved successful and Sessions’ nomination was withdrawn.
As we fast forward to today, the history of Sessions still matters. The fact that Sessions’ legacy as a white supremacist was welcomed in a Trump-led administration promising a utopian paradise for white men under the ahistorical banner of “mak(ing) America great again” speaks not only to the administration but the very fabric of the office that Sessions holds. The position of Attorney General is the nation’s top law enforcement official as well as the chief lawyer. In this capacity, Sessions oversees the prosecution of all lawsuits that enter the Supreme Court and represents the legal interests of the United States government. It is fitting that Sessions, a known racist in both attitude and policy, has shown himself to be a liar as well.
Simply put, Sessions aligns perfectly with the dishonesty that is endemic in police precincts and governmental positions around the nation. This controversy cuts through all levels of government. The racism and dishonesty Sessions displays can be witnessed on both local and state levels.
In the age of the Movement for Black Lives—a visible movement that has continually called attention to state sanctioned violence and the use of police to dehumanize, regulate and control Black people—how many lies have been told over the blood of Black bodies? How many reports have been filed by pigs that attempted to criminalize both the life and death of Black victims of state sanctioned murder? Remember Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old Black boy who was shot sixteen times by Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel and State Attorney Anita Alvarez attempted to cover up the shooting and created false narratives of the event for over a year.
Remember Walter Scott, the 50-year-old Black man that was murdered on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina by the hands of cop, Michael Slager. Slager lied, concocting a false tale where Scott, the alleged aggressor in his own murder, took Slager’s taser. Slager, fearful for his life shot and killed Scott after the “struggle.” This account was determined to be a lie after a video surfaced of the incident showing Slager shooting Scott in the back five times when he was more than fifteen feet away from Slager.
Remember Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Black woman who was detained after a traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas on July 10th, 2015. On July 13th, 2015, within three days in the Waller county jail Bland was found dead. Her death was ruled a “suicide” but the details of her death and consequential court case has been met with both misinformation and hostility toward the Bland family by Waller County Texas.
These examples of falsehoods created and perpetuated by and for the State to preserve itself are a few of many. The institutions and agents that hold power within our society share a common history of lies; a culture of deceit that directly connects the local level of governance to the top officials in the Trump administration. This is the American way.
This culture of lies was present prior to Trump’s tenure and will exist long after his reign is over. Whether the lies come from oppressive cops or corrupt politicians, Black folk are force-fed lies daily. This common thread of dishonesty matters because they allow us to critique the State at every level as well as analyze the frequent lies that are used to prop up and legitimize an inherently murderous nation. For Black folk, the news of Sessions’ shadiness is just another example of an already long list of reasons why the State and its agents are not to be trusted. Not now, not ever.
Kadeem Fuller is first and foremost a lover of all Black people. He is a organizer within the Black Lives Matter Urbana-Champaign Chapter. He is a radical writer, abolitionist, graduate student and Netflix binge enthusiast. He writes to add to the collective road toward Black Liberation.