Nicholas Payton Sends a Message to Black America via Ferguson, Missouri

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has some strong words for “Black America” in light of the recent police shooting of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Nicholas Payton. Photo by Skip Bolen.

Nicholas Payton. Photo by Skip Bolen.

Never one to mince words on his personal blog, Payton wastes no time diving into the heart of the matter, joining a chorus of other commentators across the country who feel Brown’s shooting sheds a light on racial tensions and how they affect the black community.

Payton begins his powerful post by saying: “Message to Black America: It’s unlikely that the lawmakers or their agents will ever admit when they’re guilty of a crime. Just us.”

After going on to say that political affiliations do not matter in the face of racial prejudice, Payton draws a direct link between Brown’s killing and the Trayvon Martin case.

After a string of seven strong statements, Payton asks a very pointed question: “What’s going to be different this time?”

Rather than waiting for the justice system to “declare our humanity,” Payton calls on the black community to claim it.

“The most rebellious thing you can do as a people is invest in your community, daily. Build truth; destroy the lie.”

In light of fellow trumpeter Shamarr Allen’s recent encounter with Louisiana State Troopers, Payton’s words manage to take on a real and personal feel for New Orleans residents while helping to bring the Brown and Martin cases into sharper focus.

What do you think of Nicholas Payton’s message to Black America?

  • NolaWhoDat

    I agree. Invest in your community. Buy property, open stores, start a community center. How do you think the courts, or the mayor for that matter, will react if more affluent folks of color began showing up in court rooms or city council meetings? Unfortunately we live in a society that puts money over humanity. Race isn’t the only factor in these cop shootings. It’s about rich and poor, and those who defend the rich.

  • Barry, Melbourne Australia

    Positive & necessary. Go Nicholas, it’s high time that more Musicians, especially those who continue to create and evolve America’s uniquely distinct Art Form, “Jazz”, speak up on issues that directly affect their communities. Remember Dave Bartholomew’s hit message anyone?

  • woodreaux

    1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized.
    2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.
    3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
    4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
    5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
    6. They have things that people in other countries only dream
    about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries…

    • neaula

      More red herrings than a fish market, more tired canards than a flock of Canada geese flying south for the winter.

      Next I suppose you’re going to tell us you completed Logic 101 the Rand Paul School of Obfuscation.

      • woodreaux
        • Beadhead

          Ever consider that “half the population is subsidized” precisely BECAUSE “America is capitalist and greedy”?
          Ever consider that the “half the population” that is “subsidized” think they are “victims” because they must depend upon subsidies to live?
          Ever consider that the “poor keep getting poorer” because “their representatives” do not represent them, but represent the “greedy” instead?
          Ever consider that no one in THIS country will ever “dream about” the things the poor have.
          Ever consider that no one, including the poor, wants this country to “be like” the impoverished nations of which you speak?

          Are YOU embarrassed yet? If not, you should be.

        • Beadhead

          Ever consider that “half the population is subsidized” precisely BECAUSE “America is capitalist and greedy”?
          Ever consider that the “half the population” that is “subsidized” think they are “victims” because they must depend upon subsidies to live?
          Ever consider that the “poor keep getting poorer” because “their representatives” do not represent them, but represent the “greedy” instead?
          Ever consider that no one in THIS country will ever “dream about” the things the poor have.
          Ever consider that no one, including the poor, wants this country to “be like” the impoverished nations of which you speak?

          Are YOU embarrassed yet? If not, you should be.

      • woodreaux
  • Lisa

    I’d like to hear Nicholas Payton, Obama, and others speak out against violence towards ALL people, not just Blacks. What about the huge problem of Black on Black crime, and the rapes/murders of groups of Blacks against Whites, and the “knock out” punching of innocent Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews walking by on the street by Black youth? Why don’t we hear public figures or artists speaking up about ALL crime against anyone, not just when it’s involving a Black individual? He should be encouraging the crowds to stop rioting, hurting people with violence, trashing their own streets, businesses or properties and that of others – mob rule mentality that gets us nowhere.. he should be encouraging responsible behavior, supporting the Rule of Law, which is color blind, seeking the truth and lawful accountability of what truthfully happened. Violent protests, speaking up only when it’s violence against a Black, is just as divisive. I care that violence against ALL my brothers and sisters stops, regardless of color, and that together, we strive for the truth, personal accountability, and the Rule of Law. We need to wait for due process, versus emotionally and violently reacting when, not being there, none of us know what happened and the extent of the actions of the Black youth, the policeman, or anyone else there.

    • JazzLunatique

      The Rule of Law which might be color blind is administered by people who are decidedly not.

  • sraw

    While I rarely agree with every nuance of an opinion that I largely support, I don’t find any of Mr Payton’s points to be significantly arguable. It’s time for all of us to stop mincing words and deal directly with the monster that is the imperialistic U.S. government, which serves an even higher master, the obscenely wealthy and their corporate profit.

    We do not have anything even reasonably close to a democracy. No person or group, within or outside of U.S. borders, that interferes with this power drunk and greedy behemoth is tolerated, except symbolically and as long as it’s amusing and impotent. It will be the end of us all unless we change it, radically and soon, not gradually and piecemeal, which is impossible. The police, though also oppressed, are simply obeying their bosses and enforcing the societal consensus, mostly with the purchased approval of a brainwashed populace, the key player being a corporate owned media which has abandoned journalism for advertising, state propaganda, and jingoism.

    I think Payton is harder on the black community than the facts support, but substantially correct there too, saying what needs to be said by someone black. Indeed, as he states, an autonomous community defined by its own collective standards is where a better future starts. Don’t forget, the Panthers tried this, but society has become marginally less racist since then and the overall stakes have become higher, so perhaps we can learn from their mistakes and make it work against a more weakened and crumbling, though still vicious because it’s wounded and desperate, system.

    No one with any sense wants violent confrontation with an enemy that has all the firepower. I’ve been saying something similar (to my friends and acquaintances – I’m not professional writer or affiliated activist) for years in regard to how we – all of us who are oppressed and want a healthy, loving, livable world, not only blacks – defeat the beast.

    Withdraw all support possible, massive tax resistance being potentially huge, but also lowered consumption in general, especially of its blood soaked and poisoned products, and boycotting sham elections being some of the most effective and immediate tools, whereupon it will begin withering – because it feeds on our participation, even in futile protest and pointless voting – ignore it as is possible, and create our own, better world in its shadow and ruins. The American democratic dream as conceived in the 18th century, built on the genocide of indigenous peoples and twisted unrecognizably through slavery, racial and economic, since then, is dead. We must start over.