i’m really just pouring everything out here, so i hope that you
read on with that in mind.
it has become all too common, if you are Black and Brown and
in between, to wake up weary. to wake up with a dread in your
stomach that is both repelling and familiar. i had already been
on my way to what i hoped was sleep last night when i spotted
the news about Alton Sterling’s murder in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
i saw the video, and wished i hadn’t. the next few minutes on
Twitter were numbness, anguish and a cold fury. another brother
trying to do something to just make it. just to live. selling CD’s.
again, CD’s. and he was targeted, taken down and ruthlessly
snuffed out by two officers of the law. the pat rollers of old turned
new. and so this morning, i went out in a semi-daze to go pick
up Pops from the train. the entire way, i thought about Alton
Sterling. and couldn’t help but think about Eric Garner. i thought
about Garner and couldn’t help but think about Sandra Bland.
and so on, and so on and realizing that once again, the cannibalistic
cancer of racism that has been fed by the system is in place. i
thought about my boy Levar’s brother Kyle, who was brutalized up
in East Harlem while on his job by NYPD officers. mainly, i kept
thinking about brother Alton and his family. his children, and
what they have to be feeling right now.
i saw the hashtags. i saw the tweets, the status updates on Facebook.
i’ve seen the range of emotions and viewpoints from deep sadness
to anger. i had to sit, let things simmer within me. when i met Pops,
i had to give him the rundown. here is where i hope you allow me a
quick sidebar. my father has been on this blue marble we call Earth
80+ years. from Jamaica to the States to Canada back to the States
again. telling him about Sterling set his face into a grim mask, one
that wound up displaying what he felt in his brushes with this uniquely
American cancer. “they must think this is a sport.” he said as we
got onto the Long Island Railroad to head back home.
a sport, indeed.
one cannot sit there and feel it is a coincidence that Alton had his life
taken a day after the nation celebrated 240 years of existence, a holiday
that is difficult for those excluded from the original documents of
declaration. it’s not a coincidence that in eleven days from now, we
are two years removed from the murder of Eric Garner out on Staten
Island. both men’s deaths were caught on video, and seen the world
over to the point where it became like watching a sporting event. in
a way, such has been these instances of stolen lives being caught on
camera. the near pornographic gluttony exercised through voyeurism.
the retweets of the video clip. the re-posting on Facebook. the news
networks now playing it in full. only took them 8 hours. put this hand
in hand with the barrage on social media and it is overwhelming for
anyone. i got caught up and retweeted the clip myself in a daze and later
deleted that tweet. because violence and murder that’s state sanctioned
like this doesn’t need that extra validation and normalization to prove
its existence. simply put, the apparatus in place does not give one
solitary fuck. this IS sport to them. think about how many police departments
have been exposed in the past year alone for racist chatter and emails.
it’s a sick game to those who you may know as well. your co-worker.
your partner’s family members. neighbors. they might be creating and
passing around horrid memes about Alton Sterling right now on forums like
Reddit and posting it on FB for shits and giggles. Even on LinkedIn.
or going after people on any social media platform with disparaging
words about Alton Sterling to dehumanize him further. bringing up
other past events in an attempt to silence, to oppress.
yeah, i’m weary.
weary. weary of another long hot summer where a city will burn under
the exposure of the pus-filled and vile underbelly that the cancer of
i also am dismayed because i see that there is also a disturbing undercurrent
of those who you would believe would be helping to organize the bolder
and stronger resistance in-fighting. or taking the moment to get into
“respectability politics” mode which is as bad as the “All Lives Matter”
crowd who tend to pop up like raw external hemorrhoids when a murder
like this happens. hashtag activists who will shit on those doing the actual
inglorious work of documenting what social justice work is taking place to
combat the system, shit on those providing safe space and help towards
self-care and mental health because it doesn’t fit some heroic “fight the
Man” elemental fantasy that they believe revolution is. or even those who
will hop into hashtags and social media posts just to get a rep or be noticed.
and the ever-faithful cynics. to quote from John Oliver Killens’ “The Coalition”,
“they are not the revolution.”
i say all that to say this:
if you are committed to not being silent about Alton Sterling’s murder, and
all of those who have become stolen lives all over this land, truly
committed…it means that you must amplify your voice. show solidarity to
those who protest. donate to social justice groups you know that will put that
work in. have the talks with those who may not be as willing to be that
involved. don’t shame others who have to step away from constant mention
of the tragedy because its triggering. it IS triggering for a great deal of people.
also, take the time to decompress and get your self-care if you need to.
try to avoid trolls and those back and forths on social media with craven
supporters both conscious and subconscious of the system. avoid any and
all opportunists. parents, godparents…if you have children that ask you the
hard questions, i pray you have the strength to answer them as best you
can with love and protection and wisdom. artists, write your poems, paint
your canvasses, sing with a million tears in your voice. check in with your
people, see how they’re keeping when you can. it may not seem like much,
but it is all vital and important. keep your peace, but channel
your rage into effective means to prepare for this war that has been waged
upon our bodies for centuries before there was a Louisiana or America. be
on guard even more so now, because summer in America has always been a
season of carnage that has been inflicted on black and brown people. this
just didn’t begin with Mike Brown and Ferguson. hell, Alton Sterling was
killed while selling CD’s. angry whites destroyed Tulsa’s Black Wall Street.
these wanton killings are to appease the cancer of racism that’s fed by a fear
that “their way of life will be extinct.” a fear that “we’ll take over.” that the
days of white mediocrity as standard are dwindling. that the prisms used to
cause the illusions are rapidly splintering apart. and to those friends, allies
and even family members through marriage who are white – practice the
method brought forth by sister Kayla Reed of OBS St.Louis:
A-always center the impacted
L-listen and learn from those who live in the oppression
L-leverage your privilege
Y-yield the floor
yes,we are all weary.
we are human, arguably more so than the wolves who commit
these acts “in the name of _________”.
we are Black, magical and real. and still.fucking.here. and we’ve proven we won’t go quietly into the night before. we’re not going anywhere.
it is another river to cross in another long, hot summer that some want to choke
us out of being. but we will cross it. we will do it for Alton, who was just a brother
trying to live out here as we all are as well as all the other sisters and brothers
young and old that have been taken from us like this.
thank you for reading and being present. walk good.