Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK:
Thank you, Jasiri X, for continuing to make that Abolitionist Music! Let's Get Free!
I remember the night Troy Davis was lynched. I remember the anxiety I felt -- the sadness and the worry. And then I remember thinking that I had no right to feel so much. I imagined what Davis and his family must have felt and I wanted to respect and honor that.
Just before the lynching, I went for a jog around my neighborhood in South Los Angeles. I remember running, sprinting, trying to rid myself of all that “so much” that I felt.
I was running towards a freedom of my mind, spirit and body. But my stride was halted when a police car crept up beside me.
I had to remember that I was a Black man now. And a Black man running on concrete could easily be the death of me in the United States. So I stopped and walked slowly instead.
I made eye contact with the officers. I didn’t smile. I didn’t frown. I stared. There was nothing in my eyes that would make them see me as anything other than a Black man running on a night when we were all being reminded nationally that Blackness makes you guilty, criminal, not worthy of life, and all the evidence needed -- your Black skin and feet crossing the road.
It didn’t matter that I had grown up a Black woman. I didn’t matter that I was a PhD candidate at USC. It didn’t matter that I had a family and friends who loved me. My bright smile didn’t matter because they would never be able to see it. None of those things that would need to be pulled out in some courtroom after my death to prove me a “good” person mattered in that moment.
The officers glanced me over and I feared if I had kept running they might shoot. I knew then that Troy Davis would certainly be put to death. And he was.
I remember riding the BART the night Oscar Grant was murdered.
I remember watching the film, Fruitvale Station, last week with friends in New York. I remember my tears. I remember the deafening silence that lingered in the theater as the credits rolled.
I remember the last scene. Daughter looking up to mother in shower and asking, “Where is Daddy?” They were alone now and what was missing, the silence between them would never be able to fill.
What this film did so brilliantly was to show the spectacular violence that Black people are subject to from everyday living. Yes, Oscar Grant was an everyday brother from Oakland. He was struggling to make ends meet, struggling to stay out of prison, and struggling to be a support to his family.
His mother, like many parents in the Bay on New Years Eve, told him to take the BART because that would be safer than driving with so many after party people on the road. But public amenities are not always safer for us Black people, People of color, queer people, transgender people, women, and poor people.
What is designated public is not always safe or adequate for the people who use those services. The recent gutting of The Voting Rights Act and the dismantling of public school education all across the country are but two examples of the ways in which peoples’ indelible rights are constantly being revoked or revised to obsolescence.
If one can’t afford private school or a car service on New Years Eve there should be no risk, but it is apparent that there are for Black people, people of color, and poor people.
We must continue to demand that our public systems benefit the people who need the education, health care, transportation, and job services the most. We must not allow our public expenses to be spent on building more prisons and policing regimes that do not benefit us.
We must begin to ask ourselves hard questions like — What does safety look like if it does not come in the form of more police and incarceration?
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