Battle Lines

I am sure most of the nation has heard/read about Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos of NYPD who were murdered over the weekend. And while I sincerely wish that I can say that I am surprised that this has happened, I am not. As word of the officers’ deaths hit the news Facebook and Twitter went berserk as the immediate bastions of gut reaction opinions flew. What I am surprised at is how quickly battle lines have emerged because of this.

While few argue that the killing of the NYPD officers was wrong, posts/comments/private messages along the lines of “I guess you’re happy now” that popped up over the weekend gives a definite sense that some who are against the protests in Ferguson and NYC seemed to think those who protest and/or support the protestors are somehow engaged in Schadenfreude over this weekend’s killings. Are you fucking kidding me? I was so aghast that anyone would ever think such a thing  of any protestor, let alone me personally. I unfriended them without even bothering to engage in debate.  From what I’ve since gathered from the handful of mutual acquaintances among us it’s just as well, but as the kids say “I can’t…”

This is not an either or situation. The support of #BlackLivesMatter does not negate support of #NYPDLivesMatter.

  1. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner et al, at the hands of their respective local police is a tragedy.
  2. The assignations of Officers Liu and Ramos at the hands of Ismaaiyl Brinsley is also a tragedy.

In a previous posted I asked “Or Does It Explode?” The fuse, already lit in the aftermath of the Ferguson and New York City grand jury decisions, has the general vibe between police and minorities at a high level of tense. Both sides were walking on proverbial eggshells. Things have yet returned to anything near normal levels of tense – whatever the hell that is; the killings of Officers Liu and Ramos this past weekend have not helped at all.

Just as at our cores we know that it is #NotAllPolice are out to get us, we hope they equally know #NotAllBlacks are out to assassinate them.  The LAST thing we need is for a black man to be accidentally taken out while jogging on the street or while walking a dog because he got too close to a police car because the officers inside perhaps felt threatened.

I am praying and praying hard that the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley have furthered that ignition along the fuse.

#AllLivesMatter

Or Does It Explode?

I can see my personal quest for inner calm is in direct defiance of my continual reading of news regarding the lack of a grand jury indictment in Ferguson, MO.

When I first read about the verdict I literally threw up my hands in frustration. That action immediately put to mind the classic Marvin Gaye song “Inner City Blues” which I posted to my Facebook.

ferguson

I wake up this morning to the snippets of the evidence presented at trial all over the news and social media. If what has thus far ben released to the public as a way to substantiate the grand jury’s correctness in their decision, it has backfired greatly my eyes.

I’ve seen some of the photo evidence of Office Wilson’s “injuries”. They range from what looks like razor burn or heat rash to a simple scratch. I’ve marred myself more popping a pimple.

And as I angrily posted this morning upon seeing the above picture:

ferguson2

That was his personal evidence? THAT was worth someone’s life? NO!

I know. I KNOW, I was not at the trial. I have not perused all the evidence that was presented to the grand jury – now released to the public. I have seen several snippets that have thus far been posted to news and social media. Those alone, at least to me, make it worthy of a trial.

All I can think right now is: Has the value of black lives, which were always of questionable value in this country historically once we stopped being chattel in the country anyway, lowered so far down the scale that the death of one in such fashion is not even worth a damn trial?

Last night’s outbreaks of violence in the aftermath of the verdict, reminds me very much of what happened after Rodney King. And to be honest, while I understood the anger that drove it, I did not understand the point of the LA riots in 1992 any more than I understand these outbreaks in Ferguson now. Being afraid to step foot in or out of the door of your local business because your own neighbor may have a Molotov at the ready, does nothing to help the situation. I’ve lived just long enough to see that while the details change, it still all feels a harsh ring of deja vu with history repeating itself.

Here we Americans stand some two hundred and thirty plus years of freedom from England. We blacks stand some one hundred and fifty years free from slavery, but sometimes I feel like we’re still bound. The Civil Rights Movement has done much for the outer trappings, yet we are still such a long way from the inner heart of the dream of Rev. Dr. King. And it seems every generation or so, a match gets lit to a powder keg to remind of us of just how far we have left to go before that dream comes true. In the interim, it still remains a dream deferred and Langston Hughes best explained the possible ramifications of such…

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

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It’s a pretty pissed off Raivenne slicing here – come see how others are slicing it up today:

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers

Slice of Life Weekly Writing Challenge | Two Writing Teachers

It’s All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating…

I haven wanted to write commentary on the racial unrest that happening in this country (again). I feel like I should be writing something. I just find it so hard to do without getting angry. So I ask for a little tolerance as I just spill it out as I think it.

I know there are millions of out there in this country where we never will know each other, billions who will never have a direct impact on my life. Yet there are so many who do and will impact my life in a positive way and I do not want wash all white people and cops with that oh so broad, us versus them, paint brush. Because yes, I do have friends who are officers and I know them to be the good guys we were taught to believe in as tykes watching Sesame Street and that they do exist now that I am well into my adulthood. And yes, I really do have friends who are white, who have jumped to offer succor when I was going through a rough patch in my life, as I have in theirs. I know they are not the bad guys because I have gotten to know them. They know I am not they bad guy, because they in turn have come to know me.

Regrettably, it is of little balm when at the beginning of this summer I am on the street attempting to hail a taxi and the driver slows in my direction only to blatantly pass me by to pick up the white couple maybe 30 feet further down from me. When that same couple who knew I was there before them looked at me, shrugged, opened the door to the cab and got in anyway. It is of no balm when I have to force myself to stay positive when I learn a month ago my son, who walks dogs part time, was detained by an officer because “some random citizen called the cops” while he was walking a client’s dog. Never mind that he had a key to the building to have access to the dog. Never mind that the dog clearly knew my son, he is accused of stealing said dog. Why? In the predominantly white neighborhood of his client, my son did not look like any of the tenants. Because clearly my child, yes he’s a thirty year old adult male, but as all mamas understand he will always be my child, as a black man could not possibly live in that neighborhood and own such a dog in his own right, right? Riiiight. My son is stuck explaining himself to the unbelieving officers until a neighbor of the dog’s owner happened by and vouched for him. It was something very simple that ended well, no harm perhaps, but very foul. Still as a mother, I could not help but be cognizant, yet very grateful, that this confrontation did not go in a very different direction. I am also very cognizant and very pissed that this event came to fruition solely because he was literally walking a dog while black. It is of little balm to the litany of racial acts subtle, such as the taxi and dog incidents mentioned above, or more overt as so recently demonstrated in the news, that is a constant part of my existence as a person of color in this country.

A few years ago I was once told by an erstwhile friend that I see race in nearly everything and that’s just not the way it is. I in turn accused him of blatantly choosing to see race in nothing and that’s just not the way it is. How does the saying go? Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. Names like Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Stewart, Yusef Hawkins, Anthony Baez, Rodney King, Patrick Dorismond, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo and James Byrd Jr., come far too easily to my mind’s history. Yet each new flare-up – Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Marlene Pinnock, Eric Garner and now Michael Brown, proves even knowing the history does little stop it from repeating. It is as though there has become this unspoken understanding that murdering blacks and calling it self-defense, or justifiable/in the line of duty is supposed to somehow dissolve the racial hierarchy in this country. So who has the right of it?

Is any of this anything new in history, the realities of living black specifically? Honestly, no. As a culture, the majority of us have lived with this as a sub routine of sorts in our consciousness on the daily for a couple of centuries now. When it was one person’s word versus another, most of such news was quickly buried under the burden of no real proof. Until it was something so bad, that it made national headlines. Can you say Emmitt Till? The advent of so many with smart phones now, able to immediately capture and then upload images/videos has helped. And social media, for all its foibles makes each occurrence captured readily available to the general public and national headlines sooner. Yet for all that we hear about, we all know that there are so many others whose names will never be listed.

I hope that this is that stage in history repeating itself, that this is the worst that it will get, and things are soonish going change for the better. I want to have hope, I really do. Because not to hope means that more names will be added to that ever growing list. So even as I hope, please understand as I pray in the interim that the names of my loved ones and I are not to be among them.