Message to Black Lives Matters Critics … who happen to be Black

Black folk are not monolithic.   I know that there are some in America who believe we are.  But we didn’t all agree in Africa before we were sold into slavery.  We didn’t all agree while in the state of slavery.  We didn’t all agree upon emancipation.  We didn’t all agree during Jim Crow, during the civil rights movement, even about having civil rights.  Like any other group of humans, our views differ from liberal, conservative, ambivalent, apathetic.  We are engaged, passionate and absent.  And just as we don’t agree about who is the best MC, the best basketball player of all time, or whether peanut butter is better than chocolate, we don’t all view the Black Lives Matter movement as it relates to police brutality, systematic racism and so called Black on Black crime within our neighborhoods.

Locally speaking, since Michael Brown, many of my friends have been on the forefront of protest, civil disobedience or spreading the word via social media regarding police brutality as it relates to the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  They have fought hard through the midst of resistance from many of their White counterparts, White police unions, and administrations resistant to give up the power of their privilege.  Equally true is that St. Louis is enduring a sickening amount of shootings and murders this year.  There are many reasoning and debates for the escalations of violent crimes, from lack of policing in certain North Side areas, to a mindset among Black youth that they just don’t give a damn about taking a life.  As mentioned in the first sentence, we don’t share all of the same views, therefore we don’t share the same passions.  But unfortunately, instead of respecting one another’s passions for a common goal of bettering the community as best as we can, some of us are at odds in direct conflict against the other.  Specifically, some who are righteously frustrated with the crime being committed against one another, are upset at protesters of police brutality and Black Lives Matter.  The video below from Ferguson resident Peggy Hubbard is an example.

Hubbard isn’t the only one who has expressed these sentiments.  Many of my African-American friends on social media have asked after a murder, “Where are all the protesters now? Why aren’t they protesting or holding a rally for this?”  These are similar to some of my White counterparts who refuse to acknowledge or even justify their lack of interest and subsequent support of police brutality because there are Black criminals; as if there aren’t criminals within their own group.  The difference is that White folk generally aren’t shot, chocked, tased, or mysteriously found dead while in police custody.  I’ve had those conversations with my White friends.  I’ve explained to them, that there are differences in community concern about criminal behavior vs state sponsored oppression and brutality.  My neighbor is a citizen, my police, prosecutors and judges are compensated with tax dollars that I participate in contributing towards.  These have taken an oath to protect and serve righteously for all of it’s citizens.  Contrary to popular belief, we can actually care about both equally.  Not to mention if there is a murder or a robbery in my neighborhood, more times than not we are looking to those same police to solve those crimes and remove those criminals from among us.  Some of us believe these crimes aren’t as vigorously investigated in our neighborhoods as they would in a White neighborhood; thus the cycle continues.

What is missed however, is that there are and have been activities standing up for victims of violent crimes.  They may not be as prevalent or publicly covered as those against police brutality.   But they are there.

http://http://http://www.wsiltv.com/home/top-story/Hundreds-March-to-Stop-the-Violence-in-St-Louis-321964351.html

http://http://fox2now.com/2014/06/01/prayer-vigil-held-to-stop-the-violence-in-st-louis/

http://http://fox2now.com/2015/07/29/funeral-directors-and-morticians-to-hold-stop-the-violence-rally-this-sunday/

Thus my message isn’t to my White counterparts who are anti-Black Lives Matter or anti-police brutality against people of color; though they can get some too if they like.  But specifically to those who like Ms. Hubbard, single mother with a son who is incarcerated, to my Black friends who poo poo the folk fighting the system of government oppression because they think these protesters should protest all things Black struggle, is get off your asses and do it yourself!  If there aren’t enough black protest and rallies against crime in your view, then dammit start one.  Gather like minded individuals, organize and get your asses out in these streets.  Why  be in conflict with your brothers and sisters who are fighting for your right to be equally valued lawfully in the system in which we all rely to a certain extent.  If I am in danger and I can’t solve the issue, I’m calling the police.  I have police who are good friends of mine.  But that prevent me from having a passion against police who are out to kill me.  There is no conflict for me to love my police friends while jamming Fuck The Police in my ride simultaneously.  It seems to me that the folk who DO have the problem are sitting at their computers or making videos or posting empty challenges to folk who are doing something, because they aren’t doing a damn thing.

I have given three examples of people who are making a difference in partaking in efforts that are related to our community, though not the same exact focus.  Hell I’ll throw in a fourth just for good measure.

http://http://fox2now.com/2015/04/29/homicide-in-north-st-louis-highlights-we-must-stop-killing-each-other-campaign/

0b6d3200-0a02-4e37-a20d-247608692ec3-620x372

The point is, even if you are not a good organizer, there are some people doing some things in the area of crime in Black neighborhoods.  Join them.  It’s just plain ignorant and unproductive to ask those who are focused on police brutality to do your damn passion too.  Get off the sidelines, and do something and make us all stronger.  If not, then by all means stay in your lane and STFU!

Advertisements

Congrads to UConn!

UConn's Tina Charles, right, grabs a rebound over Louisville's Deseree' Byrd during the first half of the championship game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Though I love the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, I can’t be mad at UConn for utterly dominating the entire field of women’s college basketball for a whole season. 

When I watched the open practices the other day I looked for Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery because they were all the hype on TV.  Both of them are outstanding.  But the player I was most impressed with was center Tina Charles.  Watching the Jamaica, NY native it was clear that her skill set was some of the best I’ve seen.  So it’s no surprise that she dominated the championship game with 25 points and 19 rebounds.  She was just poetry and power in motion.

Geno Auriemma is no joke as a coach either.  I listened to him talk to some television people including former Huskie Rebecca’s Lobo the other day and it’s easy to see how he masters the art of motivation.  I mean he can talk for days and days about whatever subject and you have to listen to him because he is so provocative.  Typically Italian he’s going on with the hands and the hair is perfect.  But the knowledge is simple and profound.  This guy is an old school throwback of values and simplicity for excellence.  I can’t hate him like I used to.

Black on the 4th of July

 

Go to fullsize image

As this nation celebrates its 238th birthday I am annually conflicted with the holiday.  For me, its a day off work and in this case paid I may add so its all good.  As a youth it meant fireworks, hotdogs and picnics.  I don’t recall a lot of talk about independence from England with the exception of 1976.  That was the 200th year or Bicentennial.  Otherwise, back then as it is today its about the festivities and in some years as this one a three day weekend.

As an American of African descent I am not sure how to comprehend this day.  I love my country for sure.  I love it enough to embrace its virtues and criticize its faults.  I am a patriot but not a nationalist.  Also I happened to have recently read Dick Gregory’s book “Callous On My Soul.”  Talk about great Americans… Gregory is one of the greatest Americans we have ever produced.  Anyway, in this book I have learned so much more about both the virtues and vices of this country we call America.  And considering the racism, classicism, poverty, and arrogance we so readily embrace, as a young nation we still have far to go to be as great as we think we are.  In many ways we live in separate Americas.  One for white and one for black, one for rich and one for poor.  One for those who are in and another for those who are out.  And yet when we celebrate these type of holidays we are expected to embrace the meanings in the same fashion.

I think of September 11th and how that forever changed many in America in terms of how they viewed their own patriotism and vulnerability.  But what about the many people of African descent, Native American as well as poor whites have viewed their patriotism and vulnerability.  For this I reference Gloria Ladson-Billings who argues:

Over and over people in this country describe the world as pre-September 11 and post-September 11.  Yes, this is a significant date, for now, but it takes history to determine whether or not it will become a teleological fault line.  For me time and chronology can be divided in an infinite number of combinations: Pre-April 4, 1968 (assassination of MLK) and post-April 4, 1968, pre summer of 1963 and post-summer of 1963 (bombing of the little girls in the Birmingham church), pre-summer of 1955 and post-summer of 1955 (murder of Emmett Till).  Each of these events made me feel less safe, less secure, less able to lay claim to any notion of myself as American. 

This illustrates a voice of Americans rarely heard and mostly ignored.  This makes sense in that in 1776 independence was not meant for people who were not Europeans.  So in essence the freedom they sought was also freedom to hold and sell slaves, freedom to rape and oppress others etc.  And even if one does not believe in reparations certainly a sincere apology may be at the very least useful.  This probably won’t happen in my lifetime – and thus the conundrum.

As Michael Eric Dyson explains in his book, Pride, “During July 4 celebrations, some blacks spurn the holiday altogether, because the freedom celebrated is segregated by skin color and even class at times.  They resonate with Langston Hughes’ plaintive poem. “Let America Be America Again,” when he says, “America never was America to me/…(There’s never been equality for me, /Nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free.’)  Other blacks are torn.  One the one hand, they completely resonate with their bitterly disappointed brothers and sisters.  One the other hand, they acknowledge that black blood, sweat, and tears have built this country.  Hence they echo Martin Luther King Jr. when he declared, “I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”  King was responding, perhaps to mean-spirited critics who would dare deny blacks who fought for the nation’s freedom their right to criticize American in love as a gesture of profound patriotism.  Such critics use a pat line that is truly trite: “If you don’t like America, go back to where you came from.”  But as Deborah Mathis says of blacks, “Most of us – 91 percent – were born and have lived only here.” 

The Seven Deadly Sins

One thing is for sure… without the diversity that is evident in this nation – America would not be what it is today.  By this I mean in terms of industry, commerce, and culture.  And good bad or indifferent, people of color ARE and will always be a large part of America.  I close with the words of Stevie Wonder who in his song Black Man (written for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration) spoke truth to power when he said:

Now I know the birthday of a nation
Is a time when a country celebrates
But as your hand touches your heart
Remember we all played a part in America
To help that banner wave

Complete Lyrics of Black Man

A Call To Oneness – A Success!

The interfaith movement targeted at stopping the violence and reclaiming the streets of the St. Louis metropolitan area named, “A Call To Oneness” started off in fine fashion.  Friday nights panel discussion for the men had a healthy mix of professionals from all walks of life.  The panelist included Eric Rhone,(Entertainment/Business manager) Hon. Judge Jimmy Edwards, (Chief Juvenile Court City of St. Louis) Eugene  Willingham, (CEO, A Soldier of God Clothing) Kenneth Boyd (Author, Know Thyself Psychologically) William Polite, (Educator/ Author, “Hood Infectious Virus) Troy Buchanan, (Health Education/Youth Activity Instructor) and James Muhammad. (Dynasty Hip-Hop Inc. Mentoring Program)  The program held at Shalom Church City of Peace was moderated by former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr and facilitated by Jacque Land of 100 Black Men of St. Louis.   All of the speakers were informative and real.  They shared openly about their experiences and what the responsibilities are for the older and younger men.   During the question and answer period the younger teens were given first priority to ask questions.  Legendary civil rights leader Norman Seay and St. Louis Urban League head James Buford were given awards for their long time community service.

Saturday there were a host of workshops for the “Day of Information and Implementation” given.  On Sunday the “Day of Worship, Witness & Reconciliation” march took place.  The turnout was impressive as 20-25 thousand men packed the streets of St. Louis starting at Page and Kingshighway.  The march ended at Tandy Park in the city’s mostly African-American north side of town.   Women and children lined the streets cheering on the men as they marched and called for “One” meaning one community.  At the park park there were speeches given by some of the more prominent and influential politicians in the area and the game plan was laid out for the next steps of the long term “Oneness” agenda. 

First there will be units of block organizers and facilitators who will go door to door in order to pull local communities togehter.  Second an organizing of men 35 and under who will serve as mentors for as many younger boys and men as possible.  Overall this is just the beginning, but there was a definite commitment from both the Christian and Muslim leadership involved to make this mission a permanent one.  Big ups to the visionary of this collaborative mission Rev. Dr. F. James Clark, pastor of Shalom Church, and his committee including Minister Donald Muhammad for bringing this together. 

The day was awesome and the unity was beautiful.  I had never seen that many people gathered for anything in the City of St. Louis.  We even got coverage from CNN!  I pray this will help bring our community together and promote the unity we desperately need. 

Photo Gallery ~ L-R from the top

1. Panel Discusson 2. Judge Jimmy Edwards 3. Dr. Clark, Norman Seay, Min. Muhammad, Jacque Land, 4. Motor Cycle Convoy lining up for the march, 5. The Kappas 6. The Q’s 7. The Leaders starting the march 8. The Black Panter Party 9. The Community of Marchers 10. Women of Islam 11. State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed 12. The Leaders make the Call To Oneness 13. Myself with St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa 14. Myself and Normal Seay 15. Alderman Mike McMillan 16. Minister Donald Muhammad 17. Movin The Crowd 18. Minister James Muhammad