Archive for the ‘Ferguson’ Category

Independence Day Reality by Angenita Williams

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Picture taken in St. Louis, MO.

I visited St. Louis over the Independence holiday. My family resides literally around the corner from Ferguson. I asked my cousin to take me through the neighborhood that was engulfed in flames about two years ago.

As she drove through the streets, I saw emptiness. I saw a shell of a place that was teetering on the brinks of poverty. I saw Mom and Pop stores that once serviced the neighborhood, and I saw some still striving.

Something stirred in me as we drove to the place where it happened…where he was shot.

There was no mark on this site. There was no memorial. There wasn’t a trace of Michael Brown. But there was an aura…a hanging loneliness marked by life taken too soon. A wave of despair as I visualized that day for him. My heart pained for his parents. My soul searched for words that I couldn’t say. I felt an eerie chill go up my spine. I was there.

I envisioned what I saw on the TV during the days of the riots. My cousin pointed out the places that were in flames, she showed me where they marched on the police station. She showed me empty lots where businesses once stood, proud to be a part of the economy.

Remnants of seething anger were left behind. I saw it all. And I felt empty. Hollow. Missing. The uproar happened…and it left the TV screen. People went back to living as they were, although the undercurrent of the event is still there. The aftermath is still there. People lost a lot those days: a mother and father lost a son. Some people lost their jobs. Business owners lost their businesses.

And yet, after all of that, the killings of unarmed Black people still continue. As I write this, a 37-year-old father was killed in Baton Rouge, LA. By cops. On video. Plain as day. And a 32-year-old man was shot for a traffic stop. Eleven Dallas cops were shot and five died.

These stories permeate our timelines on social media. We speak behind keyboards about our rage, how saddening this is, and how we pray for their families. Empty #RIP hashtags don our newsfeeds. Tears fall. We say not another one. We say how can this continue to happen. We say let’s fight against this. Then we have those that say well, you only get angry when it’s a cop murdering unarmed Black people, and talk about Black on Black crime.

The Black on Black crime stance always rubs me the wrong way. There are so many people that say if our young Black men would stop killing each other, then the police would stop killing our sons and daughters. This line of thinking is backwards. Here’s why:

Black lives never mattered to the powers that be. If they did, slavery would not have existed to the brutal level that it did. Reconstruction would have leveled the playing field by really giving the freed slaves their forty-acres and a mule to get a jump-start instead of the mess of sharecropping.  Actually help with the bootstraps to pull up. It would not have been against the law for slaves to read or write. Jim Crow would have never existed. The Civil Rights Movement would not have been necessary.

The only way that Black lives mattered were when our ancestors worked the fields in toil to build empires. When Black women were raped and used as sexual slaves for the master…to procreate and increase the property value of the master.  And most of all, introduce a religion, use a religion, to keep the slaves scared and in “their place.” When you consistently and constantly show a group of people that their lives don’t matter, when you show nothing but contempt and hate, it becomes internalized. They hate their skin…and the skin of their peers. Take dads from the home; remove the foundation, and you have this so-called Black-on-Black crime.

As with any crime, we victimized what we know, who we know. More than likely, that looks just like us. This goes for every race. Black on Black crime has been sensationalized to somehow be worse than any other race. But I’m sure one will find that White-on-White or Hispanic-on-Hispanic or Asian-on-Asian, or Native American-on-Native American crime has probably the same amount of crime per capita simply because people tend to  live in the same neighborhoods where your neighbors look a lot like them.

Michael Brown was headed to college. Sandra Bland was headed to her Alma mater. Freddie Gray was headed home…just like Trayvon, Oscar, Akai. Eric and Alton tried to make a little money to support a family. Rekia was laughing with friends. Jordan was listening to music with his friends. Tamir was playing in the park with a BB gun – something that many kids play with. John Crawford was in Wal-Mart walking around on the phone.  Tanisha, Donte, and Ezell had mental illnesses. LaQuan crossed the street. Philandro followed orders.

Yet Dylann can murder nine people in a church in cold blood, and be escorted out in a bulletproof vest. George Zimmerman is still free. Darren Wilson is in jail for assaulting his wife. Countless videos of non-minority people  who hit, spit, have weapons such as hatchets or knives show how these particular people manage to be subdued without a gun…or they are let go. The shooters of Alton and Philandro are on paid administrative leave (AKA vacation).

We drove away from the scene. I took everything in. My heart fluttered and felt pain when we turned around. I left the city of Ferguson behind, but the streets, the uproar, the feelings of anger brewed under my skin. The things I saw are forever etched in my memory. I leave this blog with a few quotes:

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible. ~ Maya Angelou

Black power can be clearly defined for those who do not attach the fears of white America to their questions about it. ~ Stokely Carmichael

There’re two people in the world that are not likeable: a master and a slave. ~ Nikki Giovanni

Acceptance of prevailing standards often means we have no standards of our own. ~ Jean Toomer

When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. ~ Shirley Chisholm

You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity. ~ Bobby Seale

Is it a crime, to fight, for what is mine? ~ Tupac Shakur

 

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Utopia by Angenita Williams

So much has been said about the tragedy of Ferguson. So much has been said about black on black crime and how we, as Black people, should really focus on that. So much has been said in regards to why the Black community needs more cops because Black commit the most crimes. So much has been said about race relations. So much…

Yet, while so much has been said, nothing has been said or listened to. Nothing has been absorbed into the minds of the United States of America. It shows with the blatant, intolerant, racist, and disrespectful remarks against young Black men who are killed, the people who march to protest the unlawful killings, and the brutal disregard for a human life under the guise of law.

It’s been open season on Black people – not just the men. The women as well. We are seen as beasts…unnatural, super strong abnormalities that have polluted this earth. Although…it was our people that built the pyramids. (Remember, they cannot be duplicated.) It was our people who scribed history on the walls of caves. The people who share skin tones of various hues taught this world how to read, count, season food, and build villages. My people were taken from their land to build this conundrum of takeover.

And we are supposed to just get over it. Although we are still feeling the consequences. Although slavery has taken the form of prison and mind poisoning through “reality” television and “hip-hop.”

I watched as my grandkids fell asleep. My grandson put his arm under my granddaughter, and they fell asleep holding on to one another. It was so moving to see their closeness. They are two (grandson) and three (granddaughter). And they already realize they have to hold on to each other. Even in slumber.

It also saddened me. This is my second generation. And to know that I am going to have to advise them that their skin makes them a target breaks my heart. I’m going to have to tell my grandson that even when he’s right, he’s wrong. He will always fit the description. And for my granddaughter, it’s virtually the same. And both will have to have smartphones so they can record their encounters. (If they have smartphones by then.)

What a sad, cold, cruel world…or maybe I should say – America.

What can we do to change things? Honestly, I don’t know. We are dealing with people who are told what to think, and not how to think. If we come with something that is outside the box…it’s preposterous! We are crazy. How dare we go outside what has been fed to us? Why cause that trouble?

Imagine how good things would be if we worked together to fix this broken system…

But we can’t because…let’s face it…we live in a country where skin color means more than the content of one’s character. A country where money drives everything.

I guess this is…Utopia…at least for those with rose-colored glasses on. And money to blind those that don’t.

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