Archive for the ‘Mike Brown’ Tag

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

 

Yesterday’s History is for Today’s Time by Angenita Williams

I took my daughter to see Selma.

And I’m glad I did.

While I was vaguely familiar with the march to Montgomery, I wasn’t completely well versed in it. And neither was my daughter.

We were engrossed in the movie. Both of us were lost in the action of the film. I won’t spoil it for those who have not seen it, but there are moments in the movie that you know are coming, and your body still reacts to it. Your hands go to your face in the astonishment and at the sheer treatment of Black people. I am not sure if I would have been able to be alive in that time – living in fear because I happened to be born with a skin tone deeper than the “majority.”

The real deal occurred after we left the theatre.

She liked the movie. But she asked me about the other people who played a part in that march – John Lewis, Diane Nash, Andrew Young. When I asked her did she know those people, she stated no. My mouth fell open.

I followed up with who did she know that had anything to do with the Civil Rights Movement. She stated MLK, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. When I asked if she new anyone in history, she stated she knew who Madame CJ Walker and Harriet Tubman were. She knew the Black Panther Party. She knew Nelson Mandela. She knew Ruby Bridges and the Four Little Girls.

No WEB Dubois. No Langston Hughes. No Frederick Douglass. No Mary McCleod-Bethune. No Nat Turner. No Marcus Garvey. No Jean Toomer. No Dizzy Gillespie. No James Baldwin. No Nina Simone. No Harry Belafonte. No George Washington Carver. No Zora Neale Hurston. No Ralph Bunche. No Thurgood Marshall. No Shirley Chisholm. No Little Rock Nine.

I felt as if I failed as a parent. How can my child not know these people? These very important people helped our nation recognize that Black people were people. They shared their Black experience with the world. Some in that group helped pass laws that affected the lives of Black people. Some broke the barriers to become first to stand against the establishment. Some helped uplift, and inspire generations of Black people to fight for the right to simply exist.

I understand that schools, nor this nation as a whole, figure that Black history is not a part of this nation’s history…but it is. And it is very important that we give our kids the tools they need to learn about where they come from. Honestly, if they have no idea where they come from, how can they progressively move forward?

My daughter and I had a very in depth conversation about history. I showed her some books I have on the shelf to give her more insight. We watched YouTube. We Googled.

We have to keep our children equipped with the knowledge of our history. The Revolutionary War happened. Slavery happened. The Civil War happened. Reconstruction happened. Sharecropping happened. Jim Crow happened. Vietnam happened. The World Wars happened.

And Black people were involved every step of the way. Our kids need to see that. Although we were an oppressed people, we were smart. We figured out ways to communicate when the slave master told us we couldn’t. We took the scraps they gave us and turned them into a fine and distinct cuisine. We were trendsetters. People love our culture and our swag.

Our kids need to know that. Our kids need to understand that we can walk with heads held high and be proud of where we come from.

After all, this nation was built on the backs of my forefathers and my foremothers. That is very important to note. For without the contribution of Black people this would not be a nation worth being.

I vow to make it a point to place some knowledge in my daughter’s path. In doing so, I will learn more as well.

If you have not seen the movie Selma, I encourage you to do so. It is so relevant for today’s time…

Happy Birthday MLK!

Hands Up – A New Meaning by Delina Hill-Brooker

I was at my sons basketball game and everyone in the crowd was cheering for the kids and yelling, “Hands up! Hands up!” Although I know that they wanted them to be prepared to be able to get the ball, it instantly took my mind to Michael Brown and the “Hands Up” campaign.

From my perspective, looking onto the court where there were mostly Black boys and how this saying has already changed for them. I figured that they weren’t thinking along the same lines as I was. Mostly because they are boys and unless they are directly affected by something then they wouldn’t be in the same head space as me. Another thought, they should be more aware because this is their reality & they need to be aware.

It is so sad and unfortunate that the constant violence against our young, Black boys has changed the way that we have to raise them, how they need to react in private and in public. I can’t imagine always having to be on alert for my life. We have to do something. 2015 cannot be like 2014 in regards to the violence against us. I should be able to fully enjoy watching my son enjoy playing basketball without fearing the unknown.

Did We Forget That We Came From Royalty? By Delina Hill-Brooker

Let me start out by saying I’m sorry for not blogging in long while. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, (trust me; I ALWAYS have something to say). I’ve just been overly swamped with my life and kind of got out of rhythm, BUT I’M BACK with something I’ve been holding my tongue on.
I try not to watch the news obsessively. And by obsessively I mean every day, for hours etc. It’s too depressing and more of the same ole’, same ole’. It just doesn’t make me feel good, if they mostly focus on the wars, robberies, murders and mastermind white collar criminals. I usually tune in every three months or so, so that I can be abreast and not obsessed with what’s going on in the world.

When I first heard of the Mike Brown case, it wasn’t any different. Of course I wasn’t happy about yet another unarmed black male being unjustifiably killed; it reminded me of Trayvon Martin and all of the countless others who ended with similar fates. I did however watch the “breaking news” of the grand jury’s decision. Was I shocked? Hell no. Was I angry? Yes. Was I hurt? Absolutely! I called my son who is in college and never watches the news to tell him, “Do not go outside. Don’t even join in on the protests.” Why? Not because I didn’t want him to stand up for justice, but because I was afraid. How am I supposed to protect this Black young man in times like these when our people are rioting and looting and the police have their guards up?

When I watched the grand jury’s decision on the Eric Garner case, it was the same thing. I was once again reminded that I have two sons who just so happen to be Black. I was once again reminded that the majority of the youth that I am surrounded are young Black men. I was once again reminded that my husband and many of our friends are Black men. With all of those I realized that these things could in fact happen to anyone that I know. It became more personal. All of these attacks (I’ve only mentioned two of them), felt like a personal attack. I was waiting to see what Martin Luther King Jr. would say and I was reminded that “they” got him too. Where is Malcolm? There’s another one.

So you’re just going to continually unjustifiably keep killing our Black men? We’re just supposed to sit here and take it? How can we make this stop? How can we make a change?

This sat with me for days and weeks. We can’t continue to LET these things happen. While I am not okay with the violence, rioting and looting, I do understand the frustration of our people. The battle that we have been fighting is nothing new. This battle started with the first ship of slaves that were brought over to America. We have been in this war for 395 years. 395 years of the devil getting in the minds of the then slave masters and the majority of the Whites to make them believe that they were the superior race and could do any and everything to those who looked differently than them. 395 years of us being treated less than 100% of a person, and the devil brainwashing our people to believe that we were worthless, not equal to any other race of people, and we grew accustomed to accepting the injustice against us.

We never liked it. We always wanted and prayed for a change. Why? Because while the devil was busy doing his work, God was still in the mix and wouldn’t let that THING that let us know differently go. We couldn’t see the how, but we just knew that this was not okay and there had to be, would be a change.

I have a few thoughts on this. As a people we have forgotten where we came from. We were not oppressed people! In Africa, we were royalty. We were not what you see on the infomercials, skinny children, with flies in their faces, and large stomachs. The first people were people on the earth were people of color! These cases are our reminders, our wake up calls. Our children are being attacked. Our men are being murdered.

So what happened? What went wrong? How did we lose our spot? We turned our eyes away from God. We are not teaching our children the values that we had when we began in Africa. Our men are not being fathers. Our mothers are not being mothers. – We are being the fathers and are failing. The men can’t be the fathers because they were not fathered which has been a generational thing because of slavery our family units were continually broken up.

My ultimate thoughts are: History will repeat itself until we learn the lesson. Apparently there is a lesson to be learned. Since we are no longer slaves, segregated, and have the right to vote (even if we don’t always use it), doesn’t mean that we’ve arrived. We’ve become too comfortable and feel privileged when in fact; even at our perceived best we are still not living up to our fullest potential.

Another thought: We all need a major mental and emotional restructuring. Because of our history, we have learned to survive in this environment. A Black man being pulled over by a policeman is a totally different experience than a white man being pulled over. We have been conditioned to think that the standard of beauty is not what we look at in the mirror on a daily basis. The same way we have been conditioned, is the same for other races. They have also been conditioned to look at us in a certain light and expect less than stellar things from us because of their upbringing. We may not want to admit it, but there are prejudices, thoughts and feelings that go on in our heads about others. It’s not right, you may not always act on it, but it’s what we have been brought up as. Our realities are different because our pasts are different. It’s an unfortunate and sad reality. Instead of looking outside of ourselves for the change, the change starts at home. The change starts from within. Be the change that you want to see.

We need more positive examples in the community and media. Instead of complaining about it, be about it. Everyone is not meant to do everything, but everyone can vote! Start by being an informed voter to make sure the people we are putting into positions will do what is needed to makes sure the law is upheld. Stop focusing on only your family unit, go back to our roots, it takes a village to raise a family.

I got a little off base of what I wanted to say, but that’s where I am right now. This is how I feel. God bless.

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.

Tragedy and Travesty of Violence by Angenita Williams

 

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We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.

~ Jean-Paul Sartre

I cried when the Trayvon Martin verdict was read….I cried when I learned that Jordan Davis’ killer didn’t get convicted of his murder, but of attempted murder of his friends…I was in dismay and utter disbelief when Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, yet it doesn’t appear an arrest has been made…and angered at how long it took to even get a name of the police officer that shot Michael Brown…

I’m left with the questions of how can my son, grandsons, and nephews trust the police to protect and serve them when they are viewed threats and unworthy of living? How can the community not be in a state of fear and depression when oppressors are all around them? How do these actions and circumstances differ from a 1960’s state of America? Isn’t this modern-day lynching? When is that change gone come? How is it gonna come?

Our men are accustomed to being the last rung on the ladder when it comes to this country. They are put down as nothing; regarded to animals. A professor by the name of Charles Carroll details this in his book “The Negro A Beast” or “In the Image of God” published in 1900. And something from so long ago still resonates in our country. It’s also worthy to note, the Bible is also used in this book to justify that Black people are not human, and according to page 138 of that text, scientific research demonstrates that “no wooly-haired nation has ever had an important history.”

It doesn’t help that Black America cannot unite unless some tragedy occurs; nor does it help that our youth of today buck authority, and just don’t care. But how can they when they are resorted to being shot like raging beasts when all they try to do is surrender, break up a fight, or lay face down and follow orders? Can one even imagine how depressing living in that manner is? It’s a wonder that we still have some strong men left in our community.

The stereotype of Black America will always supersede the accomplishments of Black America, and that alone makes for a bleak existence in this country. What is extremely disheartening is that many folks in the community either believe the stereotype completely or perpetuate it. Look at those who leave the ‘hood never to return, and snub their noses at where they came from. What about those who don’t reach back to the ‘hood to help those in need? What about those who refer to their own people as “useless, unkempt, and unnecessary?” Whatever the case, though, stereotypes should never, ever equal death. Books should never be judged by their cover, and when it comes to our men, the covering of their skin is justifiable homicide…simply because of America’s belief that black men are simply unworthy and animalistic. Men who were once deemed as kings are resorted to being less important that mistreated dogs. (See Michael Vick.)

The protests happening in Missouri attempt to thwart the notion that we can be peaceful. But it’s kinda hard to do when you have armored tanks, weapons, and tear gas descending upon you when all you want is justice. It’s hard to turn a cheek when you are being bullied by the powers that be. It’s really difficult when your questions have no answers. Peace is extremely hard to attain when there are a few indignant people causing mayhem. At this stage, no one will remember the good about the situation (peaceful protestors protecting businesses), but the bad that is being done out there right now.

My favorite author, Maya Angelou said it best: “If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” The best way to get our respect – is to LOVE each other, and stand together to not only right the wrongs of the forces that are upon us, but to also dismantle the killing of our own people by our own people. The youth of today have generations of worthlessness upon them. I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it – fathers need to return to the home. The trends of the downfall of Black America can be directly correlated to the absence of a real dad. And when I say return to the home, I mean DO SOMETHING. Parent, participate, love, discipline, listen, and respect your kids. Because in all honesty, if we cannot come together and show that we are worthy, there are going to be many more Mike Browns, Eric Garners, Oscar Grants, Ezell Fords, Sean Bells, Trayvon Martins, Jordan Davis’s, Ramarley Grahams, etc…and justice will simply refuse to prevail.

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