Real talk about Jay-Z.
Violence against women and girls is a global problem. It is a human rights violation that is ignored too often!
I have spent the week avoiding as much coverage as possible on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Anyone who has asked what I was doing on the day when the news was delivered about the shooting and death of JFK, receives an abbreviated account of what I was doing on that day.
It is not like I cannot give a full accounting of what I was doing. I can share that moment with a lot of details. I can also share my memories of the days that followed.
The discussion that I would like to see occur regarding assassinations goes beyond the death of JFK. I would like to see it expand out to what type of impact of living with the knowledge of repeated assassinations has had on my generation.
No one ever asks what I was doing when the news of Malcolm’s, Martin’s or Bobby’s deaths reached me. JFK is always the person of inquiry during those moments.
The group of individuals that are mentioned were all assassinated. The death of JFK dominates because he was a sitting American President. But in reality, all four of these men were murdered for different reasons.
If we really think about it, Malcolm X is excluded from the traditional grouping of assassinated leaders.The traditional grouping is Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. This grouping was formed in a song and has remained a solid image in the minds of many Americans.
I realized during a private moment during this past week, that Malcolm and Martin’s deaths were often framed as expected events. While the deaths of John and Bobby Kennedy have always been treated as unexpected events. What type of message does this send to people within the American society and the global community?
The era of assassinations spanned from childhood years into my mid-teens. To declare that I have been indifferent to this type of domestic terrorism would be a lie. Each of those murders had an impact on my life because the individuals had some form of direct or indirect influence on our lives.
I have no doubt that if people of my generation were questioned on how assassination shaped our view of America, there would be a plethora of answers. Those answers would be based on how individuals felt about the individual leaders, their political or social justice stances, their race and their class position within the society.
The Boomers are identified as being the youth culture that forced a lot of change within the American society. However, it should be noted that there were also conservative youths as well.
I suspect that the “radical” movements have always been the focus of the different eras because of changes that occurred within the society. I have no problem with understanding why there is a sector of the national American population that wants to see the cultural setting return to the era prior to the movements. Those were eras in which the truth had been altered to create a hybrid existence that did not hold the society at large accountable for policies and social customs that oppressed„ degraded and even killed people.
One of the things that I am willing to share about the affect of living with the reality of assassinations is this. When you are a child, assassination sends a message, that if you are daring enough to be in opposition of the current cultural norms, you run the risk of being killed for that position. Violence is held up as the way to resolve conflicts and that home grown American terrorism has no true boundaries within our society.
The belief that if the individual is murdered, their death will stop whatever movement or impact that an individual has on the society at large will cease is totally incorrect. If anything it will make that individual take on a dimension of being a martyr and whatever ideas they were forwarding become even more important because their blood was shed for those reasons.
What I have also learned is the fact that the truth about the lives of assassination victims are often polished to cover over whatever truths or flaws in their character existed prior to their deaths.
One of the annoying things about the re-visiting of the JFK assassination is the doses of truths that are being released to the public fifty years later. Facts that have been held hostage because someone decided that the public at large was not capable of handling those truths or flaws. They are released in neat little dosages long after the victims are laid to rest. Those timed releases are reminders that we still reside in a nation that is unwilling to admit that violence is a tool used to stop disruptions of the society. That the stories we were lead to believe were true are often gleaned from the events to make things appear to be set in one frame when in fact they are often larger than the original story line.
There is no way to defend the idea that randomly assaulting people has some level of political or social value. The idea that we should defend any individual or group who decides to just move about the city knocking out people for the fun of it, is an indication that we need to really think about what type of agenda we can support and what type of agenda we need to oppose.
The Knockout Game is not new. It was going down when my oldest son was a teenager, which was back in the Eighties. He took it upon himself to warn me about paying attention to dudes who were going around knocking out people for the fun of it. At that particular time I had a long mass transit commute home from work and often crossed paths with a lot of young males who were heading home from school. He was concerned about my safety. After we talked, I found myself feeling very uncomfortable whenever there were singular or groups of young Black males too close to my person. That uncomfortable feeling is one that I was unaccustomed to dealing with. It is also a feeling that has now become very familiar and I often chide myself for allowing to rise up in my thoughts.
I honestly did not understand why anyone would find it fun to just assault someone without a purpose. This was not about a gang initiation or even about robbing someone. It was just supposed to be this game that a bunch of young Black males thought was cool. A violent form of fun. No purpose other than the bragging rights that came after the intended target hit the ground.
There was a period for a few weeks when the word was spread around the community about the potential danger of becoming a victim. That was really a disturbing moment because the idea of being fearful of a Black male was not totally alien but the players of the game was making it difficult to feel comfortable where we lived. A lot of reports about people being assaulted were making the news. This cause a larger than usual police presence and the heat that goes with that show of force. A lot of males were hassled during that time.
A young man decided that he would try this on one of the Black male transit workers. Instead of knocking the driver out, the young man was carried off the bus on a stretcher on his way to the hospital and then to jail.
When the local news reported the story, his mama was on television acting a damn fool. She was crying, falling out and demanding that the community rally up on her son’s behalf because a grown man had injured him. She seemed not to realize that the reason why her son was on the way to the hospital was due to him throwing the first punch and not being successful at knocking the driver out.
Instead of the outcry that she wanted on her son’s behalf. She received the wrath of the community as a response. No one responded in support of her son. She seemed surprised that the response was pro the driver giving him a beat down. He is the one that had people rallying on his behalf with the officials of the transit system.
A lot of people in the community had pulled their guns out. At that particular time it was not legal to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio. But it had no bearing on how people felt about their right to be safe and more importantly not to be injured by anyone who thought they could have fun in this manner.
The incident involving the driver seemed to have cooled out that trend. A lot of older Black adults also made it known that they would hate to have to shoot someone’s son but if that is what it took to put a stop to the madness, they would fire and take their chances in court.
Yesterday, there were two articles that appeared on my news feed about this form of bullying. A young man was shot by a 60 year old woman. A lot of people supported her response. I won’t act like I was not one of them. I really have no holla for any male of any age assault a woman. It is a damn shame that they even selected her as a target.
The second story was about members of the Jewish community somewhere in New Jersey confronting a group of males that had been identified as individuals who were knocking out people.
There was a comment made by a Black male that pissed me straight off.
He dared to imply that we should protect our youth from being confronted even though they were wrong.
I can’t get with that mentality. There is no way in the hell that I would even entertain the thought of trying to protect a bully.
This action has no political value or social value for that matter. It may be fun to the person delivering the blow, but how many times has someone done something that was supposed to be “fun”, only to discover afterwards that it was actually the beginning of their own personal tragedy.
Three San Jose State University students were charged yesterday with misdemeanor hate crime and battery after allegedly confining their black roommate with a bike lock and subjecting him to racial taunts, a prosecutor said.
University police Wednesday afternoon were preparing arrests warrants for college freshmen Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner and Logan Beaschler, who are all 18, according to Deputy District Attorney Erin West.
"Post-Racial America" seems to be very much like the America that we have always lived in.
This is a link to an essay written by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante that provides a counter perspective on Henry Louis Gates narrative that Africans were involved in the slave trade.
It is definitely worth taking the time to read and to do some serious mental digestive thinking about. Dr. Asante brings a historical perspective into plain view on this particular aspect of Our Story.
I woke up this morning, I could see and I could breathe. But tell me, are there any rights I’m entitled to?
Lyrics from Are there any rights I’m entitled to?
Sweet Honey in the Rock
I woke up the a.m. with thoughts about an incident that occurred yesterday while I was out running errands. An incident that has caused me to really do some serious thinking about the message that is being relayed about Black women in my community.
I went out to get some fresh air and to make a quick store run One of the items that I wanted to purchase was at the corner store. It is a pretty decent little establishment and the staff is usually pretty friendly.
However, yesterday it was an entirely different situation. I opened the door and walked into a serious verbal confrontation that was occurring between the owner of the store and two black women.
The basic gist of their disagreement had to do with the fact that owner decided to stalk them in his car when they pulled out of the parking lot because he thought that they had done some type of illegal transaction before getting in their car. Apparently he decided that it was okay to jump in his ride and go speeding down the street after them. The women had their children in the car and were headed home when the driver noticed that they were being followed by an unfamiliar car. Neither one of them had any idea that it was the store owner.
He decided that he would ride close enough to make them feel threatened by his presence. The driver decided to get on the expressway because she wanted to loose him and not lead him to her home. He followed her all the way and she decided to return to the store parking lot because that seemed to be the place where the problem began. It is also where they discovered who was following them.
The women were asking questions that deserved to be answered. Why was he following them? What had they done? Why hadn’t he called the police if he thought that they were doing something illegal? And what was he planning to do?
His response straight up pissed me off. “I have the right to follow anyone that I want. I can drive my car in any manner that I want to”. “That is all the reason that I need”.
His sister cringed when she heard this statement and she tried to get him to shut up. But he was on a roll and it was obvious that he felt righteously justified for his actions because it was his right as a man to act in an aggressive manner towards two women who he thought did something wrong, even though he never seemed to able to state what their illegal actions were.
Then he went on to admonish the women for trying to shake him by getting on the expressway. He felt that they were wrong because their children were in the car. They realized that they were being followed and they should have stopped to see why. This is where I started feeling a surge of true anger because it defies logical sense to stop a car and get out to confront a complete stranger. And since he has no true legal authority to make anyone stop his logic sounded like the ramblings of a confused individual.
His wife was present when this confrontation was going down. She listened for a bit and then she asked why he was following them. He never gave any details about what he thought the women were doing, he just reasserted his right to follow them and make them aware of his presence by driving right up on the rear bumper. He did not seem to grasp that his actions were totally incorrect. His manly rights were being exerted and that was totally justifiable in his mind.
One of the sistas raised a point that I believe held a whole lot of truth in it. If they had been two dudes, he never would have tried that shit, because it is a good chance that they would have stopped the car and confronted him. This statement only fueled his anger to a new height. He started yelling even louder and repeating his admonishments about their attempt to get away from him.
The women wanted to contact the police department. They felt that the owner had overstepped his boundaries and acted in an irresponsible manner. When the sista whipped out her cell phone to dial the number, the man went way left of center. The women headed towards the car with him right on their heels yelling at them. They got into their car and started to pull off.
It was pouring down rain and traffic was moving on the street. He yelled so loud that everyone who was moving along on the sidewalk stopped to look at him. I noticed that I was the only female out at that moment. The Black men who were outside had heard everything that had gone down between the owner and the women. I guess the confrontation started out in the parking lot before I entered the store. However, not one of those men made a move to intervene on behalf of the women. They mumbled curses, they disagreed with the idea that he had a right to stalk the sistas, but not one of them made a move to intervene.
Now, I am a realistic individual. I know that no one wants to step into the middle of a heated situation because anything could happen. But the store owner is a good sized individual. He was verbally threatening and he kept moving up on the women like he was going to become physically aggressive with them. The women warned him that if he did some stupid shit they would jump his ass collectively. But that occurred out of ear shot in the store. None of the men outside heard that statement. They all shook their heads while he kept moving towards the sistas.
I stood there with rain pouring down on my head, pissed and traumatized by the incident. One of the men walked up to me and asked why the owner thought he could do those women that way. I looked at him and said, “He’s good with that idea because none of the men who are present when shit goes down, stands up for us.”
I thought that by making that statement, I would feel some minor form of stress relief. It actually hurt like hell to hear those words come out of my mouth. I had no clue about how the man felt about hearing that statement. But to me, it was a declaration of the lack of worth simply because of our gender. We seem to not be worthy enough to have any form of intervention by the males in our community. Even when it is obvious that a male is being verbally abusive and threatening to do some form of harm to a female.
This really hit a nerve with me. I don’t believe that women have to be coddled like little girls. Or treated like we do not have the ability to handle situations that arise in life. But I also know from experience and witnessing how our community once functioned, that there was no way in hell this would have happened back in the day without some form of male intervention on the behalf of the sistas. The fact that nothing beyond mumbling curses occurred really felt like a slap in my face and I wasn’t the one involved in the incident.
It is a good day to remain behind closed doors. The air outside is crisp and the early swooping of The Hawk is moving across the urban landscape. I decided that today was going to be one of rest and restoration mentally, spiritually and physically.
Right now it is all about having a perfect cup of coffee. Good music streaming from my laptop speakers, an opportunity to detox from living in America is in this moment and I intend to take full advantage of its presence.
For the past few weeks I have been engaged in a personal self-assessment because a new year in life begins for me this week. It is time to do that deep down personal check-up to see how I am truly feeling about the year that has passed behind me.
I find myself in awe of the reality that is going to be mind. I am going to be sixty years old. It is a true sense of joy in being able to state that as a reality. I have already seen some of my close sista/friends make their transitions. On days like this I feel the need to conjure their spirits up to hang with me in the universe. I want to remember how we use to spend days when Monday did not start out the grind of work to home for the next five days. A moment to whip up something good to eat for breakfast and the appreciation for having the time to sit down and enjoy a meal without the press of the gotta go clock.
This is a day when we would often enjoy the luxury of a long nap at some point of the day so our heads could clear out and our bodies benefit from getting some needed physical rest.
I want to hear the banter of our on the phone time conversing in my thoughts. The sound of girl you know after having a sista/conference on some form of madness going on in our lives. Or the sound of our laughter after a new inside joke is formed or an old one revisited.
When I sit down this afternoon with my crochet hook in hand and the afghan that I am creating reminds me that I am thankful that the women in my family taught me this particular production skill. I will bast in the memories of the days when I was in the company of my mothers and sistas before me learning how to unravel the mystery of how to crochet. I will fuse my spirit woman self into the work and enjoy the expansion that my hands created.
This is a part of my blackness that is a part of the treasures in life that I have acquired. That sense of love and laughter. That warmth that comes from taking the time to remember who you are and what is good about that reality.