July 15, 2013

Category: Real Talk

Hope, Rage & Breath: Time To Trouble The Water


“It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty—far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste. Trayvon, you will not be forgotten. We will honor you—and the millions your memory represents—by building a movement that makes America what it must become.”Michelle Alexander

I’m disgusted by the verdict, the jury, Zimmerman’s stone face, Zimmerman’s mindset, and special prosecutor, Angela Corey’s odd smug response during her post-trial conference, just made me want to spit on her and that damn scrunchy!

I’m disgusted by the hundreds of cops just standing on-guard on 125th St, in union Sq., all around NYC, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sanford, Chicago, and other urban areas last night and today. There was even a menacing police helicopter flying above Harlem at 2am! As a matter of fact, I’m just disgusted by law enforcement and the entire penitentiary system in general! Where were they and their shiny badges the night Trayvon Martin was shot? Why weren’t they patrolling Sanford then? Earlier this year when I needed a police office to escort a derelict out of my building’s lobby, why did I walk over 10 blocks without seeing nary of “New York’s Finest?”  But last night, actually at 1 am this morning, as my fam and I walked over to the State Office Building in Harlem, there were about 235 officers standing in a long line forming a barrier all around and maybe only 35 protestors still milling around shouting, “No Justice No Peace.” Trying to reason with my disgust, I asked the beautiful sister who was on patrol how she felt about the Zimmerman decision and she said she couldn’t comment. I asked her with a big, metal, waist-high barrier in between us, if she felt like as a cop she was working against her own community. She said she did not. I then asked her if she felt that we perceived her as being against us as people of color. She said yes. She then shared that as a police officer that she could never participate in a public protest regardless of how she may personally feel to which I immediately responded, “I guess we’ll never be on the same side of this barrier, which is sad because it’s then not merely a perception of separation, it’s a real separation. We both ran out of words at that point.

And then beyond even the po-po, I have to contend with Nicole. To be totally honest, I’m quite disgusted with myself too.

On Saturday night I was about to head out to a concert when I heard the breaking news report on CNN.  Initially, the words “Not Guilty” didn’t even register. It wasn’t until the judge repeated the verdict that the tears fell hot down my cheeks. I was disgusted that I was so shocked by the verdict. By now I should’ve been numb. But I wasn’t. My ongoing naïveté, optimism, and hope with regard to the legislative and judiciary system disgust me. I can’t remember the last time the law worked out in a major way for someone that looked like me (Sorry OJ doesn’t count). I mean wasn’t it just two weeks ago that the Supreme Court stripped the Voting Rights Act limiting the power and access of people of color throughout the country. Never mind Rockefeller and “Stand Your Ground” laws that exist to keep us behind bars and socially disenfranchised when we are not imprisoned. But they got me again believing that justice would be served.

I know you’re tired and you’re pissed the fruck off (and if you aren’t then you shouldn’t even be on this site). So am I. I’m furious with rage, unease and disillusionment. I feel broken as if the jury reached into my body and with two words, crumpled up my heart, guts, spirit and lungs in the palms of the hands. I have to take deep breaths to not only keep from choking, but to also resuscitate my smothered spirit. I’m at the end of my rope, but I’m trying to use my rage constructively. I’m trying to breathe through my disgust and give hope– the little that’s left in me– some air and vigor.


For the last few weeks I’ve done a great deal of listening– to trial testimony, to the folks I follow on Twitter and Facebook, to news pundits, activists and also to my heart.  Now, mostly though, I’m talking, trying to walk the walk and make some noise. I’m ready to act upon the pulsing of my broken spirit and to, as my friend Imani Uzuri said at the rally in Harlem yesterday, “Trouble the waters.”

And it’s not over yet. I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason. So maybe it’s not supposed to end with last Saturday’s verdict. Now it’s an opportunity to demand that Eric Holder press federal charges against Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin. The NAACP has over 500K signatures on their online petition demanding these charges be filed, please add your name to the number. It’s possibly an opportunity for us to have the ALEC-backed “Stand Your Ground” laws overturned. And most certainly it’s an opportunity to express our rage and demand our gov’t and political and religious leaders and neighbors do more. To see what’s going on in Egypt now with their uprisings and record breaking protest movements is not a coincidence or non-related in my opinion. Trayvon may be the switch that we needed to ignite us. We may not get what we had hoped to achieve in the end, but the exercise in and of itself is healing. It’s also an awakening. A ripple in still waters.


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