Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some Truths

As salaam alaikum,

"The one thing we did right was the day we started to fight. Keep your eyes on that prize, hold on." - "Eyes on That Prize"

I don't usually get political. On this blog or anywhere else online, really. Definitely not Facebook. But one of my co-residents posted something about Ferguson, and how we should keep talking, and while I agree, more than just talking needs to be done.

More than just media showboating needs to be done.

I posted in the Facebook comment box that we have a militarized police force that has been in full force and growing since the 1980s institution of the War on Drugs. I told her to read The New Jim Crow, which I have to read in pieces because it makes me angry. I told her that post-civil rights is a fallacy. The Civil Rights movement didn't end, it died. It died with a lot of its key leaders who were assassinated, thanks in part to our own FBI. To this day, I don't understand how more people don't know about COINTELPRO. Even if there were only evidence linking the FBI to the death of one Black Panther (and I believe there is more evidence than that), isn't that bad enough?

The movement was posthumously declared over. There was still work to be done and Malcolm X had just found Islam and that shaped the way he saw the movement, Martin Luther King had more than just a dream, he was a man of ideas made tangible and wanted to move to overall social justice and poverty next. So many leaders and non-leaders, young people, killed, so many deaths without justice.

Post-civil rights movement is a fallacy and that's exactly how Michael Brown could be shot with his arms up, feet away from the police officer so many times into his poor body and left dead in a pool of his own blood on the streets of Ferguson for hours in the sun, like a dog.

Black life is not valued in this country, never has, and if we do nothing, never will. Some black people do not value black life. That's how my cousin was murdered and left for dead in a pool of his own blood while trying to go to work to provide for his young family. For a few dollar bills. And the killer has not been found. That's how another cousin killed in cold blood and will spend the rest of his life in prison. That's how Emmit Till and thousands of other black men had their bodies destroyed for sport. That's how Eric Garner was choked to death in public and that's how Michael Brown was shot and left for dead.

Left like a dog. Or worse than that, because someone would have handled the body of even a stray dog.

I could say so much more, but this is not the only issue out there right now. This summer was a hard Ramadan for many because of injustice and death so many places in the world, most notably in Gaza. I don't like to get political mainly because I don't have time, during my training, to be part of the grander solution. I don't have time to be well read and therefore the best spoken here, and I don't put my prose to its best use, which I do not believe is an online blog that few people read. I believe that is mobilizing people who have the tools and the drive to affect legislation.

My parents have also always feared my online presence, especially as a Muslimah, because long before we knew about NSA, my mother, as a former black nationalist, knew about the NSA. In the sense that she knew after 9/11 there were most certainly governmental bodies that had the power to tap into our lives as the NSA has. Call that some old NOI conspiracy theorizing, but it was true, and now folks acting shocked.

I could say so much more, but instead, I choose to end this entry with a series of truths. This goes beyond Ferguson. This goes beyond the other string of innocent black men that were killed before Michael Brown this year and were killed after. This is about Civil Rights.

1. The militarized police are here to stay and will continue to use excessive force unless meaningful and deep rooted legislative action happens to eradicate it, much of which is firmly based in the War on Drugs. Our legislative bodies have not been in a state to affect that type of change and won't be in the foreseeable future.

2. The 1960s were a horrendous decade, not only because so many people were killed, but because the government lied, step by step, over and over and over again.

3. The Civil Rights movement should not have been over when it was. There were many victories but the status quo is not a victory we can declare post-civil rights worthy by any stretch of the imagination.

4. As Affirmative Action programs have ended over the country over the last 10 years, the "playing field" is still far from "level," as long as predominantly black schools remain predominantly poor, meaning the majority of black kids get substandard education to inhibit college success.

5. SCOTUS knew exactly what they were doing in voting down the Voting Rights Act, and that "country has come so far" rhetoric was a cover. Poor blacks won't be counting marbles in a jar to get the vote but there will surely be other restrictive measures popping back up, and it won't be restricted to the South.

6. Speaking of the value of black life, some black people also do not value black life, this is true. The reality of white-on-white crime aside, black self-violence is apparent not only in crimes and murders committed but in our own music, our entertainment, our leisure. This must stop because, fair or not, there is a group of people who will not value our lives because they figure we also don't value our own. And we will continue to die in our own hands and in the hands of others, on the street, in pools of blood for hours, worse than dogs.

7. Regardless of the above, it is egregious to blame the victim, and every time a young black man is killed, the victim is blamed, it is justified based on circumstantial issues that really are not worth dying over. Like Trayvon and weed. Like Emmit Till and flirting with a white woman. The latter should sound as ridiculous as reasons to die as Michael Brown stealing candy and Eric Garner selling taxless cigarette singles, except even more so because it was carried out by law enforcement.

8. COINTELPRO is real and it's declassified. And just because its now declassified doesn't mean that our government wouldn't and hasn't had similar endeavors, so to speak.

9. We talk about how our healthcare system is broken, and it is, but moreso our penal system is broken, broken and costlier than the education of our children, which further feeds into the system. The disregarded black bodies that are not slaughtered spend some time in the penitentiary, if not the majority of their lives, most of them for petty drug offenses, spending time and tax payer money in a place that has no reformatory value and leave unable to make lives for themselves because of ex-con status.

10. Injustices such as these will continue to happen, in spite of peaceful protest and marching in Ferguson until our government takes thing seriously enough and do as they did during the movement and sign the needed changes into law.

I think 10 is a nice round number. There are probably others that I could include.

It's been more than a month since my grandfather passed, and I feel even more emboldened to try to take over where he left off before a stroke and an ICU stay in the 1970s changed him from the outspoken member of his local black nationalist organization to a quiet man whose memory of injustice often suffered in silence as he changed his focus to his growing family of grandchildren.

"The one thing we did wrong was stay in the wilderness a day too long."

Let's not let time pass after Ferguson, security set in, and we wander back to the wilderness.