Freedom to Agitate

Happy Birthday U.S.A. and blessings and honor to the Black ancestors who birthed you.

As our nation’s birthday arrives I am forced to focus on it’s development overtime, and it’s history of colonization and appropriation. I am angered by the irony of celebrating freedom in a nation where freedom is elusive. This isn’t speculation. This is just facts.

It’s 2017 and I feel we are no closer to the true freedom marginalized groups seek. Plantation slavery has morphed into the financial slavery of school loans; the prison system; and the world of media and sports entertainment. Major corporations have taken the place of plantation owners, but the one thing thing that remains constant is the people at the top. The group is small, male, and white.

Julia, what about Beyonce and Jay Z, or Oprah? My response, what about them? They have accomplished a lot, amassed a lot, and given back a lot. But please do not be fooled. When the men at the top wake up and say “no more”, then they too can fall victim to bad press and negative headlines. Just ask Dave Chapelle, Martin Lawrence, and dare I say Bill Cosby?

I’m wondering, tomorrow as fireworks blast off across the nation, how many folks will be proud to be an American? Even at my worst, I could find something to cling to as a citizen of this country. But at the moment, I am very very stuck. So much is happening around us, and yes it always has been…but this feels different to me. What about you? Do you feel like you can’t breathe sometimes when you read or watch the news. Another Black man shot; another presidential tweet; another war threat… and now, he wants our personal identification information. Why? A registry? Further policing?

I live in fear, but it fuels me. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and ignore the world, but most days I want to fight. So, tomorrow I am celebrating the freedom to fight and agitate. I fight for true liberation of minds, hearts, and bodies. One day at a time.

Happy Birthday U.S.A. and blessings and honor to the Black ancestors who birthed you.

Julia

 

And how are the children?

If we want to ensure that all of our children are fed, we have have to feed them ourselves.

We have to teach our children that this is not the first time and it will not be the last that their livelihood will feel threatened.

And how are the children?

If there is one thing we as people care about it is our babies.

Black, brown, orange or otherwise. . .

The children . . . our children, are our future.

We protect them.

We provide for them.

We ensure that all is well in the universe, for them.

 

Troublesome to think that the tribulations the black and brown community has gone through, continues to go through, may gradually escalate under new policy and executive order.

So, a question arises.

How do we feed the children under this new administration?

When I think about feeding the children – i’m actively thinking both literally and figuratively.

How do we aggressively address how we will educate black and brown children during the Trump Era?

How do we ensure that their bellies are full; their minds are overflowing with knowledge and their hearts have swelled with pride and preservation of their identities, culture and and inherent innocence?

How do we ensure preservation of their bodies when everything surrounding them details otherwise?

When black spirit is being attacked from every angle . . . how do we ensure longevity and perseverance?

How do we ensure that we will have enough resources (as a community) to fill their bellies with nutritious meals on a daily basis? . . . when we are struggling to do that today.

How do we ensure safety and security, among violence and ill manner and intent?

 

Do we tell our children the truth. . .?

Do we explain to them that this is nothing new? That we haven’t been free since we crossed the Atlantic.

Do we remind them that #blacklivesmatter was a trend before Trump was elected to the highest office of the land?

Do we teach them about mass incarceration and relate it back to all of the black men and women who are missing from our communities because they are behind bars? That Malcolm X said, “if you’re black, you were born in jail,” more than 50 years ago.

Do we ask them about their schooling? Then teach them about lack of funding, resources and redlining?

Do we teach them that they are black and they are beautiful – and simply because they are both black and beautiful- they will be under attack every single day?

 

The answer is yes.

 

Yes to everything.

 

We have to be aggressive in educating our children. Now, more than ever.

If we want to ensure that all of our children are fed, we have have to feed them ourselves.

We have to teach our children that this is not the first time and it will not be the last that their livelihood will feel threatened.

We have to explain to our babies that we’ve been fighting the same fight all along.

Maybe we don’t have to fight behind closed doors anymore.  And, maybe we’ve garnered enough people to fight the good fight.

Then again, maybe we haven’t.

Because it was the people who elected the current administration.

 

Moving forward, those that want to fight the good fight must understand – there can only be one fight.

It is intersectional.

It is intentional.

It is big.

And, it is so complicated.

It always is and it always will be.

Our experiences are vast and our ideologies are diverse.

Though, at the core, the question remains. . .

 

How are the children?

 

This is a call to action.

Join us.

Support us.

 

We will have more, soon.

This is a promise.

So. Much. More.

 

For now, parlae on.

 

-Shamira

 

Resolved

I resolve to work hard at standing up for what is right.

I resolve to fight against injustice.

I resolve to engage in discourse around inequity daily.

I resolve to deliberately provoke and challenge stagnant thinking.

I resolve to always welcome anyone who would challenge my thinking for the better.

I admit I have been quiet lately. The events since the election have been a lot to process. I go back and forth from feeling extremely violent, to extremely melancholy, and always ending with utter disbelief. Then, because I have a conscious, contrary to popular “white” belief, and those who feel that my perspective is too narrow or unrealistic, I beat myself up…

 

Because maybe I am too hard on Trump and White America… (she says cautiously).

 

Maybe I should listen to Barack and have some sympathy/understanding  for those in power; those with privilege; who are struggling to accept the changes in social and economic structures that have come to pass under Obama’s administration. I mean, their way of life has been literally under threat for the last 8 years….(she says as she rolls her eyes).

 

The real reason I have been quiet is because I literally have had nothing nice to say…and while that usually hasn’t stopped me, I really needed to get myself in check so that I could write coherently and intelligently. Otherwise, this post would just have be a page full of expletives.

 

Today is MLK day, and at the end of the week Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. If it wasn’t so absurd, I would be rolling around laughing in my bed right now. This is our reality. I am no longer in shock. I have accepted our nation’s fate, and have decided to move on with my new year’s resolutions.

 

I resolve to work hard at standing up for what is right.

I resolve to fight against injustice.

I resolve to engage in discourse around inequity daily.

I resolve to deliberately provoke and challenge stagnant thinking.

I resolve to always welcome anyone who would challenge my thinking for the better.

 

Trump’s America is a America I plan to challenge daily. Today, I rededicate myself to the mission and vision of Parlae, and I want to personally thank all of the folks who have supported us in our first year. We have a lot of plans for this upcoming year, and we are very excited. We have a dream, and we honor our forefathers and mothers today. Without them, there is no platform. Without them, there is no us…

 

PS…

 

I am not for all of the MLK posts on social media from all of my followers and the people I follow who never say anything about social justice on any other day….

 

Let’s be real. I am about this life 365, and yes I wasn’t always, but I am WOKE now. It irks me when I see posts about social justice just because it’s trending. Do me a favor and don’t bother. Consciousness is not a trend. Heads up…Black History Month is coming….please don’t get on my nerves…

 

There is a campaign to turn off all tv’s during the inauguration Friday. I have also heard many people of color say they plan to ignore the event altogether. My response to this: NOOOOOO!!!! What this man has to say on Friday is important. Why? Because we need to know what we are up against. You don’t want to watch on tv? Fine…then live stream that shit. Read the transcript. Make sure you read it to your children, your students, share it with your family. Spread the word!!! There is nothing more deadly than an unseen enemy. Knowledge is power.
Julia

The Plight of the Safe Black Man

The plight of the safe black man.

Sitting in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ lecture “A Deeper Black: Race in America,” at Temple University,  I was frustrated.

A black man had a platform to talk about being a black man in America, in 2016. Most importantly – a black man had the platform to talk about being a black man in America, in 2016, to a room full of non-black men.

After the very public murders of . . .

Alton Sterling,

Philado Castille,

Keith Lamont Scott,

Terence Crutcher,

a black man had a platform to talk about being a black man in America, in 2016, to a room full of non-black men.

Given that platform, I wanted Coates to get up on stage and be the angry black man. I wanted him to make the audience feel what we as black and brown people feel on a daily basis.

At one point Coates said, “When people say we’re entering a new era of domestic terrorism it’s because they’ve never been black.”

I heard that.

I felt that.

And, I wondered who else heard and felt the same.

All too often black men (boys, girls and women as well) are criminalized.

Criminalized at work, in school, in the neighborhood and on the news.

It takes a special kind of black man to be welcomed into a fairly non-black space (Academia) to talk about blackness.

Just to be clear – it’s not that black people aren’t academic – but, black people, as we know, haven’t always had the opportunity to engage in academia. Even still the five faces of oppression (violence exploitation, marginalization,  powerlessness and cultural imperialism) and continual systemic debilitation of black people continue to keep us out of Academia. Thus, the academic world, in large part, is still fairly white.

What kind of black man does it take to be welcomed into the living room of white men and women?

The answer is simple: a non threatening one.

One that code switches appropriately.

What does that mean?

One that is black (skinned) but not too black.

Remember how many times Obama was called a monkey?

One that can address issues in an urgent but not irate tone.

Not doing so didn’t work out too well for Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or Fred Hampton.

So, I wonder how many times we (black/brown people) lose out on the opportunity to speak our truths based solely on audience.

If I had to assume – I’d think that those of us who’ve earned and been given a platform have to loosen/lessen/rid of some parts of our truths in order to be heard non-threateningly.

My concern is that if we continue to go that route we might not ever be actually heard.

Lastly. I’m ready for another round of the 10 point program.

Same points.

New generation.

-Shamira

Lest we forget

For a few days I could feel the fear and the sadness. The need for “revolution” was palpable. Solidarity in the movement could not be mistaken. And, allyship may have been as strong as ever.

 

But, I don’t feel that way today.

Today, there is a still quiet in the air. An undertone of buzz.

Yesterday, too.  

It is not silent – as there are protests, and vigils (and funerals), and town halls still taking place all over the country. But, it is contextually fairly quiet.

People are breathing a little easier.

Shoulders are are little less tense.

Conversations have shifted back to normal everydays.

And it makes me wonder. . . have we forgotten, already?

The hurt, pain, chaos, anger. The solidarity, unity, community.

The traditional news outlets sure have, so maybe we have to.

We’ve retreated back to our normal. Mind you, the one that has been forced on us for so many years. But, a normal nonetheless. Our normal. And, maybe, just maybe we’ve gotten too comfortable there.

Why are we comfortable? At the bottom. Because we’ve been given no place else to be?

Lest we forget, the bus boycott of Montgomery, Alabama lasted 381 days.  

Lest we forget, a huge chunk of sit-ins also lasted more than a year – and yielded some 70,000 participants and 3000 arrests.  

     Image result for bus boycott


Lest we forget, the Civil Rights Movement itself lasted an entire decade; from 1955-1965.

 

Image result for civil rights movementImage result for civil rights movement

 

I don’t have the answers. But, I’m hoping someone does. What is our next move? What’s the next play? What do we have to put into motion that will guarantee some 20 years from now, someone will be able to say, “Lest we forget. . .” about our time?

– Shamira

 

 

The Answer

Bobby Seale talked extensively about the power of the black vote, last weekend at the Black History and Culture Showcase

He said, “institutionalized racism, backed by law, is only undone by voting.”

Thinking about the idea that a man in a uniform can evoke harm until death on camera and face no punishment – I know that we are more than aware that institutionalized racism is rapid and rampant throughout these United States.

I was awed by the eloquence with which Seale spoke.

I was awed by his ability to recite, with enthusiasm and passion, poems and works from decades ago.

I was awed by the conviction in his voice.  

And, most importantly, I was inspired.  

It is often easiest to find ourselves overwhelmed by all of the wrongdoings that we hear/see/live daily – but, I couldn’t help but feel, last weekend, that Seale has had the answer all along.

The power of the vote.

Infiltrating the system by populating the offices of those that make the decisions that govern the country is the answer. And, it’s the method by which the BPP worked years ago. 

Definitely easier said than done; but, an answer, no less.

I find nothing radical about this notion; for, common sense should tell us that it is inherently right that a group of people should be governed by a group of his and her peers. And, even still, this is a notion that occupies, though in variation, many of the laws that govern the land.

So, it hurts my feelings when people that look like me say that they refuse to vote because none of the candidates are representative of them or their values.

And, it scares me senseless, worrying about the worst case scenario reining true and leading the country.

It feels like we’re starting from the ground. Fortunately, the idiom tells us that, the only way to go is up.

Perhaps it’s time to return to those foundations and principles that struck a chord with us so many years ago.  

If we can organize and educate, we can run for and win elections in order to make better lives for ourselves.

by: Shamira

*Check out Julia’s reaction to the Black History and Culture Showcase.