4620W8T – #Pause: My Hood Is DOPE: #HighlighterPen #ItsRainingPens

Recently, I sat on the back patio of my home, enjoying the sunshine and watching the butterfly that kept landing on the banister. My male dog tossed and turned in a dirt pit he dug for himself and his toys while my female rested her head sleepily against my leg. It was a typically quiet and serene moment at a place I call (t)HugzMansion.

My house rests in an area that has its fair offering of boarded-up houses and vacant lots. From my backyard and because of a vacant lot, I can see straight through to the one-way street one block over. It’s a busy westbound street and I watched as traffic sped by on their way to important destinations. A collection of sounds christened the air that ranged from loud trunk music to kids playing and ultimately my personal favorite, stillness. There is no shortage of trees in the back and I took special notice to the fresh spring buds sitting on high limbs that reached for the sky’s approval. Several trees were covered in purple buds that looked like a high field of lavender from where I sat. It was (and is) quite beautiful.  As I sat, Cinematic Orchestra’s “Woman: Burnout” played us an evening soundtrack.  It was a solid warm, peaceful spring day full of the kind of sunshine that tickled the tips of the growing grass and kissed my melanin ever so gently.

I had no complaints.

According to a 2013 Fox59 report, the 46208 zip code is not only one of the most dangerous zips in Indianapolis; it is ranked as one of the most dangerous in the entire country. In this zip code, along with 46205, a person has a one in fourteen chance of becoming a victim of a homicide. While the report itself goes on to mention certain areas within these zips, or pockets, the zip code itself is used as a blanket statement for an entire area covered under those ten specific numbers. Butler-Tarkington, which is not mentioned in the 2013 article but makes up a huge portion of 46208, was featured in the news in October 2016 for making it one year without violence after a string of unsolved murders left families broken and police stumped. It’s also been listed as a high crime, dangerous areas. The MLK and Riverside areas have also been known to fall under the title of danger zones. Both areas have endured a long notoriety with locals as being oppressively unstable and full of crime. I am not writing this blog to deny the existence of the all too frequent violence. In fact, I can easily understand how one comes to label these areas as they do. Who can forget 10-year-old Deshaun Lee Swanson, who was shot and killed during a drive-by that injured several others? That happened around the corner from my mother’s house and next door to the parents of a lifelong sisterfriend. My stepfather was supposed to be in that house that day but decided to stay home. Trust me when I say I am awake, alert and aware of the violence and negativity that go on in these places.

But doesn’t the label of “most-dangerous” at least somewhat eradicate the presence of the love that I happen to know exists in these areas? Does no one else feel marked and thrown away under such a label, or is it just me and my feelings?

Consider this: the label of “most dangerous zip code in the country” (or even the city) doesn’t identify the isolated pockets where the violence is most prominent. One would have to read between the lines to get that. Instead, that lable engulfs and speaks for the entire covered area while conveniently forgetting that despite what you see from the outside looking in, there are still families here. There are still people with goals and dreams, folks who are mentoring the teens and kids that live in these very areas. There are small, grassroots collections of people trying to combat the violence AND all the other issues plaguing our communities (food, transportation, health, etc).

I grew up in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. I have lived all over Indianapolis but I returned to the area in 2007 and spent the last ten years in the 46208 neighborhood. I can say with certainty and experience that there is so much beautiful to be seen and experienced in the hood. Last year, I tried to apply for a job with the INRC, a community-based organization that targets urban areas with the intention of building neighborhood awareness, communication and dialogue, as well as empowering the community to teach, grow and sustain itself through their own initiatives and talents. They use what is referred to as the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) model to achieve this success. When using the ABCD model, you assess what are considered to be “weaknesses” and work on how to utilize them as strengths. In other words, there are no weaknesses. A person may not like to speak in public, but on the flip side, they are great listeners. That person could record information for someone. There are no vacant homes: those are potential artistic canvases OR rehabilitated meeting houses or safe places. Using the talents and gifts of the people within these areas, coupled with identifying ‘troubled’ areas (regarding buildings AND the people), and then learning how to turn those into assets is how you revitalize a community from the inside out…without gentrifying it.

But in order to respect that there is talent in these so-called urban, dangerous areas, there must be belief. There must be hope. Despite what is said about us, life still exists within our numbered boundaries.

Who knew??? Life exists in “the most dangerous zip codes” of Indianapolis!!!! 

Indystar isn’t really good about reporting that though. The media is great for being first on the scene to capture people screaming and hollering in grief and disbelief when a dead body is discovered. They are Johnny on the Spot when a drug bust happens, even if they don’t have much information. But when over three hundred people draw together, along with the police (by happenstance), on a corner where folks are scared to make a complete stop at the four-way, no one is there but our own cell cameras. Then when two thousand people gather together in an event that could rival all of the summer expos and food festivals, but this one being held in a neighborhood that falls under the national label of danger, the only stories that are written are the ones we write for ourselves. Remember that person that doesn’t like to speak in public but is a good listener? He/She would fit well here to help create stories that live long after we do. OUR STORIES MUST BE TOLD. I am now part of a neighborhood organization called The Learning Tree where doing just that is a top priority.

My point of all of this not a list of suggestions of what we could do….but rather an ode to what we are doing. There is great work going on in the areas that many people are afraid of based on what they’ve heard. I spoke about my neighborhood to a coworker the other day with pride, not embarrassment or shame. As I heard myself, I couldn’t help but notice the second nature of which I bragged on the incredible initiatives in my area. The block I recently moved to is a very busy block. The street cramped with cars on both sides and the people hang out late at night with loud conversations. There are vacant homes on both sides of the street. My grandfather used to own one of them. Matter a fact, it’s the biggest one of the block – the biggest house and the biggest vacant. When I walk out of my door, I am not inundated with the negative. I see duplexes with bikes on porches and older men who frequent their stoops on a regular. There is a daycare in operation right next door to me. I hear kids crying as they get dropped off in the morning and laughing outside as I pull up in the evening.

I’ve often told people when I moved to 34th and Clifton (The Cliff), I was nervous as shit. I feared that I was making a mistake that would cost me my safety and/or peace of mind. I couldn’t have been further from reality. In the three years I stayed there, while some weird things definitely came about like the police repeatedly visiting and looking for someone who didn’t live there, or a random man knocking at my door at like 3 AM (I didn’t answer), it was a wonderful experience overall. There was a neighborhood street clean up the first year I was there. The second year led me to meet Mr. William Ryder, the artist whose home was a museum of his own incredible sculptures. He also told me how his father used to dress him up as a girl when he lived in or near Lyles Station, IN, where county officials were kidnapping black children to do radiation experiments on them. From what Mr. Ryder told me, they preferred boys hence his parents dressing him as a girl. I wouldn’t have met him, toured his home or looked into his beautiful eyes and saw all the ancestry they held with artistic pride had I been living in the safety nets of some place like Normandy Farms (traders point).

There is a gas station nearby my house that I see police presence and arrests nearly every day. Just last week, I watched a cop sit behind the Double 8 building and watch the station activities from his car using binoculars. I admit, there is a lot that goes on there and I personally try not to use it too much but I can’t be too surprised. After all, this IS one of the most dangerous places in the entire country.

 People drive through here daily. I wonder if, when driving, anyone notices the precious gems that those of us who live here see? Such as the teddy bear memorial that I believe grows by the week from where two men lost their lives after a driver jumped the curb, striking and ultimately killing both men as they awaited the bus. It’s old news but the neighborhood hasn’t forgotten them. Do people only see what they believe are bums and addicts or do they notice the mothers walking down the street holding hands with their children too? Those are real people. Have they seen the garden preparation at the Flanner House that will provide freshly grown food to area residents in addition to offering gardening classes. Do people see all the kids that wait for the after-school food program that GRoe Inc. provides? Or is that too inner in the inner city? Kheprw has a great community food program for a low monthly cost. Neighborhood and community building is happening right before our eyes…and right above the labels.

Let the news tell it, the only saving grace in these areas is the 10-Point Coalition, spearheaded by a man whose affinity for profiling, stop and frisk and disparaging remarks about black youth keep him locked out from making any real impact on the people. Photo ops and a ‘walk thru’ or two with the Mayor are dope tho.

The link I provided in regards to the Butler-Tarkington area going a year without violence starts with a video of the news crew walking up 40th street with the 10 Point guys. The media seems impressed but those of us who live over here don’t see them until we turn on the tv or see the news crew outside. We are NOT impressed. Less reported are the grassroots efforts of the RESIDENTS. The people who live here when the camera crews pack up and go back to Noblesville and Carmel. Folks like these fathers who came together to not only work the streets of Butler Tarkington at night time in attempts to curb the violence, but they are attending community meetings and letting their voices (our voices) be heard. These are fathers and husbands who, through their own finances, offer children in the neighborhood options for the summer (football little league) and someone trusted to confide in.

A couple of weeks back, on the MLK side of 46208, I along with my partner, catered a “living room concert series”, where locals gathered together in a neighborhood living room for a concert-style dinner, entertainment and conversation. This event included area neighbors as well as people from the community that have the pull, the pockets and the DESIRE to invest in our areas. No animals were harmed and no gunshots rang out in the process. Lives were not lost; in fact, they were inspired and uplifted. The living room concert featured a live band and singer with me serving as the host and poet. A bit of community dialogue followed the music where questions were asked and input from those of us who live here was shared.

All of this in one of the most dangerous zip codes of Indianapolis and the entire country.

THE POINT:

Meet Indy’s New Fountain Square

There is no question that violence, drugs, and police runs in these communities are frequent occurences. I am by no means attempting to dismiss the importance of curbing the statistics over here. But there are great things happening in the 46208 areas and it’s not coming by way of gentrification. It’s coming at the hands of the community residents that either stay here or travel over here to help rebuild the people. That’s the difference between gentrification and community rebuilding: In the gentrifying model, homes and land are bought and remodeled to look pretty. The rustic browns and tans of hood life are replaced with friendly hues from the pastel color wheel. Pink, blue and yellow siding line up the newly constructed homes or the ‘rehabbed’ places as the old neighbors are pushed out and new ones are brought in. Coffee shops pop up and white people start jogging with babies and strollers and the next thing you know, what was once a predominantly black area is now the new hipster area. *See Fall Creek Boulevard. Fountain Square didn’t become the revitalized artistic gem that it is now without pushing a shitload of people out and rewriting the story without them in it.

“30’000 feet up and you are not invited” ~Kanye West

But in the community building model, we fix the PEOPLE first and then assess what needs to be done regarding the homes, buildings, and land. The people are not pushed out; they are empowered. You can’t empower a building but you can its people. And that is happening all over urban areas with little to no coverage from local news outlets or stations. If it wasn’t for these blogs and articles that we write, we would only believe that these dangerous zip codes are places where you only drive through if necessary and you never move to on purpose.

I moved here on purpose, even with a fistful of fear I had collected by what I had heard. That fear was quickly eradicated and with the help of people like Earl & Ro Townsend, who started the GRoe Inc organization, it became easier to see how to be an asset instead of a complainer. I didn’t get the job at INRC but I’ve learned and am still learning how to apply the ABCD model to my community. Right now, if you look at my big yellow house, you may notice one of the blinds is a jumbled up mess. It is ridiculously ugly.

It’s been torn, shredded and manipulated to fit dog needs. I honestly don’t know what they did to get the blinds like they have but we have failed to replace them as of yet and it’s been a month or so.

You can see straight through on the bottom portion. I must say, it’s time to replace them. If a person was to judge my home based on my blinds, they would expect to walk into a dust-filled, grease motel with floors full of stuff you don’t want to step or stand on, the stench of dog piss and two couches that don’t match in one room. That’s far from the case. It’s typically clean in here although there are times when we get lazy. There is no shortage of furniture but it still has a very minimalist vibe as there are no televisions downstairs and nothing but the dinner table in the dining room. If you started from the inside first, you wouldn’t expect to see those blinds. In a sense, I guess I own the most dangerous blinds in the local area…and maybe even the United States.

Much like my blinds, the inner city has a stigma attached to it that comes with lowered expectations and stereotypical assumptions. Many people will stop at the stigma and never venture inward to learn otherwise. But if you dare step inside for a bit, you won’t last five minutes without learning that love lives here; daily. You will meet artists of varying mediums – string players, harpists, singers, and musicians. Painters and sketch artists, writers and photographers. There are places to learn how to garden, do yoga and work on clean eating. Yes, we live in a food desert with no standing bank. Yes, there is violence around us and an overwhelming police presence despite our lack of trust in them. But there is always laughter on our blocks. There are smiles and children with their bikes turned upside while they spin the tires with their hands. There are lavender buds on the tree limbs out back and the sun still kisses our flowers with precision. We have as much silence as a Carmel, Indiana subdivision and in the morning, the chirping birds don’t hesitate to sing to us. We are business owners. Working people. Retirees and school kids. Parents and elderly people with stories in their pockets. We are a community of people. We are more than a zip code and it’s label.

When I see or hear stuff like ‘I wish black folks would come together’, I can’t help but shake my head in immediate irritation (while wondering where the people who are quick to say this actually live). Clearly, they took the media bait and they believe there is little over here beyond the violence and heartbreak.

In reality, there is a great deal of good that goes on and I guess this is one of those instances where you just have to live it to know it. Or at least be a frequent visitor. The outside looking in often leads to a front row seat to ignorance.

From my front row seat, I get to see butterflies land right in front of me. That same butterfly landed on me before flying off again. #BeFearless

Nestled under the cold blanket of a harsh label, there are human beings trying to do and striving for the best…for themselves AND for their community.

Welcome to one of the most dangerous zip codes in America.

~j

 

Baa Baa Black Sheep: Have You Any Issues

Simply put: I am thoroughly DISGUSTED at the response to #KorrynGaines life being snuffed out by SWAT fire. But before I go any further on what I think, let’s start here at a post I saw on FB:

The FB question: “Black men only – what do you love about black women?Once they submit there are

Answer: Once they submit there are they bomb”

~Commenter

*****************************************************************************

Her name was Tarika Wilson and she was a 26-year-old mother of a one-year-old son, as well as five other children.tarika-wilson Her boyfriend was a suspected drug dealer who the SWAT team was looking for in January 2008 when they busted into Tarika’s home and shot both her and her child due to an obstructed view. She was huddled in a room with her six kids. Her boyfriend was later caught and plead guilty to drug trafficking. Her son survived being shot by Sgt. Joseph Chavalia but had to have a finger amputated.

Tarika died from her injuries in front of her six children. Officer Chavalia was acquitted of any criminal activity and remains a police officer (although not on patrol). The city of Columbus, OH settled with Tarika’s family for $2.5 million dollars. That’s about ten percent of what the civil courts awarded Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s families after their deaths (see: Dear Nicole: A Perspective on Race & Guilt ).

Aiyanna Jones –aiyanna The recognizable name of the seven-year-old little girl whose life ended because she was asleep on a couch when SWAT barreled into her grandmother’s house trying to serve a warrant and film a television show. Who were they looking for? Her father, who was suspected of providing a gun to Chauncey Owens; the man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Je’rean Nobles because he didn’t like how Nobles looked at him. Owens has since been convicted and sentenced to life for the murder while Jones was sentenced to 40-60 years for his role. Aiyanna was shot in the head after police threw a grenade in the house and began shooting with an obstructed view.

alesia35-year-old mother of two, Alesia Thomas was shown on video handcuffed and with her feet in restraints, unable to protect herself as Officer Mary O’Callaghan repeatedly punched and kicked her in the throat and crotch area in the back of the police car. “I”m going to punt you in your pussy” ~Officer O’Callaghan. She complained that she couldn’t move but her complaints were greeted with more punches and mishandling. She eventually fell unconscious and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The coroner ruled her death undetermined. Officer O’Callaghan was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to 36 months in jail. She won’t serve the entire sentence. That much we already know.

Earledreka White is a 28-year-old black clinician who was pulled over in Houston, TX.  earledrekaWhite claims that despite remaining calm, the responding officer escalated the situation by yelling and threatening to tase her. This resulted in White calling 911 to request the presence of other officers. The entire conversation is on tape as is the confrontation between White and Officer Gentian Luca who seemingly grew impatient and began to roughly grab White in an effort to restrain her (*while she was on the phone with 911*). A tussle ensued with White yelling and screaming for the officer to stop and calm down. She can be heard on tape screaming that she is a woman and this force is unnecessary but it doesn’t end until she’s handcuffed, arrested and charged with resisting. She spent two days in jail.

Joyce Quaweay, joyce-quaweay-facebook24 years old, was handcuffed, stripped of all of her clothing and beaten to death by her 39-year-old boyfriend while his homeboy helped to restrain and hold her for the beating. Her two children, both girls, were watching. Both of these men served as police officers at Temple University, although the boyfriend had been previously fired. I can’t even bring myself to type his name as I think of this woman’s final hours. She was stripped of her dignity and treated like a wild animal until succumbing to death from internal injuries. I can’t imagine. Or, maybe I can and that’s part of the problem. My ex tried to snatch the blanket off of me one time when I was at home chilling in my undies. He came in with his friend, drunk and high and of course an argument ensued. He tried to expose me in front of his friend and I lost it. We began fighting and I ended up with him on top of me, choking me. His friend stood there and watched. So yeah, maybe I can imagine it too much.

And now…The complicated story of Korryn Gaines, who was shot in the head and killed by SWAT who came to her apartment with a warrant on a misdemeanor charge. The police have admitted to firing the first shots and claim that Gaines had a shotgun pointed at them. They also claim she returned fire and that it’s possible she shot her son in the arm. I guess his five-year-old arm wouldn’t have been blown off by a close-range shotgun. **The police have come forward and admitted that it was their bullets that shot Korryn’s son in the CHEEK; not the arm. I take grand issue with the police kicking in the door and blindly shooting while there are children present. And since when did the police become the overseers of truth? Can we take their word now? I’m reading from BLACK PEOPLE how ‘well the police said…’

Wait…what??!!! Oh, so you believe the cops now? Just three weeks ago we all called the media and the police liars but now all of a sudden, we can believe the word of a police force that serves misdemeanor warrants with SWAT teams?  Because Korryn Gaines wasn’t a docile creature lacking personal protection from the same people we so freely refer to as’ gangs with badges’, that means the police and news outlets are now credible? You can hear the cops on tape during the traffic stop with Ms. Gaines saying they needed to take her phone and delete the footage. But ok. Whatever they say goes, in this case, huh? Serious question for black people: Do black lives only matter when they are playing house niggas despite the fact that lying next to ‘Master’ and eating the cleaned KYs never stopped a slave from being lynched? What are the perimeters that will allow for a black life to truly MATTER? All over social media you can find hundreds of turncoat ass black, woke folks running around looking like white supremacy in blackface and sounding like kissing cousins of klansmen.

That bitch brought it on herself.”

“She had a gun pointed at the police”

“I’ll be a bitch ass black man, but I’m not supporting her stupid ass mistake”

“She’s clearly just plain dumb. I mean, she think she’s a lawyer & going to put a Jedi mind trick on the cop. Take a Uber. Heck, hire an attorney if you think you’re being harassed.

If she had some undiagnosed mental disorder…I don’t want to sound harsh but she reminded me of Damon Wayans prison philosopher from Living Color. She’s a bit touched.”

***Commentary like this makes me wish I could email vomit directly to people. #BaaBaaBlackSheep

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is described as the following (according to the National Institute of Mental Health):

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-seconds changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

Some of the key phrases that I picked out from that definition were: “experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event”, “fight or flight response”, “meant to protect”, “stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.”

What type of things would cause these sorts of reactions? War. Domestic Violence. Car accidents. Child and Sexual Abuse. There are a plethora of other reasons, but here’s one for the unwritten books: Living While Being Black. It is not a secret that black people experience PTSD as a result of our American experiences directly and indirectly. Below you will see the Google results for a “PTSD Black People” search:ptsdUntitledkjk

This is not a foreign or a new concept.

Being a black person in America is a long-standing, heavily researched, known cause of depression, anxiety, extreme anger and fear to name a few. Looking at repeated videos of black people being gunned down and murdered by the police, regardless of whether or not you actually watch them, is traumatic. But it doesn’t stop there.

But it doesn’t stop there -Racism’s Psychological Toll

But it doesn’t stop there – Trying to Drive & Breathe While Black

But it doesn’t stop there – PTSD in African-American Women

We’re talking about a system designed to withhold a race of people as a whole. A system that doesn’t provide us justice, that kills us and puts us on a trial for our own murders and a country full of closeted and outright racists, bigots and prejudiced people that we must contend with day in and day out. We work with these people and in some cases, live near them. Racism isn’t something we can outrun. It sits right in front of our faces and thanks to the rise of technology and social media, we are able to experience racism first hand without ever leaving our houses. I recently told my sister, it must be nice to not NEED to know what an entirely different group of people have going on. White people have that privilege. Too often I have heard or seen white people who don’t know who Trayvon Martin is or what took place in Ferguson or the true history of slavery, civil rights and why we ever hashtagged #BLM. But again, they don’t have to know. None of that information will make or break their lineage. The names we are all too familiar with like Rekia Boyd, Amadou Diallo, and Oscar Grant are as foreign to many white people as African Dialect. Black people are not the threat to them that many believe we are, therefore, nothing we are doing or have going on is something they NEED to know about. Black people, on the other hand, need to know everything. We have to watch everyone: our own people, white people, and other races of people. We have to know what the left hand, right hand, middle man, sound and tech crew, and security are all doing. We don’t have an opportunity to let our guards down because history has continued to confirm at any moment our lives could change forever or end because of the hands of ANYONE else. Tell me again how this isn’t traumatizing?

See, it’s not so black and white to say ‘that bitch was tripping.’ The question becomes WHY was THIS WOMAN tripping (was she really tripping tho???) and what made her that way? It’s the same concept behind calling a woman a ho. How she became a ho is NEVER the question. Folks fall in formation to call her out of her name, reduce her to trash and consider her disposable black trash. Same goes with Korryn Gaines. Let’s completely ignore what might make a Black woman have that type of reaction to the police. One commenter on FB accused her of ‘wanting to be a lawyer.’ Is this because she asked the cop for proof of Delegation of Authority? Do you know what that is? Did you hear of it before today? Do you care?  Was she too smart for you? Not submissive enough for the good, wholesome Mr. White Cop that approached her for being in the wrong? She had her kids in the car so she should know better right? IF it happened to you, you would have complied and behaved well right? And lived to tell about it…or do you even know that much? The things I’ve read from other black people are contradictory to the sentiments I’ve seen some of the same people express over this last five years. It’s interesting. Alton Sterling had a rap sheet that included statutory rape. Freddie Gray was on the backside of the law. Still, neither of these men deserved to die and black women all over the country immediately began to rally in their honor. I just wonder why our own people are so quick to condemn this woman because she broke the mold and decided to stop playing by the rules. Where is the loyalty? Why are folks giving her the ‘crazy, angry black woman’ treatment when reality has shown us that black women are in just as much danger as our here as black men?!! Reread those names at the top. That’s not all; that’s just the people I chose to include. How the eff wouldn’t I be traumatized by this madness in some way? Many people are dismissing the concept but I think PTSD played a huge role in Korryn Gaine’s death. I read several comments that said:

“She got what she wanted. She’s a hashtag now.”

I don’t think that’s what she wanted and I think we as a people are smart enough to know better than that. I think that’s what she was willing to risk becoming and many don’t understand that because most folks ain’t willing to risk anything more for the cause than space on their SD card. But I get the backlash from women. We are nurturers and protectors by nature. Our first thought is always the kids. Many women can’t get beyond her behavior while the kids were with her and I understand it. In both of these situations (the initial traffic stop & SWAT) her children present. If it were me (I would like to stress that this did not happen to me…it’s always easier to know what you would do when it’s not happening to you), with my children present, I probably would have behaved differently. I wouldn’t have made it harder than it already was but I know from experience that I would be defensive and ready for whatever. But that’s ME speaking solely from a what-if perspective and I also don’t think I suffer from PTSD…or at least not as bad as Korryn Gaines. It has also been reported that she tested positive for high lead levels in the ’90s, and filed a lawsuit in 2012 in regards to suffering from lead poisoning. Lead is that same stuff that can be found in the water in Flint, MI; the same city where trash pickup has suddenly been suspended but I digress. Until this case, I thought many other black people EXPECTED the types of reactions that are taking place regarding interactions between the police and black people. I’ve repeatedly read comments from folks who were expecting people to start snapping. Now when they do, we trash them and dehumanize them while conveniently forgetting our predictions and what got us here.

The reality is this… George Zimmerman walks into a diner and compliments someone on a tattoo before announcing “My name is George Zimmerman, you know, that guy that killed Trayvon Martin.” This man has drawn pictures depicting his murder of 17-year-old Martin to be sold as art. He’s also auctioned off the gun used in the killing and he continuously makes the news for bragging about taking Trayvon’s life. It’s like listening to the men who killed Emmitt Till get acquitted and do a magazine interview all over again.

White people can kill black folks and get away with it and even when they are sentenced, it does nothing to affect their soul! #Trauma

I’m tired of black people being served the death penalty for any and all crimes while white people get treated to Burger King Whoppers after killing a room full of black church-goers. #Trauma White people can always be apprehended alive to face their charges no matter what their wrongdoings are or level of artillery. What was that shit that popped off in Oregon and how is it that no one died? The argument of whether or not Korryn made the right decisions is null and void considering she is not alive to tell her side of the story. Black people are tried and sentenced to death from the comfort of the police cruiser. If this shit isn’t creating distress for anyone aside from Korryn and myself, then I guess I’m next to go postal. And if so, it’s safe to assume that some of the same people that who swear to love and care for me would be quick to turn against me and be a stool pigeon for a supremacist-style way of thinking.

I’m sick of it!!! I’m sick of black women being the ever running joke. Just yesterday I had a childish run-in with two black men who thought it was HILARIOUS to blow at my truck until I pulled over thinking something was wrong. Nothing was wrong. When I gave them the attention they begged for they lied and said my tire was flat, and could barely keep a straight face before admitting they were “just kidding”…and then drove away.

O.o Are you kidding me? My time, my life and anything I’m doing or have going on had no weight on the importance of them playing a joke with a complete stranger. They were passionate about getting my attention for their childish amusement but would they exhibit the same passion if I needed them to fight for me…a stranger?? The next time some man is blowing at me to get my attention, what do you think I will do? Stop? Nope. And the next person might really be trying to tell me I have a flat tire. This is what I call my personal reaction to circumstances. It may be a different reaction for someone else and to some, it might be a bit extreme. But for me and my experiences, this is what it is. I’m suddenly feeling a need to correlate Korryn Gaines to this…but you should be able to see where I’m going with it already.

Black women are fighting on every possible front. We are standing off with the police with force and with love (see: Diamonds & Pearls: Black Women on the Front of the Line ). We are fed up and it’s showing in our actions. Remember: it was a black woman who bypassed security, climbed the pole and removed the confederate flag. 29-bree-newsome.w710.h473.2x breeWe are not fucking playing anymore. The docile Stepford wife shit doesn’t work in the real world. I’m tired of writing different versions of THIS same damn blog! I’m tired of how [some] black men look at us like nothing more than sex engines for their porn fantasies but won’t kill a fly in our honor and will even talk shit about us in death. It sucks not to have their full support but here’s what: if you are not down to have our backs in all ways, the same as we have yours, fuck off. It’s a shame that some men are so busy heauxtepping with their dicks in hand that they forget to use their balls for something other than fertilizing. I’m pissed so if this sounds harsh to you, STEP YOUR FUCKING GAME UP!  #ByeJody

Black women are out here MANNING up. We shouldn’t have to and guess what: WE DON’T WANT TO!!!! But we will. We are the running back and the quarterback. We are guarding the ball, holding the ball, running the ball and making our own field goals and touchdowns with less and less assistance. We have to hold down our homes, raise our kids AND be our own fucking protection. No one marches when black women are killed and when they do, only a few show up. When was the last time you heard Tarika Wilson’s name? Ever? We just get a hashtag and then the world moves on. A sisterfriend recently pointed out the lack of concern for black mothers who have lost their children in this war on our lives. It’s as if they are the forgotten names buried in the growing blizzard that is America. Malia Obama is being criticized for acting like a teenager and dancing at a Lollapalooza party. I’ve seen grown ass men make disparaging comments about her and I’m wondering how many would be willing to admit that if they were AT that party, they would have tried to hit on her and her age wouldn’t have been a factor. #YeahISaidIt

If she were walking down the street, how many of the men that have suggested POTUS run out and buy a box of condoms would be willing to admit they would slide down on her and offer her a ride to wherever she let them take her?

*Sips Water *

Part of the problem is from the moment we get rosebuds on our chest, we become objects of male affection. That affection is not synonymous with mental or physical protection. ALL OF THIS SHIT IS TRAUMATIC. Korryn did not start that night off alone with her kids. Her 39-year-old boyfriend was there but when SWAT arrived, he fled the apartment. So let me see if I understand this; he left her alone with her son while SWAT was knocking on the door? Seriously? And some random *guy out in the land of Facebook has the nerve to say that black women are the bomb when we submit? MFFW? Submit to shit like this? That’s when we’re “the bomb?” When we say “Babe, the police at the door, go out the window and take the baby; I’m gonna grab the gun and hold down the fort?” Is that when we are the bomb? That’s some ass backward, woman on the outside of the curb type of thinking. Am I to believe that Korryn’s BOYfriend didn’t know her attitude towards law enforcement and what happened with the last traffic stop? Was she not worth him risking going to jail for whatever crimes he may be involved in just to make sure Korryn and the children were ok?

He left her.

I say it again. . .

HE LEFT HER.

With the kids. With the shotgun. With SWAT. With her history.

And folks are online calling HER out of her name and talking about her mental stability??!!! What if he surrendered to the police (seeing as though the story keeps evolving)…was there nothing he could have said to them in regards to her stance in general? Were the police informed and still did nothing to de-escalate? Let’s revisit the list at the top. Tarika Wilson was killed by the police who were searching for her man. Aiyanna Jones was killed by SWAT who was looking for her father, who has since been convicted of providing the gun that killed a 17-year-old innocent black teenager. Joyce Quaway was tied up and beaten to death by her man AND his friend. The common denominator here is a lack of protection from our men. It’s disappointing, disheartening and heartbreaking.

Lack of protection is killing us but folks want to get on Facebook and find blame in other places. Black men, I love you dearly. I think the world of you but let me get transparent: Some of you are failing black women!!! Yes. I said it. Some of ya’ll are failing us.

And in that failure lies the last breath of another black woman.

“Fuck that bitch, I’m not marching or supporting that shit”

~Facebook Comment

malcolm
Revolution for Sale!

#KorrynGaines shrunk the balls of niggas all over the country at once. Not only was this woman beautiful and intelligent, but she was shotgun savvy and unafraid to defend/protect herself in the manner she deemed necessary. It’s what white people have been doing since the beginning of time. It’s what Malcolm X’s shotgun picture meant to so many folks who plastered it on their bedroom walls and bought shirts, journals, and stationery if they could find it bearing that photo. Is “by any means necessary” only applicable to black men? Was the faux character Foxy Brown only as incredible as her nude shots; not when she was pulling razors from her hair and shotguns from her side?foxy

I wrote this post August 1, 2015. Sandra Bland was still fresh on the radar and fear was trolling its way through black women everywhere.

“One of the things that sickens me is that the police approach black people like they don’t know the tension in americugh. …like they’ve never heard of Sandra Bland… Samuel DuBose.

…or any of the many names of women and men added to the growing list daily because they were unarmed and killed by the police….they approach you as if how dare you automatically feel tense?

how dare you have an attitude,

or a voice

Who are you to ask questions…

They still expect you to ……behave.

and when you don’t, shit happens.

They tried.

and I guess I should be scared…

but I’m not.

And if anything should ever happen to me in police custody, I DID NOT KILL MYSELF OR HARM MYSELF.”

 *****************************************************************************

EpiBlogue: Last year the police were at my house looking for someone who didn’t live there. This was the third or fourth time they came and each time they came, they were dressed in SWAT gear. There were at least three each visit and the first time they tried to come in and search my house, warning me that I needed to put my dogs up. I declined their offer to walk through my house and informed them that I didn’t know the person they were looking for. On the last visit, there were four of them at my house when I pulled up. Having already gone through this on several occasions with them, I was immediately tense and fed up. Sandra Bland’s death was only weeks prior. I did not approach the officers as a “good house nigga.” I walked up feeling defensive, and knowing what I’ve seen out of the police in the recent years alone, I knew this encounter could go any way. A small back and forth ensued between the police and I and I was yelling and cussing. One of the officers kept trying to bait me so that he would be able to arrest me but I didn’t fall for it. After his first threat, I asked if I would be the next Sandra Bland. I was ready for war in that split second, although death wasn’t what I had come home for.

My friends and neighbors were outside and came to bring me to their porch while the police searched the sides and back of my house for someone who didn’t live there. The same officer continued to stare at me and trying to tempt me to say or do something. I just pulled my phone out and started taking pictures. My friends would not let me go home until the police were gone. We didn’t even really talk about them while they were there. We discussed a host of other random things. Two men and one woman, all  who family to me by way of friendship. None of them were willing to let me risk it all. They knew me. They knew the police. THEY were the de-escalators. It was August 1, 2015, and I lived to tell about it.11249841_852796828144692_2243813011793375181_n

Secretly, I wanted them to let me go. I wanted to react even though I knew better. Maybe I have PTSD. Maybe I have mental illnesses of some kind. Maybe I don’t need to be left alone with the police during hostile situations.

Thank God I have people who would protect me in life…and death. I saw a video of a local black man being pulled over by IMPD a few weeks back. He was in the wrong but as expected, he was on the defense. His defense was nothing like Korryns. He had no facts or questions for the officer. Instead, he did more taunting and unnecessarily accusing the officer of pulling him over for “being in a nice car.”  Dude, many black people have Dodge Chargers. Get over yourself. The encounter was Facebook live recorded and lasted for at least 20 minutes before he exclaimed to the officer that he was writing him a ticket in order to get “payback” for a locally slain officer. He was provoking and being ignorant IMO and even the person on the speaker phone thought so. But the comment sections were littered with supportive messages and people who stood in agreeance.

I’m not debating whether or not Korryn Gaines was in the right or wrong or how she should have behaved with her children present. I will say there are things she could have done differently that MIGHT have changed the outcome, but I’m not even 100% sure of that statement. I believe at the very least, due to her behavior during the initial traffic stop and what she said to officers that she was a target for them. I believe they wanted to bring trouble her way for being what they would deem a troublemaker. I don’t think this notion is far-fetched just as her suffering from PTSD is an absolute possibility, as is lead poisoning. For me, it’s just hurtful to see how easily we dispose of each other as liabilities and trash. In her death, she has as many, if not more people denouncing her, calling her crazy and questioning her parenting as she does in support of her.

It’s ironic because that’s what white folks do to black men every time one of them is killed. Why aren’t we talking about the police shooting in an apartment, with yet ANOTHER obstructed view, in a room where children were present? Why isn’t that the outrage? Why aren’t you outraged that Korryn was shot and killed instead saying she did it to herself? Why aren’t you outraged that her son was shot in his cheek by the police, who initially said it was his arm? Or I guess anyone could mistake a shot in the arm for a shot in the face. Where is the anger at her boyfriend…who was also being served with a warrant on domestic abuse charges but I digress??? Why can’t people see the pattern here?

Why don’t you think this will happen again?

Perhaps it’s the comment sections. Folks are arguing back and forth with white supremacists and tear-filled white wannabe-victims who are throwing AllLivesMatter pity parties on the backs of dead black people and maybe that is having some adverse effects. I don’t argue with folks. I blog. You won’t change the mind of someone who is comfortable with the way they think. But people still go back and forth relentlessly. I wonder if in this back and forth, similar to the Denzel movie Fallen, is it possible for spirits to transfer?

“A wise man told me not to argue with fools
Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who”  ~JayZ

“I don’t participate in any of you guys side laws or any of that”  ~Korryn Gaines

She was too loud, angry and black to be considered the revolutionary martyr that she is; she is outcast as a black sheep. It doesn’t change the facts. She was killed and her child was shot and that should NOT have happened and could have been avoided. She could have made other decisions I guess…

And so the fuck could the police. But isn’t that always the case?

#KORRYNGAINES #WeSpeakHerName #BlackWomenMatter

*****UPDATE: In February 2018, a jury awarded Kodi Gaines (Korryn’s son who was injured in the shooting) over $32 million, her daughter Karsyn was granted $4 million and her parents were awarded $300K apiece. But in February 2019, Judge Mickey Norman from the Baltimore County Circuit Court, overturned the ruling, siding with the officer and thus leaving the family with nothing: the american way for black people.

If You are in Indy: 13920594_1052216081536098_7733896584326797967_n

Black on Black Crying: Finding Where To Place Our Tears

I know people who know people.

I know people doing a wide variety of different forms of community outreach with organizations as well as on their own accord. I know mentors and teachers, devout activists with their own Not-For-Profits and volunteers. Then there are those who march and protest when the time calls for it and who are active and influential in other areas in between. I also know people who are playing Pokemon. Folks who are on vacation, shopping at Wal-Mart, watching reality TV and folks who post a daily selfie.

ALL of us are hurting for the same reasons. It’s hard to be alive right now and not feel the mental anguish being black in america causes. Like I said, I know people who know people. 10469216_670779103013133_494910723398137443_n

There are many forms of activism available at our fingertips. There is no reason that one person should feel like they cannot contribute something in this fight for what I have now dubbed “the right to be human in America.” For every person of color and our allies, there is a way to fight back against this racist and corrupted system. It is up to YOU as an individual to determine what is the best course of action YOU can take. What one person is doing doesn’t equate to what you need to be doing; some folks are better at other stuff. And that’s ok. Other folks are on break. And guess what: That’s fine too. Check out of this thing sometimes. Mental self-care is important and you can’t be of good assistance to anything if you haven’t assured your own well being.

Every time a black life is snuffed out, a march/protest/vigil is almost immediately put in place. Contrary to what some believe, this also happens when the murderer(s) are black, not just when a white person kills a black person. There just isn’t much attention going on in the hood in regards to those who fight the crime irresponsibly known as “black-on-black crime.” #ButIDigress

When people are killed, organizers get to work contacting speakers and performers who will help bring the message home that we will not stand for this treatment in a country we built and pay to be part of. A location, time and date are secured and invites create word of mouth which hopefully draws a heavy crowd in support of black lives. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Before anything else – before the bullhorns come out and the chants and the poetry and Precious Lord songs – the people are there to pay homage to a life gone too soon and there are times when very few show-up. Regardless, some folks are overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow and need to be in the presence of others who feel the same way. They need to walk alongside folks who also wonder what the answer is. They need to be among like-minds. We are starting to feel helpless and these marches reignite the diminishing fire in some of us. There are networking opportunities with a variety of allies. Although police are starting to treat #BLM protests like a terrorist threat (there is also a petition going around to have BLM classified as terrorist.), there is still strength in numbers. Protests and marches aren’t the ‘answer’ to fixing a system built on blood, but they do serve a purpose.

I know people who are playing Pokemon. I’m not one of them but I’ve seen the posts on Facebook. I still don’t quite get it but I think the allure of what it is, is actually drawing more people to the game. I’m personally not interested but I still know plenty of people who are playing it and race nor gender are factors.

But on social media, the trending topic is to take a hotep-status-piss on what other folks are doing.  People are not distracted because they are playing Pokemon. They didn’t forget that Alton Sterling had to be buried and that Philando was getting buried the following day.  They didn’t fall out of the fight or become useless good and wasted materials because they choose not to be in #BlackLivesMatter mode for 24 straight until change comes. If you are emotionally affected by what is happening to black people and if you are joined in on this fight for our lives, then disconnecting and going to a different headspace doesn’t automatically equal being distracted.

Also, who can tell anyone WHEN change is actually coming????

No damn body knows. When has this country ever love or truly respected black people? It’s always been like this, we are just fucking fed up with it now because it’s happening in our faces. This isn’t the resurfacing of an old practice; this is generations of racism being handed down from parents to children who turn into adults and get jobs as law officials, appoint themselves as watchers of the neighborhood and earn seats in Congress. I bet if I did the research, I could find at least one name for every year from 1930 (random year) until now of a black person killed without legit cause and without justice. Change is something we continue to seek but if we kept it 100 as we say, it’s something that many of us are starting to believe in as much as the Loch Ness Monster. With that said, why can’t a person (a human being) stop for second and reset their brain? Why can’t they tune out of looping videos and the racist online trolls and start watching Love & Hip Hop without being told they are an abomination of the black race? Why can’t I troll B.Scott’s site and see what all is going on in Hollywood to take my mind off of the reality we live in daily?

Next Question:

 why can’t people march?

Why can’t they huddle up in front of the statehouse and scream and rally and cry together if that’s what they need right then or feel led to do? Do any of the keyboard pushers know what helplessness feels like? I’m sure you do because we are all being mentally fucked every single day. Justice misses the mark for us time and time again and here we are feeling like there is not enough we can do or say that will change things for all of us. We are explaining #BLM to people who are dead set on seeing it otherwise. And right now, we are all waiting on the next name to get dropped. It’s going to happen again. And with all the recent police killings (another one as of 7/20/16, Kansas City), I bet it’s already happened and just hasn’t made the popular report.

Sometimes this fight calls for you to download a goofy app and play it until your hands bleed. Or participate in organizing a march. Zoning out. Zoning in.

Or –

…..organizing what YOU think will work, on your own. Then we will all flock to your mission and help with it. Sticking together is about allowing folks the opportunity to be human  – that same thing I said earlier is the fight black people are in (to be recognized as human). In our fight, we have to be careful not to alienate each other with accusations, finger pointing and all the shit that does nothing but create a bigger division. A public, bigger division.

There are 100s of ways to be an activist and if you don’t want to take on that title, there are still ways for you to be of assistance for the greater good of our race of people. Some are small baby steps and fashion statements. You can always do a personal financial boycott. You don’t have to march if you don’t want to but avoid down talking those who do. You may not want to boycott Wal-mart but take the time to find a way to be a valuable contribution to this nationwide cry for help. You don’t have to wait for someone else’s idea to be good in order to execute it. You don’t have to wait for someone to tell you to put your money in an XYZ black bank; just google and research your options and find what’s best for YOU.

There’s a statement in itself:

Research your options and find what’s best for you.

That’s what all of this is about at the end of the day. Finding what’s best for YOU as a way to help us as a community. If you are not good at being in the front speaking to the public, you shouldn’t be up there with the mic. Perhaps your best is marching and chanting. Maybe it’s organizing and planning. Maybe can use your connections and designs to make a statement. If you’re a performer, you can do or create a benefit show w/a true plan on who the money goes to and how to get it to them. The list is endless…..

I have fought the title of an activist for a long time because I feel it comes with so much responsibility and expectation that I don’t know that I always live up to. Beyond that, I just want to fight for what’s RIGHT. And that is still true, but I think that’s what makes me an activist. Yet and still, I am still in the process of finding where I belong in this fight.

I encourage all to do the same. You don’t have to do something because it’s what everyone is doing, but you do need to do something. That is if you believe that black lives matter. And when our ‘somethings’ are different, that doesn’t make either of us better than the other. It means we are working in our respective areas, doing what we do well and making a difference towards the better. That’s what matters. At the end of the day, we are all black-on-black crying together.

This may sound like a fluff blog to some. And who knows, maybe I live in the clouds. I know there are people who ain’t doing SHIT but sitting on their black asses. I don’t pretend they don’t exist, I just don’t put food on their plate. For what? There were plenty of people that did nothing in the sixties. There were plenty of slaves that were content and had made peace with living and dying as a slave. But the job still got done. The slaves still got free, the boycotts worked, as did the unity. A unified front doesn’t mean ALL; it means majority….well at least in my opinion.

I believe we need each other right now and we have too much to lose to …

…actually, make that we have lost too much already to alienate each other or spend time focusing on the folks that don’t want to be involved. Let them be. For those who are taking a break…let them take it. Let them check out. You can sit this one out loves. There are enough of us to keep the momentum going.

For those who are involved and those that want to be, I salute you. Your efforts and your dedication will never get the accolades deserved, but your time and your work will eventually snatch the edges off of the doors that have the audacity to still be closed. 

~j