In February, we are told it is Black History Month. We are allowed to celebrate our accomplishments and display them with pride before a nation that is only too happy to appropriate from us whatever it wants and give us nothing in return.
As it has always been. When Black Apologists say the past is the past and we should get over it, I hang my head in shame for their ignorance. It is clear that such people are given a pulpit to speak because it promotes the ideals so necessary for the system of disenfranchisement we live under to continue.
We can accept that stupid people will say stupid things and move on, or we can stand up and fight for what we know to be right.
Nothing that happened in America should be forgotten. The near-genocide of the Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the decimation of new immigrants and ultimately the financial enslavement of an entire planet.
This is why we must never forget the indignities of the past. They are a persistent illusion perpetuated for profit. A canker that disfigures and stigmatizes the efforts of People of Color in America, acting as if our efforts were never meant to do any more than serve those who perceived themselves to be our betters.
Though they were not able to maintain their control over slavery, they have allowed it to be redesigned, re-purposed and hidden in plain sight in the modern era. They call it Jim Crow, Segregation, Separate but Equal, Economic Redlining, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the Prison-Industrial Complex, the War on Drugs, and their latest addition, Sanctioned Police Brutality and Murder of People of Color in the Line of Duty (now with added vacation time!).
Today the chains are softer, internalized, and often self-perpetuated. Housewives of Atlanta, Self-Hating Rap Music, Celebrity and Sports obsessions, and a good ole America standby, Religion and all of its various self-loathing aphorisms.
The game has changed, but the message is still the same. You can’t compete. We won’t let you. We don’t say no. We just don’t say yes, either.
If you are able to be successful, many times you must do so by casting down your culture and claiming your identity from the one we allow you to wear. Marry White, move away from your people, don’t past down your wealth, disavow your past.
Wear your chains, know your place. I have no use for Black History Month. You cannot give me what I have already earned.
I am the dream of America. I am its awful reality. I cannot be broken and I will not relent. You cannot pretend I don’t exist. Change the media, warp the minds, create your lies.
The truth is far simpler than you would care to believe. For all of your power, all of your cleverness, the only thing you have proven to be superior in is keeping all of humanity in chains to whims better forgotten.
Promoting selfishness as a virtue is foolish. Promoting division among people to maintain your control is wasteful. How many lives have been thrown away furthering an agenda that benefits only a privileged few?
Billions, I’d imagine.
In a few decades, you reign of terror will be over. You will huddle in your walled enclaves and believe in your superiority while you count your worthless billions and hope no one scales the wall to make you pay for your generations of criminal activity.
In the meantime remember this: I will not be stopped. Not now. Not ever. Keep Black History Month for yourselves.
I claim the YEAR, all three hundred and sixty five and a quarter days of it to reminding you WE ARE STILL HERE.
Stronger than you can imagine. More fiercely determined to make our way.
And to be honest, we’re just not that into you. Never were.
Thaddeus Howze is a California-based technologist and author who has worked with computer technology since the 1980’s doing graphic design, computer science, programming, network administration and IT leadership.
His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous magazines: Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, Examiner.com, and Astronaut.com. He maintains a diverse collection of non-fiction at his blog, A Matter of Scale. He is a contributor at The Enemy, a nonfiction literary publication out of Los Angeles.
He is a contributor to the Scifi.Stackexchange.com with over a thousand articles in a three year period. He is now an author and contributor at Scifiideas.com. His science fiction and fantasy has appeared in blogs such as Medium.com, the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com, and the Au Courant Press Journal. He has a wide collection of his work on his website, Hub City Blues. His recently published works can be found here. He also maintains a wide collection of his writing and editing work on Medium.com.
His speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (2012), and Possibilities (2012).
He has written two books: a collection called Hayward’s Reach (2011) and an e-book novella called Broken Glass (2013). In 2015 he will be releasing Visiting Hours and A Millennium of Madness, two collections of short stories.
If you have enjoyed this publication or any of the other writing he does, consider becoming a Patron. For what you spend on a cup of coffee once per month, you can assist him in creating new stories, new graphics, new articles and new novels. Creating the new takes a little support: http://patreon.com/ebonstorm.
Dress as you would for Sunday morning communion.
Black women appear least aggressive with heads bowed,
Black rage does not photograph well.
Quote I Corinthians, every grandmother’s go to book.
Call on Jesus.
Even as your stomach knots, restricts to a rawness that numbs,
convince them that this is His will, and that His will shall be done.
Plead for the peace your child was unworthy of while alive.
Denounce. Distance yourself from the riotous fires
that have done more to honor him than this law has.
Quote an out of context syllogism,
preferably“I Have a Dream.”
After all, you are grieving
and no one has studied it anyway.
Tell them they must vote.
This will not happen if they simply vote
They can move Forward with their Obamas and Holders
on their shoulders. Tell them he cannot really speak for you.
He is not the President of Black America.
Make it plain you’ve raised all of your children to be color blind.
You are Christians in spite of your dead son’s
Call for faith in a system that has failed you for 400 hundred years.
Tell them justice must run the same course
as the too many bullets that splintered your child’s temple,
opened up his abdomen like some twisted Cracker Jack prize.
Mention the good police.
Not all bad. Not all vigilante.
Not all trigger happy. Not all racist.
Yet all more alive and well than your child.
Be respectable. Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Tell them the police kill them because they kill themselves.
Tell them that they are responsible for the smashed skulls
of their own daughters and sons
with their sagging pants, poverty,
and murderous rhymes that malign collective progress.
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Repeat as you watch yet another mother fold her tears in her already bulging purse.
Watch while she strains to push her child back inside the safety of her womb.
Stare as she leans over a son who looks oddly like your own:
Dead and stiff and indicted and tried more than his murderer.
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Of Black on Black Crime.
Of Black on Black crime.
“This is not about race.”
Convince her it is necessary
that she believes it too.
Watch the video, the entire eight minutes of it. I could have grabbed the last 30 seconds of Tamir’s life but there is something important you will be missing if you don’t watch the whole thing. Something innocent and child-like, something young Black children rarely get to be anymore.
Watch the video and see if you can see past your partisan bullshit and see just a child, being a child and dying because someone couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about him, as a person. For all you folks who will say this child is dead because they followed policy. We need new damn policies.
I watched the entire seven minute and forty second version of this film. For more than six minutes the boy is just walking around, minding his own business, doing nothing in particular.
Know that while he is doing nothing, someone is reporting him as threatening people in the park with a gun.
When the child sits down on the bench in the park he is probably just resting but little did he know he would be dead in two minutes.
The police do not arrive on the scene and park a discrete distance away to ASSESS the situation. They do not arrive at a distance to DETERMINE THE NATURE OF THE THREAT.
They instead drive up within three feet of their subject. They do not ANNOUNCE their presence. And they surely couldn’t have because they are leaving their vehicle within three seconds of their arrival.
Two seconds after the door to the police car is open, the officer is shooting and the child is dead. Only then do they call in shots fired.
To sum this up:
The police could have arrived at a distance and announced their intention, while still within their vehicle (as they do when they pull me over to the side of the road, with their internal loud-speaking system).
“This is the police. Put your weapon on the ground and step back. Put your hands behind (or above) your head.”
Once the boy complies (and he most assuredly would since HE KNEW he was armed with a toy gun) they would have been able to approach and determine the nature of the threat called in and the boy playing in the park were NOT the same thing.
And Tamir Rice would still be alive. This is negligence, pure and simple. Neither of these policemen should still be allowed to be remain custodians of the law. Their blatant disregard for young Black men is clear in their approach and use of unnecessary force.
Rest assured, there will be another media shuffle where they vilify this child or his family, call him dangerous and his death was a boon to society. And these two officers will get two weeks of paid vacation. At least at home, they won’t kill anyone else.
Tamir Rice’s 14-year-old sister was handcuffed and left to watch her 12-year-old brother dying in the snow after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer on Nov. 22, 2014, as seen in a new video released by the city late Wednesday. The teen, who was tackled and detained as she tried to approach her wounded brother, witnessed the ordeal unfold from the back of a police cruiser less than 10 feet from his body.
The disturbing new details, which match the account given by Rice’s mother, Samaria, at a press conference in December, are taken from an extended surveillance video clip obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group. City officials had initially released a short portion of the video and refused to release the full version to the public.
Tamir Rice was confronted by officers while waving an air pistol in an empty Cleveland park. Officer Timothy Loehmann, seen in the video exiting from the passenger side door, opens fire less than two seconds after the stepping out of the vehicle.
Here is the full 30-minute clip. Rice’s sister approaches the scene from the left-hand side at the 1:42 mark:
“This has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen,” Akron, Ohio-based attorney Walter Madison told Cleveland.com after watching the extended video.
No help: Neither the first-year officer who shot Rice, nor his partner Frank Garmback, appear to offer the wounded boy medical aid or comfort. Garmback is the one seen confronting Rice’s sister and pushing her to the ground. The first person to administer first aid is an FBI agent who arrived on the scene by chance.
Paramedics arrive eight minutes after the first shot is fired, and Rice is stretchered into an ambulance about five minutes later.
Unfit for duty: Hours before they received extended surveillance tape Wednesday, the Northeast Ohio Media Group also reported that Loehmann failed an exam to become a deputy with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department in September 2013. According to internal documents, his application was denied after he scored a 46% on a written cognitive test. Seventy percent is considered a passing grade.
If you’re an adult, you hate paying for it. Car insurance can double the cost of your car payments, if you own a home, you need to have a variety of coverage plans depending on where you live and for some things you just can’t afford it no matter what you do. See: Earthquake insurance in California…
Well, now there’s a new insurance we wish existed but until it does, you can laugh at these poor guys who wish they had… Racism Insurance!
Captain America has been forcibly retired and sent to an old folks home in issue 21 of his most comic series. He will be succeeded by long time friend, former sidekick and present day Avenger, Sam Wilson, also known as the first African American superhero, The Falcon. Sam will bring his trademark wings to the role of Captain America.
In related news: Thor Odinson has been determined to be ‘unworthy’ to wield the mystic hammer Mjolnir, his constant companion and signature weapon for over a thousand years. He will be replaced by a mysterious woman who will be calling herself Thor, at least while she is using Mjolnir.
This is not news. This is hype. Hype is a specialized form of propaganda which is expected to turn into money at the box office, store front or on the sales floor. Hype does not last, most changes that take place have little to do with the history of the characters being hyped or changed and in the end, things tend to return to their status quo. In other words:
MARVEL JUST WANTS YOUR DAMN MONEY
Neither of these MINORITY characters who have experienced this recent “promotion” in social status into the roles of long established legacy heroes.
Because it isn’t about social justice. It isn’t about opportunity. It isn’t about making things more balanced. It isn’t about promoting diversity in non-diverse ranks.
It’s about money. Plain and simple.
They want you (or someone who has not been frozen in the ice for 50 years) to obsess over the idea of Captain America being a Black man.
Anthony Mackie rocked the role of the Falcon in the Winter Soldier so the boys at Marvel Marketing and Development decide to take advantage of that and make Cap Black.
Sorta like they did with Nick Fury in the Ultimate Universe. For an entire generation of readers and the general movie going audience, Nick Fury is Samuel Jackson. Except he wasn’t.
Marvel’s money grab is endemic in the nature of their promotion. But it is a fail before it has even begun because, in the typical new Marvel fashion, they have shown nothing but contempt for the characters and their underlying concepts.
In the case of the new Thor, she is a woman taking a man’s name as her Title. Yes, she is becoming the new THOR. But isn’t that the son of Odin’s actual name? Thor Odinson?
She may be acquiring Mjolnir and all of the powers that go with it, but what happened to her name and since when did being THOR become a title, not a name? When Beta-Ray Bill became Beta-Ray Thor. But note, he kept HIS name.
Her adoption of the title of Thor, replacing her name is patriarchal without ever mentioning it. She will be less than the male white character in the role because for her to be more, there would have to be a woman somewhere in the development team to address those issues.
And we already know there won’t be. THAT isn’t the Marvel way.
And more importantly she would have to do things Thor Odinson would never do, in order to be recognized as equal. Her promotion was nothing more than a gimmick, something to bring in new readers. Note the level of promotion used.
For Christ’s sake she appeared on ‘The View’. How desperate is Marvel to appear more egalitarian especially in light of so many egregious articles discussing their lack of TRUE diversity? Who were they marketing the new Thor to? I can assure you very few men are watching the View unless someone has chained them to a chair…
MARVEL HAS BLACK HEROES, AND NOW ONE WILL BE CAPTAIN AMERICA.
Yawn. Big Deal.
Yes, Marvel can claim they have Black superheroes, (and I can name ten without breaking a sweat – Falcon, Black Panther, Cage, Spectrum, Storm, Blue Marvel, Battlestar, Goliath, the Prowler, and Bishop) but none of those heroes have the notoriety, fame, accolades or active titles of some of Marvel’s longest running white heroes.
And that is Marvel’s fault for not doing the work to create characters who could bring the imagination to life. To bring the concept of Blacks as equals to the mythology that is the superhero genre. We can imagine, aliens, Negative Universe, god-like men and men like gods, but we cannot imagine a Black Superhero with Powers that can shake the world. It is more than those comic creators want to be responsible for.
To make an equal Black superhero would imply there was an imbalance in the first place. Hence, the most famous of Black superheroes often have NO POWERS AT ALL.
Which brings us to the Falcon. If in the late seventies when Cap and the Falcon were nearing their combined title together, if you had suggested that the Falcon become Captain America, it would have been a significant idea. At that point, they had been champions of justice, trained together significantly (in fact, at that point, there had been no other hero who had trained to work with Captain America as much or as often.)
The two had developed a level of teamwork that was both seamless and amazingly efficient. The Falcon was his own superhero and had earned his wings (so to speak.)
At that point, very few people had ever been Cap and he had never stepped away from the role. But today, being Captain America has been little more than a slot on a resume of superheroes. Hawkeye, Battlestar, Super-Patriot, and Bucky have all been the good Captain since the Falcon and Cap teamed up in the past.
So why now? By now, Marvel knows what both you and I already know. The Falcon is the Falcon and a Black man and Captain America is Steve Rogers. The seeds of the replacement are set in that very statement.
Every time they put someone in that Cap’s uniform, THAT PERSON IS DOOMED TO FAIL AND BE REPLACED BY THE GENUINE ARTICLE. The American Dream as embodied by the character means only Steve Rogers will ever hold that role successfully by the inherent prejudice of the character’s design.
America wasn’t ready for a half-white president. The reality caused a social schism that proved racism was not only alive, but happy living in witness protection in the flyover states.
Fans will tolerate their myth-space being overturned for a moment, for the sake of diversion. But think about the nerd-rage over Heimdall becoming Black in the Thor movies. The apoplexy over Johnny Storm being adopted and the brother to Sue Richards in the new Fantastic Four movie.
The nerd answer is always: this is the true depiction of these characters and there is no reason to change them.
Except they were written in a time when racism and exclusion were the order of the day. Don’t be fooled. The day when a Black Character can represent America will come. But it isn’t today. It isn’t the Falcon dressed in Captain America’s uniform.
The day will come when a Black Hero can step up with their own name, without wearing the legacy of a white hero paving the way for them. When the respect of the efforts of Black Men and Women who paved the way for this nation to be the potentially great thing that it is acknowledged by presenting that character with dignity, flaws and the bravery we know Black Men and Women deserve for their time and treatment in the US.
That hero was the Falcon. One of the first non-legacy Black heroes.
If Marvel wanted to do something significant, they would give Sam some superpowers besides, to quote Hawkeye, when the archer was passed over due to color quotas in the Peter Gyrich Avengers, “besides flying and rapping with birds”.
Amen, Hawkeye. It’s about time.
As an added treat, from Avengers 181(back when comics were 35 cents: When the government decided the Avengers could no longer operate without its mandate, it appointed their first liaison, Peter Gyrich. I hated this man but by the time the Civil War came about, I remembered every word he said had come true. This is one of my favorite issues because we watch Hawkeye, a long-time Avenger get temporarily ousted from the team by Gyrich since the Avengers had to conform to governmental hiring statues, including it seemed, affirmative action. The Falcon wasn’t too pleased with this either. Sam Wilson is many things, but he was not digging the Token Negro thing one bit.
Found a wonderful collection of hate-filled racist tweets from Saturday ranging from cheering Zimmerman and the awesomeness of the American Justice system to being glad someone was standing up for White people and putting niggers back in their place. (Bear with me. If you know my work, I never use that word lightly.) Part of this is the internet promoting anonymous ass-hattery, most of these were fake accounts created for inciting and promoting anger and frustration. I know this because I have used Twitter long enough to know how to recognize fake accounts when I see them.
But the sentiments they voice are still quite real. The hands on those keys in anonymous places are connected to real honest-to-God (I know) racists, bigots and culturally-deprived idiots. More than half, probably have never left their state, and a good percentage of them, the county in which they were born. Most have never broken bread with the object of their hatred, let alone known one unless they were beating him over the head with a tire iron or raping her before dumping her body in a bijou.
Now why did I go there? Because ultimately this is the end result of such hate-filled rhetoric promoted by the powers that be. Hatred is an infection, it is a disease and like any good disease it needs multiple vectors, multiple ways of being transmitted. When hatred reaches the perfect point of transmission, it can be transferred anonymously through the internet itself, no longer a need for human contact. Its virulence refined, it can take shape in the very words used to spew it across the screen.
You might think you are immune. Many of you may believe you are free of hatred, but you are probably still a carrier even if you don’t actively display any of the hate-filled symptoms.
White privilege, the ability to participate in society without fear of being stopped by the police, without fear of having a legally mandated officer of the law, kick down your door, and arrest everyone in your home, find out they are incorrect and release you 48 hours later without an apology and without fixing your door. White privilege means you won’t find yourself shot to death (with 40 rounds no less) while reaching for your wallet, while across town a White vigilante marksman who is shooting up a city council meeting manages to be taken alive without firing a shot.
Is there an incongruency? Discontinuity? I can name dozens of these events almost without effort; a veritable litany of undermining, disenfranchisement, devastation and death. Watch this all of your life, embed this into the fiber of your being, find a way to cope around the cancer that is your nothingness in a land of plenty.
Don’t tell me you feel my pain. No, you do not know how the other half lives. Not even close.
Now for you people of color, your lesson is this: Hopefully, none of you are under the illusion that this is just a phase. This is a sampling of a greater problem in these United States. If you are a Black person who believes you are free, equal, or operate at the same level as the poorest white person in the land, YOU ARE MISTAKEN.
I know this is not what people want to hear. What they want is to experience is a cultural solidarity promised by the Statue of Liberty. We want to believe we are the poor and huddled masses yearning to be free. Well, we are partially right.
They keep us poor, deny us access to good and useful education, make us pay more for less education and use the education system to funnel us into the prison pipeline recreating the only legal form of slavery left. We are huddling, in our shacks, on the streets, in our cars, bereft of our homes, blackballed from work that is meaningful, that supports families, that builds legacies. So we have the poor and huddled parts just right.
Are you still yearning to be free? Damn right you are. Freedom from being shot in the street at will by any person who has a gun and the balls to use it. (Which today is just about everyone. There are states wanting to teach 5 year old children how to shoot a gun. WHY? have the playgrounds become a battlefield? Not yet.)
If you are black and male, chances are you are more likely to be killed by a registered member of a police department than by any other means in the United States. So the most dangerous thing to a young black man is… the police? What happened to protect and serve? Oh yes. That is a part of White privilege and we don’t have that.
Still yearning to be free? Yes, you are. Free to be able to name your children whatever you want and have them be able to get a job that does not screen them on the basis of whether they have good Christian names. How about getting a job based on their skills, not on whether they are potentially frightening because they happen to be a shade of brown darker than a paper bag? Can’t happen you say? There are states where the level of unemployment for Blacks is higher than 50%. This seems counter to the value placed on the unemployment level for white men at 6%.
Seems balanced, eh? Spare me the rhetoric of there being white unemployment at levels of 8-15% in various parts of the nation, because I know this already. In those same parts of the nation, Black unemployment is at 28-40% so I don’t feel your pain in the same way.
How many more young black men will the nation kill before you begin to realize this particular truth? The irony is I can say this and be considered angry and dangerous because I am Black but those racists, those self-styled defenders of American virtue right there will end up in positions of power through no particular merit other than their White skin and have the power to affect the lives of people of color, every day of their lives.
They won’t be as rude when they are older or in public, but it will not matter. They will still have the power to choose where people of color live, how they vote, the effectiveness of the employment, the quality of their juries, the state of schools in economically depressed areas, the quality of healthcare, the existence of government support programs.
And though the people they will harm when they manipulate those programs will mostly be poor whites, they are aiming their blow at Blacks. Their intent will be to harm Black and Brown people they have been conditioned to fear (and by proxy hate) their entire lives.
Is there an answer to counter this? Is there a solution? Honestly, I don’t know. I have spent fifty years trying to figure out why it is even this way in the first place, but I am done pretending THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN AMERICA, BECAUSE IT IS APPARENT TO ANYONE WITH EYES, THERE IS.
And contrary to popular belief it has less to do with me as a person of color than with the institutions which have made the marginalization of People of Color a national pastime with roots as old as the nation itself. You want to complain Black people are what wrong with this nation? I disagree. What’s wrong with this nation is the pathological hatred of everyone not white and its pernicious effects on laws, policies and behaviors that steal from EVERYONE in this nation by keeping other HUMAN BEINGS from having the same rights, education, opportunities as the most elite and powerful whites in this nation.
Yes, I said it. Deal with it.
Every individual who is starving on a street corner somewhere due to a policy that says we should have more guns and less healthcare is a blow against human dignity. It is a form of racism and classism and good old-fashion fear based hatred. Every time you vote for a politician who says we should put people back to work while he gets paid for shipping a job to another country is another form of hatred of individuals he does not respect. Because if he did, he would be trying to find ways to improve the nation and the opportunities of everyone, not just his pocketbook.
We can find money for war without batting an eye. We can find money to create destruction, we can find money to attack and kill brown people all over the planet. No industry moves with the speed and alacrity of the US military machine. No decisions get made in Congress with the clarity of going to war (except maybe during the sequester and they wanted to ensure they could get flight home).
Should we: Feed people? No. Build a bridge. No. Put a banker behind bars for engaging in what is clearly a fraudulent act. No. Investigate a series of banks accused of defrauding entire economies and bankrupting tens of millions. Okay. (And the punishment is to fine them the equivalent of an hour’s pay. They’re banks! THEY’RE MADE OF MONEY!)
Meanwhile people, not statistics wander without work, without homes, without food, without money, without hope. When unemployment was at 25% during the Depression it was a national tragedy and they moved heaven and Earth to fix the problem. When unemployment for Blacks was at 35%, did anyone even notice? (Answer is no…in case you were wondering.)
This is not about me as a person of color. Every person who IS a person, who believes we all have the right to be happy, working, comfortable, engaged in our society and free from huddling and being hungry should be standing up and marching in the streets today. This is not just about Trayvon Martin (though partially, it is) it is about all of us.
A tent city in Sacramento, California
The hatred that killed Trayvon Martin is killing you too. You are just too numbed by Snookie, American Idol, Pacific Rim, ESPN, whiskey, sex, or just too fucking stupid to realize it yet. There shouldn’t be a street in this nation that isn’t overflowing with people protesting ALEC, the NRA and the state of Florida and it’s criminal police department for allowing this travesty to take place under the guise of law.
There shouldn’t ever be a point in history where an armed man follows another unarmed man, confronts and harasses that unarmed man, suddenly finds himself in duress and being prepared to claim self defense, gets to kill the man being followed. Without consequence. Without conscience. Except there was. Again. Once upon a time they had dogs and followed Black men to return them to plantations, or to kill them for ogling a white women, or because they were bored and didn’t have anything to do that afternoon. In other words business as usual in America.
Except when it is…
Adding insult to injury Zimmerman and clan are found saying some of the most hateful and terrible things I can imagine, with a straight face, without apology, with his family co-signing his spite. A vitriol so bitter it’s like rubbing salt into a flesh-eating bacteria wound. Which part of a fallen empire are you people not seeing? Is it the bread or the circuses part? Not so much bread anymore but thanks to Faux News, circuses, aplenty.
I am a Black man. I am used to walking out of my house with the idea I may not make it home tonight, though I have done everything right, been a legal citizen, paid my taxes, loved my family, respected my fellow man, even if he didn’t deserve it. I bite my tongue and mince my words to keep my job even when someone disrespects me and calls me nigger to my face in a private office when its just he and I and no one will believe he could say such a thing because he is an upstanding citizen of his community.
I am reconciled to the fact my family may have no recourse if a policeman decides he doesn’t like the cut of my jib, or if a random white man decides for whatever reason he is willing to risk the justice system (such as it is) and kills me. THIS HAS BEEN MY REALITY ALL OF MY LIFE.
I have no such illusions about fairness or parity of American Life. I have no illusions that I am equal when I apply for work, because I see it in their eyes when I show up at the door for the interview. (Oh, shit. He’s Black.) I can feel it in the limp handshake (disrespectful). I can see it in the glazed look and the lackluster interest.
I can see it in the eyeballing of watches or clocks in the room, eager for the event to be over so they can get on with the next better, whiter candidate who is going to be better qualified because he is white and will fit in better with the social and cultural schema established by her office manager who has been told by her director, indirectly that we are seeking a better fit of our employees with the corporate culture who has been told by his VP that we are not looking for people who haven’t been to an ivy league school who has been told by the CEO we only want the “best people”.
Euphemisms, every one of them. I understand that I can never be the best people in your eyes.
But, I am still better than THAT.
I guess there aren’t enough White people having been made hungry by bad policy yet. Not enough on them on the street, not enough children being shot, not enough food stamps being cut, not enough children being imprisoned, or dying, or committing suicide. I guess when you’re feeling more like second-class citizens, you may decide to stand up for what’s right and not just for what’s white.
I’ll be over here huddling, yearning to be free while you make up your minds…
This is a rally in New York in solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin. The Million Hoodie March.
Trayvon Martin was a young black man who was killed unjustly in Florida. If you haven’t read any articles, I will point you at the New York Times. It has the view of the story I like the most. ThinkProgess.org keeps an updated chart of information. Go ahead, read them and then get right back. Then I read an article at the Good Men Project as it was talking about how Black men enjoy flying on Southwest Airlines because no one wants to sit next to them on a flight, giving them more leg room. However, this particular perk came with other questions. Do you experience other times when such isolation and covert racism can be a problem? I read the comments for the article (and while I know better than to read comments, I couldn’t help myself). And those comments irked me, a whole lot. I try not to let covert racism reach me in my heart. So I wrote:
Is this really news to anyone? Oh wait, it is if you are not a Black man. I have experienced this phenomenon my entire life. Whenever I ride any form of mass transit, the seat next to me will remain open unless the person is more infirm or potentially more threatening than I appear to be. On airplanes, unless seating is assigned, the seat next to me remains open. I have even tested the idea of walking down the street and not deviating from my flight plan. People walk around me and anyone I am walking with, even if I walk against the flow of traffic. This subtle act of fear, built around racism regarding Black Men, has turn me from being 5 feet 9 inches of a highly educated, well spoken, unassuming, non-threatening, well-dressed Black Man into the Most Dangerous Man Alive. It would amuse me if it wasn’t such a sad statement about our society. This trick works no matter where I lived in the country. This is such an isolating condition. Imagine what the workplace is like when this “untouchable” state is active. Corporate work is hell when you are an “untouchable.” (And before someone rants and tells me about the castes of untouchables in other cultures, I know they exist and that is why I mentioned it.)
Someone at the publication decided to move my comment to its own section and everyone wanted to give me their opinions on my experience. Their comments varied from mild to condescending. I was prepared to ignore them until I did more research into the death of Trayvon Martin. At this time, more news had become available and I was emotionally distraught. I have an eight year old son who look suspiciously like Trayvon did as a young child. I lost my composure and wrote what I was feeling. At first I had not planned to press send. I was writing to release it to the ether and planned on pressing delete. I realized that was just as much of the problem as anything else. I did not feel empowered to speak my mind. To hell with that!
“Being” While Black
Now in light of our recent tragedy of Trayvon Martin, anyone willing to look at me, yes, I am the guy that wrote the selected comment and tell me that “Being or Walking While Black” is not an obstacle in our current supposedly “post-racial” society is simply not paying attention.
If you were not aware, Trayvon Martin was a young Black man in Florida who was shot because “he looked suspicious.” If you were a White person who told me that I should yield to people coming down the street, or a Black person who told me I should work to be happier so that I mind the racism less, neither of those answers will address the reality that as I move down any street in at least fifteen states in the US who have similar “Stand Your Ground” laws, I could be accused of being aggressive, belligerent, or hell just being there is all it takes for me to find myself shot and my shooter walking away, as long as he said, he was “engaged in an act of self defense.”
Let’s add to that, the tendency of law enforcement to grab young Black men off the street, crime or not and harass them at will. I have dealt with that all of my life. “Driving while Black, Walking while Black” now I can add to it “Being while Black” as a reason to deprive me of my social rights, respect, or even my life without any consequences to any White person who can mouth the right legal words to escape. Does this make me angry? Hell, yes. And if it were happening to you or your sons, you would be livid. But it’s not so for most of you, you don’t give a damn.
Now all of you who would put words in my mouth about how I should do things in this society remember this: NONE of you have to walk in my shoes. You do not have to fear every time you walk out your door, it may be the last time, through no fault of your own but through the racial stigma associated with being a Black Man. I do not have to do anything. I simply have to exist for someone to decide that I might be a threat and that threat needs to be neutralized. Know that when the system has gathered the last Black Man from the streets, and put them in the prisons or the morgue, they will come for you next. This is not just about my Blackness. This is about power and control. This society needs a demon, a boogeyman for people to fear while they are being manipulated, led about and exploited as the natural resource they are. The next time you consider the phrase “human resources” it should give you a chill.
Turn your back on me and my travails, it is after all the American way. Black men are the most unemployed members of our society, even when their skills and training are comparable or superior, most imprisoned, no matter the type of crime, we are over-represented within the penal system, most under-educated, we are plucked out of the school system, called unteachable by the fourth grade and fast-tracked into the penal system. I challenge all of you snarky folk with something to say about “perceived racism” or my reaction to it, to work on the “actual racism” visibly inherent in society.
Otherwise when you see me coming down the street, get the hell out of my way. I am fighting the system because I have no choice. It is trying to kill me and everyone like me. I don’t have time for you and your petty fears, my life is on the line.
The State of Black Science Fiction 2012 has been a web/bloghop series started by Alicia McCalla and the Black Science Fiction Society in an effort to bring more awareness to the existence of Black writers of science fiction and fantasy and our diverse reasons and experiences for reading, writing and creating it. This is week seven of our journey. (Yes, I owe you two articles but I have to write other things, too.)
I have enjoyed this explosion of creativity and it is setting me up for my favorite yearly challenge, 30 Short Stories in 30 Days in April. Be sure to tune in then. Perhaps I can get some of my compatriots to join me. If you write and you want to join me, send me an email or post a comment. It’s one of the best experiences of my writing life. Give it a try. I leave you with our writing prompt inspired for a lecture given by the Black Science Fiction Society at Georgia Tech. You can see the writers reading their stories on my post marked the Bracelet.
I help him up and walk him into his study. He is paper-thin, light like a bird, a wisp of the force I remember from my youth. I can feel the fire burning through him, my second sight, even shielded cannot block the visions of his power. I help him to his workbench, a central seat of his gift. It was only as we drew close could I sense it.
The bracelet. It shimmered in darkness the way his power glowed brightly. A cool black metal that flickered like glass, lit from within with a sinister madness. This was my last time to say no.
Once he sits, his palsy stops when he picks it up. His eyes harden like flint and his unspoken gaze beckons me to sit across from him. The light from the power within him dims. “Once you put this on, you will enter our Order. There is no release, no resistance, no rest from Ouroboros, her power is complete and unending. Do you understand?”
Of course I did. This was what I trained for this last fifteen years. This decision would mark my journey to true power.
“I know that look, boy. You think, you are getting what you want. Do you think I don’t know what you’re feeling? I sat there once.”
“Master, I am just eager to begin our work.”
“Don’t be in such a rush to go out and subjugate the world.”
“Spare me. Your lust for power was why you were chosen. Ouroboros requires strong passion, better to harness your gift.”
“Harness my gift?”
“Give me your hand, child. This is not a toy, or just a tool. It is a weapon coupled with your intent. Fail to harness your intent and it will kill you.”
He rubs the bracelet and taps it on his stone workbench. He taps it again. And again. The flat sound echoes across my senses, first a ripple, then a tide. Then a crack appears in the surface of the stone. Ironwood, once was living, now a metallic stone, one of the hardest natural substances, cracks, splinters to dust, with a sound like the world ending.He grabs my hand and his grip was as strong as it was weak a moment ago. The bracelet had expanded and my hand slipped into it easily. Then all I could feel was the power. All that I thought I knew about power was now erased. My inner energy was as a candle compared to this burning sun. He was right. I had no idea. The things I would do.The metal burned my flesh as it began to close tightly on my wrist. As mine grew darker, I could suddenly see his. It was always there, you only saw it for a second whenever he would transit a window curtain and the light hit it just right. Now it was alive, visible and its energy flew toward me.
“Yes, you can feel the power of Ouroboros and you think, I can do anything. And you are right. But with light, comes the darkness. Ouroboros is between all things, so I now give unto you the other side of power. Responsibility. The chains that binds this power to your very soul. Each time you partake of her power, you are dying. You will do great things. But whenever you reach beyond what is yours, and ask her for power, your sacrifice will be your time left to live. And you have much to do.”
The black shadow fell on my bracelet and its light was diminished, flecked with shadows, nuances and shades of grey. My vision returned to normal. His grip loosened and he fell back into his chair, boneless and still. I rushed to him over the remnants of his work desk, its power drained into me.
He looked at me, then down to the bracelet. He smiled fiercely. “Chained you again. He’s a strong one. Your scourge will be contained, for a time.” He lifted his head, his eyes rheumy with age. “I’m sorry, Kal.” His whisper barely reached me.
He died slumping forward into my arms.
“He was a bitter, old man. We will do great things, you and I.”
I could feel her coiled around my heart. Squeezing and settling down like a snake. Making my power her own.
All that light. The radiance that dwarfed my own. Those were the lives of mages she’d claimed before me. I am insignificant to her. She thinks to use me up. I am no more than food to her. I may never be able to be free of her, but I certainly don’t have to give her what she wants. She will earn every meal.
“They all said that. All fell before me. Ambition is a hard taskmaster.” She paused to let me think on that. Then she continued. “We have time; there is no rush to get back to taking your world for my own. Let us get to know one other.”
Thaddeus Howze, Author – is a veteran of the IT and Communications industry with over 26 years of experience retooling computers to best serve human needs. Unknown to humanity, our computers have another agenda. Thaddeus recently released his first collection of short stories, Hayward Reach. In a coded format, he has secretly informed Humanity of the impending computerized apocalypse. You can read parts of the code here: https://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com. You can read excerpts and other short stories at Hub City Blues.
Part of a series of essays on: The State of Black Science Fiction
Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event
Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer – is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/
L. M. Davis, Author – began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog: http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.
Margaret Fieland, Author – lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines: http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.
Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/
Alicia McCalla, Author – writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com
Balogun Ojetade, Author – of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: TheChronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/
Rasheedah Phillips, Author – is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.
Nicole Sconiers, Author – is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html