I went to see Fruitvale station last night. What an amazing movie. I cried. I don’t mean the little tears rolling down your face while you still look beautiful kind of crying. I mean the nose blowing, snot generating, puffy faced kind of sobbing. And I was not ashamed. I cried for Oscar Grant. I cried for his Mama and his girlfriend and his daughter. I cried for his friends and the people who loved him. I cried for the people who would never get a chance to meet him. I cried and cried and cried.
When Oscar Grant was murdered it hurt me. I read his story and cried at the injustice of it all. A young father, fresh off of a New Year celebration, rushing home with his woman to go get their little girl. I couldn’t believe that that B.A.R.T. officer just pulled his gun and shot this young man in his back. THEN the video footage was released. I watched it because I felt it was important. It broke me down. To hear the officer say, “Stand Back” to his partner and then pull his gun and shoot an unarmed man in his back was shocking and heartbreaking. How could this happen?
I have been trying to write a poem about it since I saw the movie but the emotions are too raw to be wrangled in to poetry yet so I’m re-posting the piece I wrote in 2010.
Someone asked my why I care about Oscar Grant?
Actually she was making a joke
when she stated
and I quote;
“Dana’s new Black panther project
is that guy killed in California
She turned to me and asked
“Why do you let these things
get you all riled up?
Why do you care about
She said more…
performing for her audience
of people like her
They don’t relate to these men.
They aren’t REAL to them.
The media rushes in to
each victim in the public’s eyes.
From juvenile records released
to the wallet for which he reached…
it’s THEIR own fault.
They emphasis their different-ness
so you won’t care
or look into a mother’s eyes
and see yourself there.
OF COURSE WE SHOULD CARE!
Can you please
take a moment to HEAR me?
Listen and accept what I tell you is MY reality?
That is what is missing from all of this discourse
people just shouting at each other until they are hoarse.
What we need to do is bridge a divide
listen with our hearts and not our pride.
Put aside your reality and try on mine.
Listen close to me and close your eyes.
I don’t live in the hood
my neighborhood is good
But the cops aren’t always the good guys.
I have Black and White friends AND family
I have seen first hand how we are not treated equally.
When was the last time
your White friend
was pulled from a car
during a routine traffic stop
put face down on the ground by 7 cops?
I have seen this happen FOUR times
and I was IN the ride.
But the driver was NEVER white.
Once you can accept
that maybe there are cops
who abuse their power,
see the people they are supposed to be protecting
as the enemy
you are starting to understand my reality
and that of those who look like me.
Why do I care about Oscar Grant?
He IS me
so easily could have been.
He is YOU
if you continue to accept
that taking a human life
is a mistake
justifiable by rallies
hurled racial insults
discourse that is anything but humane.
He is YOU!
As you cede your civil liberties
by saying it’s okay for cops to murder
shoot in cold blood
in the back
a man who was
He was surrounded by officers
just moments before he was shot
an officer was on top of him with his knee in Oscar’s back
and his partner said “stand back”
pulled his gun
Is that really defensible?
We are not that different from you.
Walk across the bridge with me
let’s create a NEW reality.
Let’s start with calling a crime
Let’s start with valuing EVERY life
We are not that different from you.
And if its okay to kill those who look like me….
One day it will be okay to kill you too.
P.S. – I had some formatting issues but everything you see in blue is a clickable link. Learn about these men. Remember their names. Let their legacy be lasting.
I’m still reeling from the verdict.
I’m still trying to figure out how to raise a hope-filled, loving, sweet, smart little brown girl in the wake of the verdict. I’m still trying to figure out what I teach her about her country and her place in it. I’m grateful she’s so little. I’m grateful that I have some time to heal and think. I have found myself, more than once, thanking God that I don’t have a son.
Sit with that.
I am grateful that I don’t have a little black boy to raise.
This is my truth.
It makes me uncomfortable
but my discomfort makes it no less true.
I live an integrated life. I always have. My family and friends span the entire spectrum of skin tones. I don’t, “hate whitey” or think that all white people can’t be trusted. That’s silly. My life has not borne that out. But I’m hurting. I’m hurting so badly and all I want is for people to TRY and understand and then TRY and make it better.
Racism won’t be legislated away. Yes we need laws to strike down the systems set in place to hold all non-white people back. Yes we need level playing fields. But racism won’t be eradicated by laws. Racism can only be totally and finally conquered by love. It can only end when we all make REAL connections with each other. Racism ends with boots on the ground loving. It ends with us SEEING each other, and LISTENING to each other, and LOVING each other. It ends when the non-black people who love me can hear my pain, not as an indictment of them but as MY truth. It ends when they can hear my pain and see ME, as a person who is hurting. Because THAT is what makes people stand up the next time someone makes a joke that isn’t funny. That is what makes a person outraged when someone makes a false generalization about another race.
Those interactions…those intra-racial conversations are what will change things.
I’m hurting because I want to believe in my country. I was born here. My parents were born here. This is my land. This is my home. I am proud to be American. I know we aren’t perfect but I also know that opportunity abounds here. I know that possibility is nourished here. I know that freedom is here. Even if it’s just the freedom to talk about what IS wrong here. I love America.
But this country hurts me, it wounds me, deeply and then refuses to acknowledge my heartbreak. I keep believing in our justice system because I am American and I believe that we can get it right. We can’t get it right until we can admit it’s failures. The justice system failed the family of Trayvon Martin and all of us who hunger for justice and equality.
We held our collective breaths waiting for a verdict that would equal justice. We held our breaths because we knew that Trayvon could have been our father, son, brother or friend. We held our breaths because we know too many people who have been profiled. We held our breaths because we know too many Black men who have been murdered simply because their skin tone made them scary to someone else. We held our breaths and some of us….we are still holding it. We are still waiting for someone to recognize the humanity of our Black boys and men. We are still waiting for justice from a country that we love no matter how much it disappoints us.
you were a friend to me
in the popular fraternity
you noticed me.
You picked me up after a party
so nice to me
always so funny and sweet.
I had such a good time
I didn’t want to go home
didn’t want to go back to my dorm.
I wanted to keep the party going.
we went back to your room.
I was geeked
friends high-fiving me
you were cute and so sweet.
laughter on the way over
story after story
laughing until my stomach hurt.
And then we were there.
You wanted me to drink something
but I wasn’t a drinker.
“no thank yous”
put you in such a bad mood.
We smoked a little
from a bong
my first time
I felt wrong.
I just wanted to lay down.
You told me I was welcome
in your home
You said that I was safe
with you around.
You told me this was okay
you would stay out my way
drive me home later that day.
I didn’t feel right.
lying across your bed
my swirling head
felt filled with lead
someone getting on the bed
arms pinned above my head
against my will.
every single thing you took from me.
You hurt me.
And while you were brutalizing me
told me how deep
As if I didn’t know
As if I couldn’t feel every inch
of your intrustion
in to MY soul.
I was hot
Crying myself to sleep
locked in your bathroom
on the floor
the cold tile reminding me
I was alive.
and although I didn’t believe it at the time
I would be alright.
16 years later
I remember it all.
Good morning folks.
It’s about 9:30 on Monday morning. I had a really good weekend with my princess. Saturday we went to my cousin’s 25th birthday party at her house in Connecticut. It was awesome watching Nia running around playing with her cousins. It was wonderful seeing Desi in HER home, surrounded by her friends and family. Her happy is contagious and as usual she makes me want to burst with pride.
Sunday Nia and I spent some time at the Central Park Zoo. Boy was THAT an adventure! LOL I took her by train. If you are a native New Yorker you are already laughing at me. See, weekends is when the MTA does their work on train lines so trains will miss entire portions of their routes, while the work is being done. For a Mom, alone with an almost two year old, this means climbing up the steps to the train, riding the train for two stops, climbing down the steps from the train station to a bus stop where they try to pack the capacity of an entire train in to the much smaller city buses. Luckily, we got a seat. But I felt like several people (and their luggage) were sharing my lap with my toddler. A few blocks later you get to fight your way off of the bus and back down the steps in to the train station. Of course Nia fell asleep as soon as we got on the first train so I now had the pleasure of carrying…(Strollers are for the weak or the smart-I’m not sure HOW that goes.)… a knocked out girl child up and down all of these steps in the sweaty train station and then WALKING from 59th and Lexington to the zoo entrance. Lord knows I have never wanted my child to wake up more than I did on that walk. LOL
But, we made it to the zoo and she was still sleeping so I sat on a bench in the zoo and waited for her to wake up. As soon as she heard some children’s voices she was up and ready to explore. We tore that zoo up and aside from my phone dying and a missed connection with an out of town friend it was an AWESOME day! I delivered her to my Mom and Dad for their weekly sleep over sleepy, full, happy and ready for quality time.
All in all it was a good weekend!
This weekend I did a lot of thinking about my life. I have been pretty hard on myself lately. I feel out of sorts. I feel like my life should be in much more order than it is. This weekend I realized (again) that I am wasting my todays stressing and it’s really silly. My life is what it is. I mean any life is what it is. You only get a certain amount of days and what you choose to do with them is up to you. I made a commitment to make better use of my days instead of worrying them away. I have a beautiful life and I should start acting like it. I need to stop waiting for the time when all my ducks line up and quack in sync and just enjoy the slightly out of tune symphony that I have.
Happy Monday everyone!!!
Welcome. I’m so glad to see you. Please make yourselves comfortable. Please excuse my appearance as I am just getting set up over here. I have a bunch of blogs floating around cyberspace but I haven’t committed to blogging in one place since MySpace. I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss the comments. I miss reading other blogs. MySpace made it so easy. I built some of the most important friendships in my life through that site’s blogs. sighs Oh the good old days!
Lately I feel like words are oozing out of my brain and I desperately want to catch them. I haven’t really committed to writing on a regular basis for a long time. I’m hoping that WordPress will be the right place and my new home.
I don’t really anticipate any strangers reading this. LOL I’m kinda thinking it will be a diary for a while with just me and the tumbleweeds. So I’ll spend some time decorating and exploring my new blog home. Anyone who knows me knows that I am no techie so that might take a while. LOL
Honestly my writing has been put on a total back burner since I had Nia. I waited a long time to have a baby so the past 22 months have been all about being Mommy. I love my new role. I love my kid. She’s seriously the best thing that ever came out of me. Ba-dum-bump Giggles But now I’m struggling to find a balance between Mommy and Dana. I’m struggling to find a way to honor the things that feed my soul while Mommying. Logically I know this will make me a better Mommy, but I haven’t quite figured out how this works practically. I’m sure I will write a lot about that here.
I’m also a poet. I love writing. I love performing. I love collaborating with other poets. I love listening to and reading other poets. Poetry has saved my life numerous times and in numerous ways. I miss writing for hours. That NEVER happens with a toddler around.
I think I’m done babbling for today. 🙂