Black people

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My Confession

Published December 29, 2015 by hrhdana

When I heard about Tamir getting murdered my first thought was,
“What Black parent lets their little boy play with a toy gun outside?”
I am ashamed of that thought.
I have held it inside for over a year now.
Afraid to admit it out loud.

I am well trained in the ways of my birthplace.
America.
There are places inside of me that are well colonized.
Black children can’t be children
if we want them to live.

Black parents can’t let them play outside with toy guns
these babies are already wrapped in that scary melanin.
I blamed his parents.
It didn’t last long.

The facts were clear even BEFORE the video was released.
He was a boy, playing with a toy.
And even if he wasn’t
Ohio is an open carry state.
He was breaking no laws.

American boys have played with guns since there were guns.
Playing grown up games with a childhood spin…
pretending…
to shoot the bad guys
or be the bad guys.
It’s as American as apple pie
to see a little one pretending to shoot.

We play along.
We clutch our chests.
You.got.me.
We pretend to die
dramatically.
Neglecting
to tell them
that this play
is not for them.

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Not for Americans
with melanin.
One more American experience denied
You can not play like your friends.
You can not be rude.
You can not talk back.
You can not stand up.
You can not be 12 years old
in a public park
playing with a toy
found in most homes in America.

And if you do.
If you dare to be
an American boy
playing with a common toy
you will be murdered.
Your family will be denied justice.

You will bleed and scream and cry alone
for FOUR agonizing minutes.
Your big sister 2 years older than you
will be tackled to the ground,
handcuffed and placed in a police car
for trying to hold you
for fighting to get to you
for responding to your pain.

Tamir, little brother.
We failed you.
And I blamed you.
I blamed your parents.
I am ashamed.
Well trained.
Complicit in my own inequality.
Participating.
Acknowledging.
Supporting
that OUR children
should be denied parts of the American dream
because we want them to live.

And sorry
is bullshit!
Doesn’t begin to cover it.

I want MY little girl
to be free
but even more
I want her to be
alive.

So I sit
sick
complicit
indicting myself
serving time
reading books
searching for answers.

I wipe tears I didn’t know were falling.
Tamir, Mother Samaria I have no words.
I offer
my heart,
my confession,
sincere blessings.
And I promise
I will never stop speaking his name.
And I will honor his memory all of my days.

He was murdered.
His murderer is free.
No indictment from the grand jury.
Hard to speak.

Black lives matter
in more than theory.

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Hold my breath

Published August 26, 2015 by hrhdana

Sometimes I hold my breath

heart racing

watching my little girl

be free in the world.

And I wish I could remember

a time when I was.

And I wonder when

will it happen to her?

The first time

someone gives her the stank eye

for nothing more than her melanin.

It will happen.

I hold my breath

I wonder when?

When?

Ntozake said it best in For Colored Girls,

“Ever since I realized there was someone called a colored girl,

or an evil woman, a bitch, or a nag,

I’ve been trying not to be that,

and leave bitterness in someone else’s cup.”

But lately even sweet tea

tastes like bitterness to me.

I’m hurting.

Agony.

And I’m at a complete loss

on how to build my

beautiful,

confident,

smart,

amazing,

sensitive

little girl

strong enough that she can’t be broken

but not too strong

that her very existence is a challenge

to those who would

murder her

with impunity.

It’s a conundrum with no solution I can see.

And I can’t even exhale fully.

I can’t breathe

Sometimes I hold my breath.

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She holds my hand

Published August 11, 2015 by hrhdana

We walk to the bus every morning.

Monday through Friday.

I am so lucky.

She holds my hand.

Sometimes

proudly

fiercely

reverently

lovingly.

She clings to me.

When something catches her eye

a spiderweb,

a beautiful flower,

or even a

a beetle

she lets go.

Runs to explore.

Her face lights up.

3 year old exclaiming

MOMMY LOOK AT THIS!!!

And I look.

When she is ready to go again

she reaches for my hand.

I am lucky.

Today my right hip is wet.

It’s raining.

Her umbrella comes right up to my hip.

And even though she was holding it

tightly

excitedly

She had to hold my hand

TOO.

She holds my hand.

Her umbrella bumps against my hip,

It’s wet.

I don’t complain.

Grounded in the moments where

she holds my hand

as if there were no other way to

walk down the street.

She holds my hand.

And even with my wet hip.

I smile big.

She holds my hand.

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Warrior Women

Published August 10, 2015 by hrhdana

“I just don’t believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.”
Malcolm X

On Saturday Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford interrupted Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle. As he prepared to take the mic the women jumped on the stage and demanded the right to speak. Sanders ceded the stage to the women. Marissa went on to give a passionate speech about the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she wanted to talk about how racist Seattle is but some in the crowd had already done that for her with their jeers and screams of, “arrest them.” Really? Arrest them?!!  With EVERYTHING going on right now people actually called for the arrest of these two women for grabbing the mic at a rally. Arrest them? How positively clueless.

I watched the internet explode. A day that was supposed to be filled with remembrances and lessons learned from the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson was completely derailed by a bevy of clueless allies who didn’t get it and a gaggle of scared Black people who wanted these women to be more polite. There were copious tears for Bernie. “He’s been so good to us.” “He is the only candidate who cares about us and our issues.” “Why attack an ally?” And my personal favorite, “Bernie must have been so frightened. It was like an assault.”

housewives-roll

Here’s my take on things..
Bernie is the one constantly mentioning how he has fought for civil rights all of his life. I mean seriously, it should be part of his name if we counted the frequency with which he and his supporters use this as his claim to fame. The REASON Black people should vote for Bernie is that he cares about “our” issues. If this is true then he wouldn’t be so caught off guard by the passion in the two interruptions he has experienced. Sanders responded that he was, “especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no candidate who will fight harder than me.” (Quoted from here)

How can you fight when you won’t listen? How can you fight if you don’t understand the passion and yes the ANGER that we are feeling in this exact moment in time? An ally amplifies the voices of the people they are supporting. An ally uses their privilege to make sure that the voices of the people they are standing with are heard loud and clear. An ally is supposed to be a bridge to others who do NOT understand. Those people were there to hear Bernie. He could have done a number of things to earn his status as an ally. He did none. He ceded the stage. He didn’t share it.

Sanders wants us to see him as a civil rights warrior but war isn’t polite. We are fighting for our lives. If you want to appeal to us as a voting block by using your record as a civil rights crusader then you should not be this tone deaf. You should not be this divorced from the emotion propelling this fight to every stage in America. You should not run. You should not wag your finger. You should not expect us to be composed when we are being murdered in the streets. You should understand that there are a gamut of responses to injustice and not all of them are polite.

To those of you wondering why these women choose Sanders and not some other candidate I can’t answer with certainty. No one has interviewed these women. Shit, just finding their names was a struggle. I’d imagine it was because HE was in Seattle. It’s probably because he CLAIMS to be down with us. I’d posit it’s because they thought he would listen and care. I’d think it’s because he is being touted as an ally. But their reasons don’t even matter to me. Sanders is not my savior. He is a man running for the office of president in a country currently experiencing an internal conflict of epic proportions. He is the candidate everyone keeps telling us Black people is our best choice. He is the candidate who keeps highlighting his work on civil rights like a line on his resume.

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Listen folks, I know Black anger is scary to a bunch of people. Shit, even some Black people are uncomfortable with it. I listen to our young people. A huge segement of them are FED up. They are angry. They are TIRED of asking politely for people to stop murdering us with impunity. They are tired of wondering who is going to be the next hashtag and they are ready to tear shit up. I worry for them. What I will not do is silence them. What I will not do is judge them. What I will not do is tell them to be safe. NONE of us are safe right now and we all know it. Respectability politics is bullshit.

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Yesterday I saw so many white people claim they would no longer support Black Lives Matter because they were disgusted by the behavior of TWO Black women. Listen, if that was all it took to take you out of the fight for Black lives then you were never in it. You were NEVER with us. Yesterday I saw some Black people use words like “embarrassed” to express their feelings about these two women’s refusal to be silenced. If you are Black and you were embarrassed by two women willing to put their necks on the line to get a message to power I honestly have no clue what to even do with you. Do you honestly believe that Sanders is going to be our savior? Do you honestly believe that we should be GRATEFUL to those in power who pay lip service to believing that our LIVES actually fucking matter? Do you believe that so called allies using our fucking civil rights struggle as a resume entry don’t have to DO anything else? Man listen, all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk!

Oh and for those of you lamenting that, this is NOT the way to get change or to get a candidate to listen to your concerns…

This was Bernie Sanders’ website BEFORE Marissa and Mara stormed the stage.

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And this is what it looked like after they spoke truth to power.

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Here’s to warrior women. May we love them. May we support them. May we raise them. May we BE them!

Any war has to be fought on multiple fronts. These women chose theirs. Where and how are YOU fighting?

I’m not okay! I shouldn’t be. Neither should you.

Published July 29, 2015 by hrhdana

Today I posted a plea on my Facebook page. I would quote it here but I had to log off for my own sanity. I begged people not to share the video that was released of Samuel Dubose’s murder with me. I implored them to please put trigger warnings and place spaces so that those of us trying desperately to practice self care would not be forced to watch it. We knew for over 24 hours that it was coming. When people started emailing me that the press conference was starting I literally felt my heart racing, my palms sweating and the tears forming in my eyes. I can not handle this today.

See, I am a writer and a reader. When I read someone’s words my mind makes pictures. I already knew all of the details of Samuel’s murder from the written reports. I already knew. I already saw it. But imagination and reality are opposites. I did not want to SEE this man murdered. I have no space in my spirit for another murder. I have no room in my spirit. I have to maintain my sanity.

I wrote the post. People shared it. People expressed their similar feelings. Then, it happened. I was scrolling down my timeline and before I realized what I was seeing there it was. Murder. In front of my eyes. Straight through my gut. My heart shattered. I fumbled with my mouse trying desperately to scroll past it. My mouse seemed to be made of some slippery substance. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t see through my tears. A visceral reaction.

I logged out, heart racing, tears flowing. I ran to the bathroom and sobbed. A coworker knocked on the door. “Are you okay Dana?”

“NO! I’m not okay. I shouldn’t be. Neither should you”

How can this be life? How can this be okay? Why aren’t we ALL raging in the streets?

He was the father of 10. He had 4 grandchildren. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. He was loved.

He was murdered.

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No. I’m not okay. And you shouldn’t be either.

If I am ever taken in to police custody…

Published July 22, 2015 by hrhdana

If I am ever taken in to police custody know that…

I will not kill myself.

I will not resist.

I will not reach for a weapon.

I will not fight.

I will comply.

I will fight in court

with all of the resources at my disposal.

I will have only one thought

during the course of the entire interaction

“Make it home to Nia”

And yes,

I WILL be

that docile Negro

that they want me to be.

I will yas suh and yas maam them to death.

My child is my life.

She is the future.

She is everything.

And I will choke on the shame of being a good slave

just so I can make it home to her.

Never let THEM write my narrative.

I am a MOTHER.

Nothing else matters.

Pride can take a flying leap.

I want to survive.

I will make myself small

and quiet.

I will choke on my rage.

I will comply.

And even having made this declaration

publicly

I know these actions can’t save me.

They can hashtag me

with impunity

some desk duty

paid vacation

for my blood on their hands.

There are no safe quarters for me

OR

my progeny.

If I am ever taken in to police custody

RAGE for me.

Don’t believe

the, “official story.”

My only thought

I promise you

was making it home

to my baby.

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Imagine

Published April 30, 2015 by hrhdana
Imagine
 
You are at work and you get a phone call from your 15 year old child.
“Mommy they let us out of school but there are no buses to get home. Police in riot gear are at the bus stop yelling that we need to leave. Where do I go Mommy? I’m scared.”
 
Imagine.
 
You are sitting at your desk at work when you get this call.
 
Imagine
 
You tell your child to go back inside the school. “I am coming to get you. Go inside the school and wait for me.”
 
Imagine
 
You tell your boss you have to leave. You gather your things. You run to the car that you are lucky enough to own when your phone rings again.
 
“Mommy the school won’t let me back inside. I don’t know what to do.”
 
Imagine
 
As your child cries on the phone your mind races.
“Find a store. Go in the mall. Go somewhere safe. Somewhere inside.”
 
Imagine
 
As you race towards the school your phone rings twice more with your child detailing the places she has been denied entrance. In the background you hear cops screaming, kids screaming and the sickening thud of things banging.
 
Imagine
 
When you get to the area of your child’s school you can not drive in. Streets are closed to traffic. So you park illegally and run the blocks to your child, huddled against a building with 4 of her friends. As you walk them out of the danger zone you see kids with no adult presence for them. You see cops in full riot gear. You hear helicopters. You see a kid throw a rock. You see cops throw rocks back at kids. You are stopped by a cop who wants to know where you are going with these kids.
 
Imagine.
 
You finally get home. You turn on the TV to see that the situation devolved in to the mayhem you knew that it would. The children are being vilified and no one is even interested in the truth.
 
Imagine.
 
Now open your eyes to reality.  THIS HAPPENED! our country. This is what happened in Baltimore. This land is your land. This is the genesis of the “riot” that burned that beloved (sarcasm) CVS to the ground. (May it rest in peace)

This is what greeted 13 to 18 year olds who had planned a peaceful after school protest. THIS!
Protests Continue After Death Of Baltimore Man While In Police Custody


If you are not actively doing something to help you are part of the problem. Your involvement can run the spectrum from sharing truth with the misinformed to marching to letter writing to activism. Spread truth. Refuse to be steamrolled by propaganda. This is OUR country. Wake up.

Baltimore uprising.
Justice for Freddie