Archive for the ‘Black Women’ Category

Sandra Bland, 28, was stopped for an illegal lane change, pulled out of her car and thrown to the ground, arrested and three days later was dead in her jail cell, supposedly a suicide.

Sandra Bland, 28, was stopped for an illegal lane change, pulled out of her car and thrown to the ground, arrested and three days later was dead in her jail cell, supposedly a suicide.

How can I write?
How can I add my thoughts, my voice to the discourse this country must have about race and Black and White and brown folks and the miserable state of race relations and violence directed toward us when the atrocities keep coming on with the ferocity of bullets from an assault rifle? How can I propose specific actions or solutions when the atrocities keep piling up faster than I can put pencil to paper (yes, I still write that way).
I am not at a loss for words. I have plenty to say. The words are there. So many thousands of them, colliding against the walls of my skull, competing to get out that I don’t know where to start.
I don’t want to pour out my sorrow. I don’t want to fire out my rage. I want to offer constructive solutions to whatever it is that is causing so many to think it is okay to beat and kill, and taunt, disrespect and ostracize Black people.
Writing is what I do. It is how I make sense of the world but how can I make sense when there is no sense to be made? Writing is how I express the hurt, anger and frustration that builds up inside. It allows me to continue to function in this world when everything else says “all is lost”.
But how can I write?
The physical violence across our nation and the violence to my psyche, to the collective psyche, keeps coming so fast I can’t breathe. My heart hurts and my brain feels ready to explode.

Michael Brown, 18,vFerguson MO
Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, OH
Eric Garner, 43, New York
Freddie Gray, 25, Baltimore MD
Walter Scott, 50, Charleston SC
Rekia Boyd, 22, Chicago, IL
John Crawford, 22, Cleveland OH
These names are spoken so often by so many that they are almost as if a prayer. They did nothing to deserve their deaths. Why G-d? Please G-d, no more. But there are always more. If not at the hands of the police, then at those of deranged vigilantes or avowed racists.
Susie Jackson, 87
The Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74
Ethel Lance, 70
Myra Thompson, 59
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49
The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45
The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Tywanza Sanders, 26
The confessed assassin allegedly told the congregants, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country,” before shooting them. Can somebody, anybody tell me the last time you heard of a 70- or 80-year-old Black woman or even a 74-year-old Black man raping anybody?
I’d ask who goes into churches and murders people in a house of G-d but I’ve seen it happen before in my lifetime. The cold-blooded murder of nine praying souls is not unthinkable in a country that still lives in the dust from the explosion that took the lives of four little girls in the basement of a Birmingham church basement during the 1960s civil rights era.
Addie Mae Collins, 14
Denise McNair, 11
Carole Robertson, 14
Cynthia Wesley, 14
Every time I sit down to try to write there is another incident and the issue I meant to address fades into the background. I had no sooner sat down to write about a New Orleans police officer who struck a 16-year-old girl in a detention center with a set of four-point restraints when another video pops up. In this one more than 20 Philadelphia cops kicked and beat Tyree Carroll, a 22-year-old Black male, calling him a “piece of shit.” The cops originally stopped him for riding his bicycle the wrong way down a one way street.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150708_Video_shows_cops_beating_E__Germantown_man_during_arrest.html?c=r
The police department said officers had probable cause to charge him with assault and said that he deliberately injured himself by hitting his head against the protective shield in the police vehicle after he was arrested for drug possession. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/10/20-philly-cops-beat-him-blame-him-for-injuries-and-charge-him-with-assault.html
Just this this week, as I put the finishing touches on this piece, a family has accused a Mississippi police officer of choking an unarmed Black man to death with a flashlight. An attorney states that the officer pulled 39-year-old Jonathan Sanders from a horse he was exercising in Stonewall and a struggle ensued. The family and the police differ on the details of what actually happened and, so far, there doesn’t appear to be video evidence of what occurred. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/10/mississippi-death-unarmed-black-man-jonathan-sanders?CMP=fb_tc
Just this week, in Cobb County, GA a grand jury declined to indict a police officer who shot an unarmed Black man in the back purportedly while he was driving toward them. Officers were tried to serve warrants to Nicholas Thomas, 23, who apparently attempted to flee but was blocked by police cars. http://www.cbs46.com/story/29511972/grand-jury-finds-smyrna-officer-justified-in-nicholas-thomas-shooting, http://rt.com/usa/272884-police-atlanta-shooting-law/
The Guardian newspaper predicts that 1,100 people will die at the hands of the police this year, based on an average of three people a day killed through the end of June or 547 people. The Guardian’s project, The Counted, found that Black people are being killed at twice the rate of White or Latino people. Black people are also more likely to be unarmed when they are killed.
These stats don’t even include the beatings and shootings that don’t end in death.
So here’s the thing. I don’t want to have to commit anymore names to memory. So could you stop? Please stop. If you can’t stop could you just slow down a little?
‘Cause I feel the need to write.

Note: I meant to end this with the paragraph above. But before I could finish editing and finalizing the art to go with this piece more than a half dozen more incidents have made their way into the news. Among them: Sandra Bland, 28, reportedly pulled over in Waller County, Texas, on Friday for improperly signaling a lane change and pulled from her car and thrown to the ground hitting her head. She was arrested for assaulting an officer and found dead in her cell Monday, according to the sheriff by suicide. A video was released and posted of a Gardena, CA police shooting of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, an innocent unarmed man suspected of stealing a bike. Jonathan Sanders, 39, according to attorneys died “through homicide by manual asphyxiation” when a police officer reportedly applied a chokehold for 20 minutes after Mr. Sanders questioned the officer’s handling of another suspect.

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I step into the subway car.
A young man with headphones enters the doors to my left and sits just down the way across the aisle. Other than the two of us and a couple of loose tabloid sheets the car is empty.
I sit down and pull out my cell phone to text my daughter whom I’m meeting in a couple of stops to continue uptown for lunch.
“I never did figure out which is least”
Darn autocorrect.
“last”
We had arranged to meet on the last car of the train but I, being basically a Kansas tourist and unfamiliar with the ways of New York trains, wasn’t sure I could tell which end was front when I couldn’t see a big red engine car. As it turned out I could.
“Think I’m on it”
As I reach to put my phone back in to my pocket a man and a boy, maybe 12 or 13, enters at the other end of the car. The man is talking loudly, not an unusual event in New York City. I try to ignore him. He amps up his “talking”.
“Son, let me tell you about the niggers!”
“My heart is beating. I know this because I hear it. I feel it. I am aware of it.
What seconds ago was simply a ride to a pleasant luncheon outing with my daughter, son-in-law and infant grandson has suddenly turned into a risk assessment. Is this loud-mouthed bigot likely to harm me? I casually glance at earphone guy who is between me and the loud mouth and he seems oblivious to what is being said.
Not wanting to give the speaker any satisfaction of knowing I hear him and not wanting to be the cause of a physical confrontation I surreptitiously look toward the man. The old man, probably actually only 60 or 50 even, hocks up a giant white ball of spit, opens the doors between the cars and spews it out. The boy seems disinterested in what the man is saying.
The train, which has been sitting at the station, starts moving toward our destination. I decide the man poses no immediate physical threat.
He gets louder.
“Come here my boy. You’re too far away. Sit over here. I want to tell you about the fuckin’ Jews.”
At this I flat-out look up. The boy was sitting across the doorway from the man but got up and moved to the seat across the aisle upon the man’s command. He still seemed unmoved by the man’s words; almost resigned.
It’s obviously a show. The boy is right there.
The man shouts.
“The fuckin’ Jews are dirty!
“The fuckin’ Jews are shifty!”
About now I’m wondering how Mr. Loudmouth would react to knowing he’d offended both groups in my one little package. Would he be pleased?
I think about confronting him but what would I say?
“Hi, I’m a Fuckin’ Nigger Jew, please quiet down you’re offending me?”
He goes on and on about the Niggers and the Jews as I reach my stop and I casually get up to exit. I will not let him know that he has made me uncomfortable.
I gently guide my family away from the doors saying we can’t stay on this car. We move to a more amiable compartment where they smile at babies and largely stay silent.
I go on about my business and he about his.
To New Yorkers maybe this is just a case of one disturbed person in a city full of them; a minor incident not worth even registering. To me it’s an example of the minefields I may have to negotiate anytime I leave my home, no matter the city.
Some White people – not all or maybe even most – want to believe that this could be one big happy country if Black people would stop trying to make everything about race. Why do Black people always have to make it about race?
We don’t. We wish we could stop looking over our shoulders, wondering whether some guy means to harm us. Whether the guy trying so hard to impress someone on a train is going to whip out a weapon or something to back up his ignorance. It would be nice to believe that bigotry doesn’t exist anymore in America. It would be nice to be the young, White guy with the headphones who can share the same car with the raging bigot and remain clueless and unaffected. But if you’re the African-American woman riding in that car, if you’re me, it’s not that easy. As a Black woman I cannot ignore the words of crazed White men around me because history and recent events tell me that I could be attacked and I might not be able to count on anyone around me — including the authorities — to come to my aid.
As much as I’d like to believe that the world is a wonderful safe place where everyone loves me or, at the very least, tolerates my presence, it seems there is always someone waiting there to remind me that we haven’t yet reached that racial Utopia so many White folks want to believe in.