America,  Black people in America,  human rights,  Uncategorized

When did you become radicalized?

A Self-Reflection Exercise.

 

radical
1: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: such as
a: of or growing from the root of a plant
b: designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue

2: of or relating to the origin
3a: very different from the usual or traditional
b: favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c: associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change

When did your radicalization begin?
December 2014, following a series of non-indictments of police officers and white-thinking people who killed Black men and boys. Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice were the straws that broke me open.

Where were you radicalized?
Freddie Gray. New York, NY, April 2015. On a Union Square to Times Square march route decrying the murder of Freddie Gray who was illegally pursued and arrested with force. My second march. Before then, I believed the news reports depicting protester violence. Being a crowd of a permitted demonstration that was attacked by police before we even began marching was an eye-opener. In America’s strong-hold of freedom, independence and self-expression – New York City – no less. It was astounding. And the media reported none of aggressive police tactics from that night.

How were you radicalized?
Watching police push the crowd around, listening to them curse at us. Learning that they were trying to separate people from the crowd to do harm. Knowing they were armed and the crowd was not. Free speech didn’t feel like free speech. The right to protest didn’t feel like a right. They treated it like a challenge.

Do you know you’re radical?
Yes, I know now. I want to scrap the whole country and begin from scratch. Burn it all down. Beginning with the Constitution and every law based on it. We continue to operate from fruit from a rotten tree and wonder why we can’t move forward. We need to start over with voices from every demographic in this country contributing to our democracy or whatever governing society we collectively agree upon.

When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
Sandra Bland. Houston, TX, July, 2015. Everything about her is me. I do solo road trips. I’ve been followed by police cars in isolated and unknown areas and didn’t want to stop. I’ve traveled for new opportunities and fresh starts. I know my rights. I am a Black Woman who speaks her mind and will tell you what you can do with your false superiority. Sandra was like seeing myself in the aftermath of my own murder. Seeing how she was attacked, killed and then labeled as a suicide simply because someone wanted to feel superior and others didn’t speak up to check him.

When did you become unapologetic?
Chikesia Clemons. Saraland, AL, 2018. She wasn’t killed but she was brutalized and violated in a public space because she asked for utensils at a restaurant she had just paid for food in. Police were called. Two male officers threw her to the ground, tossed her around like a rag doll, exposing her breasts, then flipped her face down to cuff her. Bare breasts and face to the floor. Everyone in the restaurant continued to eat as if nothing egregious was happening. That stunned me. People wouldn’t have sat around if a white woman was being abused like Chikesia was in that restaurant. It’s one thing to see something and not say something. It’s a whole next level of denial to see something, turn your back on it and continue to act as if that something isn’t happening.

Chikesia was my catalyst to begin working on I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America, an upcoming photo essay book sharing who we are in our own words.

When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
Pamela Turner. Houston, TX, May, 2019. She cried out for mercy for her unborn child. She was shot and killed anyway by a Latino police officer. Whether or not she was pregnant is irrelevant. In that moment she was reaching for a humanizing drop of mercy from her killer. The depraved indifference of the officer who shot her five times proved an alarming lack of humanity in him.

When did you acknowledge your trauma?
Me. Tucson, AZ, March, 2020. When my neighbors threatened me through a houseguest by warning them that “neighbors were discussing throwing rocks through my windows and burning down my home” because they didn’t like the fact that I had added a backyard studio to my property with upscale landscaping and stone walkways. They didn’t like that I was using my home as an Airbnb. So they threatened to burn me out, destroy my home and business. In my mind, my neighbors became a lynch mob. It was difficult to process how very American this interaction was. I had enough strength to get an order of protection, but afterwards, with the help of quarantine, I retreated into deep hibernation, where I essentially remain knowing there’s nowhere in this country I can go to feel safe in my home.

When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
Walter Scott. North Charleston, SC, April 2015 was running away when he was shot in the back by a police officer who tried to claim he feared for his life. All caught on tape by a neighbor from their yard. Walter Scott’s killer was charged with murder and sentenced to twenty-years. Very grateful for the video.

When did you acknowledge your rage?
Eric Garner. Staten Island, NY, December 2014 when I began to understand that the media deflected from the murder of Black People by bringing up property during times of protest. How the fuck are property rights in the same discussion with the right to breathe?

When did you acknowledge your grief?
George Floyd. Minneapolis, MN, May, 2020. I had no more words. I didn’t speak for several days. I didn’t want to speak. I couldn’t put my finger on my exact feelings, but I knew I was overwhelmed. When I was ready to communicate, my first three words were GRIEF, RAGE, TRAUMA. My rage is too much to confront and embrace directly. My trauma reaches back through centuries of dehumanizing brutality for hundreds of millions of ancestors. My grief cries out from the first betrayal of brotherhood to the abduction and transportation by violent co-conspirators to the most racist “post-racial” society any one could have imagined.


When did you become radicalized? (Feel free to answer in the comments.)

When did your radicalization begin?
Where were you radicalized?
How were you radicalized?
Do you know you’re radical?
When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
When did you become unapologetic?
When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
When did you acknowledge your trauma?
When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
When did you acknowledge your rage?
When did you acknowledge your grief?

 

 

#tamirrice #michaelbrown #ericgarner #sandrabland #chikesiaclemons #pamelaturner #walterscott #georgefloyd #breyonnataylor #ahmaudarbery #blacklivesmatter #icantbreathe #policebrutality #statesanctionedmurder #stopkillingus #righttolife #humanrights #whenwereyouradicalized

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