Sunday, July 14, 2013

0 Problematize Your Justice, A Cry from a War Zone. #RIPTrayvon

“We should be able to save each other. /I don’t want to wait for the Heritage Foundation/to release a study saying/Black people are extinct.”

- Essex Hemphill in “For My Own Protection”

Less than a week after my birth, in black neighborhoods across Los Angeles, riot sprang forth in retaliation to the acquittal of the police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a local Black man pulled over for speeding. His beating, caught on film and released virally, incited rage and reminded Black bodies that we were under attack by police and other systems of “justice”. I was born into riot and defense. I was born into a war on Black bodies.
Trayvon was born into that same war. Raised by a father and a mother who were, and today are still, living through that war. Trayvon was a victim of his birth, of his life, of his home. He is, and was a victim of the profiling that has lingered since our bodies were abducted and delivered to America. He was a victim of the terror Emmett Till, James Byrd Jr. and countless other bodies of color carry.
 Bodies of Color in America, do not for a moment believe you are safe, or free, from this war. If unarmed, college-bound bodies, are unsafe do you believe you are? When LeVar Burton has prepared intricate ritual for avoiding profiling, do you believe you are safe? No matter your class, or wealth, or status, when in doubt America will remind you, that you are a nigger. Your body carries terrors, seen and unseen. You were born into a war. And no “justice” shall be afforded you.
Me, 15 years old, Visiting Boston Tufts for the first time, wearing my favorite hoodie

Yet, for but a moment, let us consider “justice”.  If we dare remove the nuances of profiling race and class, a grown man killed an unarmed child and is free? In what nation could the deadly assault on an unarmed person be seen as “not guilty” by law? Before we complicate and truly analyze the problems of race and the terror it holds, as people can we allow for the slaughter of a human life? Zimmerman’s injuries are insignificant in comparison to death. His “defensive” wounds are minute in comparison to death. Trayvon Martin is dead. His blood on grassy leaves, in Floridian suburb. In what way is defending yourself against a child warranting death? In the same state, a Black woman fired warning shots (hurting no one, nor placing anyone in danger) against her abusive husband, is going to jail for 20 years. Defense is an argument, but who is privy to those defenses.
This line of confusion, though, is still secondary to ultimately sickening and gripping idea that simply being Black, being a body of color is a crime punishable by death. Trayvon echoes the lived experience of countless Black youth. Black boys walking home with candy and cool drinks. Trayvon’s crime is one that I commit walking home from work every day. That my cousins, uncles, brothers, friends, and lovers all commit simply returning home. We live in America while Black. We carry terrors we cannot placate or remove with wealth or education. We, walking through war-zones against ourselves and our sisters and family, commit the crime of being. The condemnation of Blackness has created this crime, this war, and this land in which “justice” prevails.
I am writing to you from a war zone. I am living to you from a war zone. There are faces and bodies like mine living in, through, and because of this war. From non-profits to corporations, from streets to Supreme Courts. The war is real. The terror is real. I was born into riot, but I live in a war.
My call to action is simple; problematize our “justice” system. Blaming Whites, or the South, or the Women of the jury, is basic and unfruitful. The master’s tools have been at work here. We need to address the criminalization of blackness, of youth. The tools that allow for murder to be justice. The tools that give “doubt” to the death of a child. As a nation, as a people we must problematize freedom. Our nation is not ours. It is yours. You, who will never know the trauma of being a nigger,. You, who never know the trauma of slut,. You, know never know the trauma of being a faggot. Justice is yours, only yours until you pathologize your nation. Tonight, the “justice” system reminded us who justice is for, where the lines in the sand are drawn, and whose lives are important. Problematize your conception of “justice” America. Until you do, I will live and die in war.

Rest in Peace Emmett Till. Rest in Peace Trayvon Martin. Rest in Peace James Byrd Jr. Rest in Peace Unnamed Bodies of Color. Rest in Peace Wombs of Color.


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