"People find a sense of being, a sense of worth and substance being associated with land. Association with final roots gives us not only a history but proclaims us heirs to a future." -- Haki R. Madhubuti
BLACK LIVES HAVE, DO, AND WILL ALWAYS MATTER
Before we stepped onto the shores of a struggling band of colonies, African people built pyramids, practiced regenerative agriculture, mapped the stars and navigated the oceans.
The subsequent enslavement of millions of African people will never invalidate our value or relentless contributions to the world despite ongoing obstacles and brutality. It speaks more to the alarmingly lack of humanity, respect, compassion and decency of other groups. My grandparents settled in Paris, Texas, after leaving Wedowee, Alabama, to work and subsequently own a farm where cotton was grown, harvested and sold. The story of Paris, Texas is the story of many southern towns permeated with lynchings, and violence against men, women and children. My uncle, Essex Reese, recounted the lynching to a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, "The white doctors and lawyers could have stopped the lynchings, but they didn't do anything,".
Now we have smartphones, cameras, videos and citizen journalists. Scrolling through Twitter, recently I read a post from Attorney Benjamin Crump asking users to share the name of a Black man lying on the ground with a cop kneeling on his neck as another cop watched. Sometimes your brain just can't process certain visual images ( lying eyes) but it slowly became clear , before the video ended, that this was a lynching.Captured on a smartphone in realtime.
Four Minnesota police officers lynched George Floyd, nonchalantly, indifferent, with their hands in their pockets in front of bystanders that were filming the entire tragedy. Not one member worried about possible administrative or judicial consequences because....American judicial system.
I could not and will not watch the entire video ,which should come with a trigger warning, and only be used in court proceedings.A video that shocked the nation, temporarily. The video is now widely circulated and added to the growing volume of trauma porn that precedes the hashtag of the names of innocent Black women, men and children targeted, brutalized and murdered in America at the hands and knees of the police.
George Floyd was a father, son, brother, uncle, Houston native, former student of Jack Yates High School and member of the Screwed Up Clip, a Houston hip-hop collective founded by DJ Screw. He was a man that should be alive today. He will be remembered by some because of the actions of four members of the Minneapolis Police Department but for his family and friends, he was a loving and gentle giant .
Since 1619, Black lives have built this country from the ground up one plant, one brick, one invention at a time. The very soil that feeds us was first toiled by Native Americans and then, Africans enslaved in the American colonies. The generational wealth that ensued from our labor failed to reach generations of Black families, and in spite of this, built Black Wall Street, and many communities populated by Black owned businesses, buildings and organizations. Institutions that were torched and burned to the ground in Tulsa, Oklahoma and other cities .
The very wall in Wall Street was built by Black people, brick by brick.The same Wall Street that exploited the labor of the enslaved, funded the expansion of southern plantations and continues to fund the American economy.
Protests and marches continue to push this country forward to value and respect Black lives. As in the past freedom fights, protestors are met with armed forces intent on harm instead of help and fear instead of freedom. In this moment, like in the 1960's, young people are at the forefront of a movement to ensure that Black Lives Matter in theory and practice, in public and in private and in every room, including courtrooms.
And in voting booths. November is coming. Police reform has to follow. Performative solidarity on social media by elected officials follows a historical pattern that attempts to delay progress with advisory commissions and working groups while police budgets expand to further their militarization and compensate victims of police violence with taxpayer dollars.
It is time to reform, rebuild and reconstruct a country that delivers on its promises for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it's time for the proverbial and literal 40 Acres and ideally, a tractor. Black farmers have a role to play in rebuilding the health of food insecure communities now swamped with fast food establishments that undermine the health of its' residents. To fulfill that goal, America must compensate the Black farmers that were denied USDA loans and forced into bankruptcy.
Black Lives Always Mattered.
“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want the rain without thunder and lightning,They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglas