Where There Is No Law

by Jordan Charlton
special to The Dreher Report

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Where there is no law …
There is no need for cellphone video
There is no need for validation
There is no need for three officers
There is no need for an autopsy
There is no need for third degree
There is no need for nationwide riots
There is no need for boarded up windows
There is no need for a state of emergency
There is no need for buildings to be protected
There is no need for clouds of tear gas
There is no need for rubber bullets
There is no need for the national guard
There is no need for military presence
There is no need for all these speeches
There is no need for getting back to normal
There is no need for any memory of normal
There is no need for a right way to do or feel
There is no need for making anything of this country
There is no need for a knee on a person’s neck

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMJordan Charlton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a member of the 2020 graduating class, having received his Masters of Arts, with a specialty in Creative Writing. He composed “Where There Is No Law” after Trump’s press conference held on Monday, June 1. “The title comes from one line of his speech where he states, ‘Where there is no law, there is no justice’, says Jordan, “I wrote this poem in jest to the idea that ‘law’ must be the supreme thing we are governed by, especially when we (or at least those in elected power of the people) refuse to acknowledge that this law and its protections do not hold true for everyone.”

No Struggle … No Progress

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Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-1895)

“West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, 1857

by Frederick Douglass
special to The Dreher Report

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMThe general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up. It is useless and cruel to put a man on his legs, if the next moment his head is to be brought against a curbstone.

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

A man of that type will never lay the world under any obligation to him, but will be a moral pauper, a drag on the wheels of society, and if he too be identified with a peculiar variety of the race he will entail disgrace upon his race as well as upon himself. The world in which we live is very accommodating to all sorts of people. It will cooperate with them in any measure which they propose; it will help those who earnestly help themselves, and will hinder those who hinder themselves. It is very polite, and never offers its services unasked. Its favors to individuals are measured by an unerring principle in this—viz., respect those who respect themselves, and despise those who despise themselves. It is not within the power of unaided human nature to persevere in pitying a people who are insensible to their own wrongs and indifferent to the attainment of their own rights. The poet was as true to common sense as to poetry when he said,

Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.

When O’Connell, with all Ireland at his back, was supposed to be contending for the just rights and liberties of Ireland, the sympathies of mankind were with him, and even his enemies were compelled to respect his patriotism. Kossuth, fighting for Hungary with his pen long after she had fallen by the sword, commanded the sympathy and support of the liberal world till his own hopes died out. The Turks, while they fought bravely for themselves and scourged and drove back the invading legions of Russia, shared the admiration of mankind. They were standing up for their own rights against an arrogant and powerful enemy; but as soon as they let out their fighting to the Allies, admiration gave way to contempt. These are not the maxims and teachings of a coldhearted world. Christianity itself teaches that man shall provide for his own house. This covers the whole ground of nations as well as individuals. Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations. In the great struggle now progressing for the freedom and elevation of our people, we should be found at work with all our might, resolved that no man or set of men shall be more abundant in labors, according to the measure of our ability, than ourselves.

I know, my friends, that in some quarters the efforts of colored people meet with very little encouragement. We may fight, but we must fight like the Sepoys of India, under white officers. This class of Abolitionists don’t like colored celebrations, they don’t like colored conventions, they don’t like colored antislavery fairs for the support of colored newspapers. They don’t like any demonstrations whatever in which colored men take a leading part. They talk of the proud Anglo-Saxon blood as flippantly as those who profess to believe in the natural inferiority of races. Your humble speaker has been branded as an ingrate, because he has ventured to stand up on his own and to plead our common cause as a colored man, rather than as a Garrisonian. I hold it to be no part of gratitude to allow our white friends to do all the work, while we merely hold their coats. Opposition of the sort now referred to is partisan position, and we need not mind it. The white people at large will not largely be influenced by it. They will see and appreciate all honest efforts on our part to improve our condition as a people.

Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations.

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

Hence, my friends, every mother who, like Margaret Garner, plunges a knife into the bosom of her infant to save it from the hell of our Christian slavery, should be held and honored as a benefactress. Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people. The fugitive Horace, at Mechanicsburgh, Ohio, the other day, who taught the slave catchers from Kentucky that it was safer to arrest white men than to arrest him, did a most excellent service to our cause. Parker and his noble band of fifteen at Christiana, who defended themselves from the kidnappers with prayers and pistols, are entitled to the honor of making the first successful resistance to the Fugitive Slave Bill. But for that resistance, and the rescue of Jerry and Shadrack, the man hunters would have hunted our hills and valleys here with the same freedom with which they now hunt their own dismal swamps.

Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people.

There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave. Joseph Cinque, on the deck of the Amistad, did that which should make his name dear to us. He bore nature’s burning protest against slavery. Madison Washington who struck down his oppressor on the deck of the Creole, is more worthy to be remembered than the colored man who shot Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.

My friends, you will observe that I have taken a wide range, and you think it is about time that I should answer the special objection to this celebration. I think so too. This, then, is the truth concerning the inauguration of freedom in the British West Indies. Abolition was the act of the British government. The motive which led the government to act no doubt was mainly a philanthropic one, entitled to our highest admiration and gratitude. The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. “Though slaves, they were rebellious slaves.” They bore themselves well. They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression. What Wilberforce was endeavoring to win from the British senate by his magic eloquence the slaves themselves were endeavoring to gain by outbreaks and violence. The combined action of one and the other wrought out the final result. While one showed that slavery was wrong, the other showed that it was dangerous as well as wrong. Mr. Wilberforce, peace man though he was, and a model of piety, availed himself of this element to strengthen his case before the British Parliament, and warned the British government of the danger of continuing slavery in the West Indies. There is no doubt that the fear of the consequences, acting with a sense of the moral evil of slavery, led to its abolition. The spirit of freedom was abroad in the Islands. Insurrection for freedom kept the planters in a constant state of alarm and trepidation. A standing army was necessary to keep the slaves in their chains. This state of facts could not be without weight in deciding the question of freedom in these countries.

The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. […] They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression.

I am aware that the rebellious disposition of the slaves was said to arise out of the discussion which the Abolitionists were carrying on at home, and it is not necessary to refute this alleged explanation. All that I contend for is this: that the slaves of the West Indies did fight for their freedom, and that the fact of their discontent was known in England, and that it assisted in bringing about that state of public opinion which finally resulted in their emancipation. And if this be true, the objection is answered.

Again, I am aware that the insurrectionary movements of the slaves were held by many to be prejudicial to their cause. This is said now of such movements at the South. The answer is that abolition followed close on the heels of insurrection in the West Indies, and Virginia was never nearer emancipation than when General Turner kindled the fires of insurrection at Southampton.

Sir, I have now more than filled up the measure of my time. I thank you for the patient attention given to what I have had to say. I have aimed, as I said at the beginning, to express a few thoughts having some relation to the great interest of freedom both in this country and in the British West Indies, and I have said all that I mean to say, and the time will not permit me to say more.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMFrederick Douglass escaped enslavement to become a prominent abolitionist, author, and public speaker. He became a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of enslavement before and during the Civil War.

 

The Moped

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by Casey Merie
special to The Dreher Report

Casey Merie reflects on a casual afternoon experience in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.49.33 PMWhile walking with my Rocky, my 65 pound pit bull the other day, I stopped on the corner of Oak and Glenwood to allow a man on a moped to keep going after I saw he had his turn signal on; but for some odd reason, he just sat there, staring at me. I again motioned for him to go. Eventually, after a weird amount of time, instead of turning he continued straight instead, and then yelled “Fucking n*gger”. This made me wonder if he was planning to try to run me over.

It was a bizarre and scary moment for me because it happened so quickly. Usually on my walk, I encounter people on foot, and nobody on foot messes with you when you are walking a 65 pound pit bull.

I reflected on this casual afternoon.  Just who is this grungy guy zipping around on a moped? I sensed he was the type of man President Lyndon B. Johnson referred to as “the lowest white man” (probably around the time LBJ was busy calling us n*ggers too). He’s too old to be riding it for fun, I thought. Maybe he has a Johnny Reb flag hanging on his wall at home. If he voted in the last general election, it was probably for Trump. Maybe he would have hurt me, if something hadn’t told me to stay put until he passed me. He called me a n*gger.

This is the practice of white supremacy that we all know to be disgusted about.
It’s direct.
It’s abrasive.
It’s to the point.

It’s the other kind of practice of white supremacy, however, that is really scary to me right now. It’s the kind that is pervasive. Even as the tide of popular opinion turns, and people are coming out to condemn the killing of George Floyd, we still have not developed enough political power to hold the police accountable and make them face consequences regularly when they kill us.

It’s the kind of white supremacy that makes people look at our City Council’s decision to fight tooth and nail to dodge accountability for the murder of Marcus Deon Smith by the [Greensboro, North Carolina] police in 2018, and when reasonable people defend limited public resources. Smith was choked in the street by police officers who used a RIPP Hobble device–a restraint the equivalent of being hooked and hogtied. 

I am scared of the white supremacy that confuses far too many of us into thinking that representation is power.

It’s the type of white supremacy that makes it “reasonable” that when an unarmed Black man is murdered after begging for his life, “protecting the public” means saving a budget from having to shell out money to pay restitution to his family.

I am scared, too. I am scared of the white supremacy that has taken hold in so many minds–liberal and conservative–that says Black people cannot get justice if it costs money.

I am scared of the white supremacy that confuses far too many of us into thinking that representation is power. People applaud, for instance, our Black police chief who, I believe, uses his Blackness as a shield to sidestep dialogues on law enforcement oversight and police accountability in Smith’s death.

I am scared of what this will mean for the safety of the protestors on the highway who, in their righteous anger, are sick of this …

… because if the man who called me a n*gger on his moped had been a cop and had decided to escalate this situation, I know I would have gotten no justice from this city.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.49.33 PMCasey Merie lives in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro with her husband and dog. She has organized around food, immigration, policing, and against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. With roots in New York, South Carolina, Tortola, and Virginia, she made Greensboro her home in 2006. She graduated from Guilford College (BA, Sociology & Anthropology) and UNC-Greensboro (Masters in Public Health). She is the Development Manager at People’s Action, a national network of community organizations.

Uprising: A Black Birthright

by Danielle “Dani” Young
special to The Dreher Report

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMI realize this is radical but I have to speak up.

It can be a knee jerk reaction to demonize protestors who react with violence. We, as a nation, criminalize violence and romanticize non-violence. Let us remember the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Law enforcement sent dogs after men, women, and children who peacefully marched. Bloody Sunday, specifically, happened in Selma, Alabama in March 1965. During the sit-in movement of that time, white patrons poured hot coffee, and threw food and condiments on peaceful protesters who asked to be served. And they assassinated Dr. King.

Do not allow a romanticized version of the Civil Rights Movement influence your opinions of the protestors of this day.

Violence does have its place in our society. … and, whether you support it or not, you must have empathy and, more important, some understanding of what has caused violence to erupt in the first place. It must be understood that slavery never ended; it has only changed faces. It must be understood that we, as Black people were never meant to be free. For over 200 years and counting, enslavement, lynching, Jim Crow, segregation, and other forms of mental and emotional terrorism have been practiced here in the United States. Do not allow a romanticized version of the Civil Rights Movement influence your opinions of the protestors of this day. To quote the poet Nikki Giovanni:

“perhaps these are not poetic
times
at all”

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “A Riot is the language of the unheard”. Uprisings are Black people’s birthright. We have the right to demand justice in unpoetic times. Make no mistake, however, the institution of policing is working just fine. If this is confusing for you please research the origins of policing. There is plenty of information. Read “The Police were created to Control Working Class and Poor People, not ‘Serve and Protect'” by Sam Mitrani.

Protestors are loud. Hear them.

To ask a people to march quietly after watching repeatedly an unjust system’s treatment of its Black citizens is to ask someone to not cry out after you’ve hurt them. People on the ground across lines of race and nationalities, including the police, are doing the work to keep these protests peaceful in spite of the infiltration of those whose only purpose is to compromise that peace. There are people on the ground filming this movement, and the images captured on every phone’s camera are markers of these moments in history. In the words of the actor Will Smith, “Racism is not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”

Protestors are loud. Hear them. They are bold in every gesture and speech. Watch them. Their cry, however, is for the simplest of things: The right to live. The right to exist. The right to just be. Listen to them. Protect Black Lives. 

Be safe out there. Donate to bail out funds. Take care of your mental health.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMDanielle “Dani” Young is a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is passionate about social justice issues and social justice reform. A freelance photographer, she also writes in her free time.

 

@ 4:52 a.m.

by Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky
special to The Dreher Report

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMBeen up since 4:52 am. In my restlessness I was grappling with two unrelated issues–both which are sources of trauma for me. I will write about the one that has most Black people enraged, sad, exhausted, traumatized, and generally not OK.

I have to get it out.

A people can only take so much.

Some elders used to say, “It’s a wonder we didn’t burn this [insert any explicative] down” after what we went through and go through in this country. Others let us know that one day the chickens were gonna come home to roost. Others told us no justice, no peace. So much prophetic wisdom continues to be passed down to us. I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I have lived my entire life in a nation where state-sanctioned and vigilante terrorism against black folks (and other minoritized groups as well) has been the order of the day. For every decade of my life, there have been unarmed black folks murdered by police officers. White vigilantes have murdered black people who were simply going about their business–and they have celebrated for it. Growing up in Queens and Long Island, you couldn’t escape it.

I believe our ancestors foresaw this moment and many others that preceded this recent round of protests.

I will be 50 in August. That’s 50 years for me. But what about our parents, grandparents, [great grandparents], etc.? How did they survive? Some of my folks will tell you “But God.” Whatever your beliefs, something has kept us.

People ask “when is it going to end”? The truth is the powers that be, this racist country, and their acolytes don’t want it to end. If they did, they would dismantle this entire system that delights in and profits off of our death and suffering. Until that time, people will protest and it will not be (and we should not expect it to be) according to some book of “acceptable protest.”

I pray for the lives of the protesters. That’s my fear. That they will lose their lives speaking truth to power. I don’t pray for property or material things of this world. Buildings can be rebuilt or replaced. Insurance covers loss of material possessions. But LIFE. That’s priceless.Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PM

Jeannette Eileen Jones-Vazansky is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a historian of the United States, with particular emphasis in American cultural and intellectual history and African American Studies, with strong interests in race and representation, Atlantic studies, and science studies. She published In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936 in 2010. She is currently at work on her manuscript America in Africa: U.S. Empire, Race, and the African Question, 1847-1919. 

 

That Terrifying Darkness

by Dr. Stefanie K. Dunning

(special to The Dreher Report)

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Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMI was settling pretty nicely into my self-chosen cloister when the news of George Floyd’s murder came to me and then the uprisings across the country. And then, the director on Twitter that “if there is looking, there will be shooting.”

Do I need to tell adult human beings that the destruction of property isn’t violence in this case?

Do I need to say that violence is the murder of people and that murder of people is the real crisis–not what happens to some resource-depleting crap in Target that will end up in a landfill and only worsen our climate crisis?

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

I keep coming back to this quote from James Baldwin, that writer, prophet, and seer who has never left my mind and heart once I cracked open Go Tell it On the Mountain all those years ago:

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.

All of these anti-quarantine protestors are caught up in a grand and complicated projection designed to forestall awareness of the reality of death, whose imminence materialized quickly with CV-19. Denial of the dangers of CV-19 connects to the deeper aspects of this culture so obsessed with youth (evidenced by the cultures of beauty, plastic surgery, dieting, wrinkle creams, hairlessness, and so on).

Do we need a lesson in the difference between a chair and a human being?

Now, as is the American way, all of those anxieties and fears about death will be offloaded onto the necks of black people. It’s as if forcing black people to die allows their white murderers to feel more alive and more firmly rooted in life than in death. But the fact of death, regardless of your skin tone or class status or gender identity or sexuality, cannot be postponed, negotiated with, or made otherwise a reality of living.

My spiritual journey has shown me that what people do is a reflection of what they feel inside. So murderers “feel” dead and can only feel alive in the presence of an actual dead body. People who can only see criminality in another feel guilty themselves because ultimately, there are no others. Everything is a mirror.

I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death.

I have seen some racist arguments which wonder why black people don’t terrorize white people in armed militias or take up an eye-for-an-eye strategy vis-a-vis police/vigilante shootings. [My daughter] Omi was speaking to a (now former) friend of hers in Sri Lanka who told her that “black people are weak.” Many people whose consciousness is framed by anti-blackness think like this. By this logic, Jesus was weak too.

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A makeshift memorial for George Floyd near the spot where he died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

But the reason, I suspect, black people do not behave in the genocidal manner that racist and murderous white people do is because we project what is inside of us–which is life, not death. As a black person, I have no desire to kill anyone, for any reason. I am too concerned about what I would become if I did such a thing. And, I am too concerned about what I would foreclose in the life of the person I would kill. In other words, if living in this society means becoming a serial killer–I’ll fly away.

 

I’ll close with a prayer:

I pray for
the safety of
each and every one of us.

I pray that
our children
are safe.

I pray that
wisdom and insight
will rain down upon all of us and
the killing can stop.

I pray for
our collective
healing.

Love to you all.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMStefanie Kyle Dunning is Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of California, Riverside and a Ford Fellow. Her first book Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same Sex Desire and Contemporary African American Culture, was published by Indiana University Press in 2009. Her work has been published (or is forthcoming) in African American Review, MELUS, Studies In The Fantastic, and Electric Literature. and several other journals and anthologies. Her latest project, Black to Nature: Pastoral Return in African American Culture, is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi in 2021.

Black Folks Live with a Deadly Virus Everyday

Meet Guest Writer Angela Carr Patterson, Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.20.40 PMentertainment executive, entrepreneur, Innovator, CEO, Film Producer, Author, Speaker and Spiritual Thought Leader.  Angela also is the Founder of The Fatherless Daughters Network and The Awakened Beauty Experience, the creator of The Journey to Being Process™ and The Divine Ache™ Life Cycles.

Read Angela’s provocative essay on the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died on Monday, May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 3.51.09 PMDisclaimer: Let me start by saying that this article is not intended to offend or hurt anyone. But my intentions are to shake some things up…to step on some toes…to punch you in your gut…in your consciousness and to shift and wake up some folks. Most of you see me as gentle, loving and kind. I still am…but at times…I will become a force and voice for change. This writing is one of those times. I will be blunt, direct and perhaps a little harsh. But brutally honest. I truly believe these things need to be said. They have been said by others in other ways…and they will continue to be said until things change.

we believe you reap what you sow.

I grew up in a southern city, Columbia, SC. I remember as a little girl hearing my mom have the talk with my brothers. She would say things like, never run from the police, keep your hand out of your pockets, keep your ID on you. I also remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

As I became a mother of two sons, I remember having the same talk with them. I also told them to make sure when they went in a store to hurry and purchase what they went in the store to get. Because browsing simply was not a luxury for them.

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Now that my children are adults, they are now having the same talks with their children. Except now, they have to warn them about walking or jogging through a neighborhood, or be aware when you are having a cook out in the park, or sitting in Star Bucks, or yes…simply sitting in your house watching TV.

Every last one of us black folks have to take a deep breath when we are driving. Because we know that one simple innocent traffic stop of DWB (driving while black) could literally end in our death.

Now those of you who don’t share my same skin color, there’s a little voice in your head that will try to tell you that I am exaggerating. But deep within you…you know that I am not.

I … remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.

Everyday we leave home could be our last day just because of our skin color. And we can’t wear a mask to protect us. I remember hearing stories from my grandmother about how black folks couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped. Or they couldn’t gather in groups of 2 or more because they could get locked up for loitering.

Black and Brown folks live through our own epidemic and pandemic every single day of our lives. Except our deadly virus is RACISM! It spreads so quickly and if it doesn’t physically kill us, it slowly kills us emotionally. And for some reason we haven’t found a vaccine.

 

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And to add insult to our wounds, we are accused of playing the “Race Card” when tragedy hits us and our communities for simply walking, jogging or driving. What the hell do you call it then if it isn’t RACISM?

Do you have any idea what it feels like to walk in a store with more money in your bank account than the store manager and get followed around like you’re about to rob the joint? Do you know what it feels like to be in a line and not recognized and watch someone else get pulled to the front? And you have to struggle whether or not to say anything because if you do, it could cost you your very life?

Do you know what it feels like walk around daily and be told by groups of people to go back to Africa…when we didn’t ask to come here in the first place?

We’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

Do you know what it feels like when even your best intentions are considered suspicious because you are not seen human…or equal…you are seen as subhuman.

Now, we here in the America have to sit and listen to a President who we KNOW hates us. How do we know? He demonstrates it to us daily.

Then to have so called “good white folks” tell us that he’s not racist. Like my mom used to say, “Don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining.” Because that’s exactly what it feels like when you defend this man to us. You need to know that’s how we feel EVERY time you defend him to us. It becomes difficult to hear you say you love us and you be okay with how this man treats us.

Now I want to say this. We black and brown folks are some of most brilliant people in the world. In spite of all the odds against us…we still find ways to succeed, to laugh, to win, to live, and to love. We walk tall with our shoulders squared, even when we’ve been beat down on every corner.

 

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We have learned how to code switch and to pivot when we are in your presence because we recognize that our brilliance would BLIND you if we really showed you who we are.

You see, we’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.

But here’s the secret that you don’t know. The tides will eventually turn. We will rise to the top. And that disease…that Pandemic will eat at the host like a virus that destroys the body.

When you are a racist… or you condone it…you don’t get away with it. You will come face to face with what you have done and you will feel the pain of what you have caused others. It’s call Karma.

It never fails…I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Because we believe you reap what you sow.

So the next time you raise your confederate flag, your MAGA hats and your 2nd Amendment signs…I want you to remember this…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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We don’t want your pity…because we are proud people. We don’t want your money because we know how to make our own money…and stretch it to feed our entire community.

We don’t want your respect…because we don’t need it. What we want…what we really want is for YOU to recognize that you are living among some of the most powerful, amazing, strong, courageous, resilient and brilliant people in the land.

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Oops…but you already know this…this is the truth you know and the truth you fear.

 

 

Intimacies of Beauty ~ The Skinny

Screen Shot 2019-12-30 at 6.21.16 PMMeet Guest Christy Hyman, historian, 19th Century Studies at the University of Nebraska. Read her skinny on beauty and the practices we endure to maintain them.

℘So as my two wonderful braiders pulled at my hair in varying directions, one of whom was very pregnant and I was face-to-belly with her yet to be born baby more times than I would have liked, I thought about how much of a high-functioning introvert I am; how I have to mentally prepare for being around groups of people; and, how I don’t handle impromptu gatherings very well (I often get out of invitations at the last minute because I have not had time to do my mental preparation for crowds).

But then I think of how intimate our beauty practices are. Two braiders completely in my personal space as I sat poised, ramrod straight with a slight smile as if paparazzi might bust in at any moment; as if my steadied composure would make the photo look any better, knowing my hair half braided would look a total mess.

Then I thought about when I get Brazilians. You know, the wax? A total stranger seeing my privates. The full procedure means getting on all fours at the end as the esthetician rips the hair from behind. How awful? But it gets done because I, and a host of other individuals, embrace certain aesthetic standards we place on ourselves.

I am not shy, no, but I have to prepare for social gatherings. I am not shy, no, but I avoid impromptu gatherings.

I am an introvert but I will reveal my privates to my esthetician so that it is Brazilian appropriate. Ironic.℘

 

 

Knives Out ~ The Review

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Knives Out

starring Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield, and Daniel Craig

written and directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi). 

(spoiler alert)

Knives Out is a cautionary tale for two groups of people: first,  multimillionaires who, on a whim, play a cat and mouse game I will call “Disinheritance”; and, second, the offspring of multimillionaires who stand to inherit the fortune of their multimillionaire relative.  Crime novelist and collector of automata (or moving dolls), Harlan Thrombey, multimillionaire played by Christopher Plummer, has been “murdered”.  Detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig who tries his best to out southern a southern drawl) appears on the scene with his team, Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) to investigate matters.

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Harlan Thrombey, Patriarch

Knives Out is a captivating whodunnit filled with the usual twists and turns, and hidden secrets lurking about the nooks and crannies of the isolated Thrombey mansion (filmed at the Ames Mansion, a 20-room historic site located at Massachusetts’ Borderland State Park). If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, then Knives Out is your movie.

As with most dead who have taken care of their business here on earth, from the grave, Thrombey wields that four-corner document to upend the economic status of his relatives. At the reading of the Will by the family’s attorney Alan Stevens (Frank Oz), the inheritance of each relative is cut to pieces and thrown to Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), the young, unsuspecting Latinx home care nurse to patriarch Thrombey. Yes, the entire fortune: money, mansion, and publishing business.

Even though they have been subsisting on the kindness of Patriarch Thrombey while he was alive, the characters are worth caring about. Each actor interprets the patriarch’s betrayal with seething disbelief. All eyes turn to Marta, and you might feel a bit of a nick and cut from the “knife” of Thrombey’s Last Will and Testament but coupled with anger as the family, desperate to reclaim(?) the estate, threaten Marta with the deportation of her mother, who is in the United States illegally.

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On one hand, I refuse to praise Thrombey’s change of heart. Thrombey allowed his relatives and their offspring to live with him and nourish family ties on average of fifty years. Along the way, he provided them a lavish lifestyle of privilege and pleasure on average for fifty years, and on a whim he imagines them jumping to it and earning a living? Confess to indiscretions? Please! Yes, they are dysfunctional but he shares the greater responsibility of every dysfunctional dynamic formed within the confines of that mansion. As the powerful patriarch, he determined to play with people’s lives.

Even more egregious, his Last Will and Testament endangered the lives of Marta, her mother, and her sister. What he ultimately commits in front of Marta in his study causes her extreme trauma and that she question her nursing skills.

On the other hand, there seems to be an overarching aspect of the story. Perhaps when it all comes down to it, Johnson suggests it is the blood, sweat, and toil of the immigrant population that made possible for the Harlan Thrombeys of the world to garner the wealth and privilege they enjoy. Let that marinate.

 

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Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis)

On another, I would surmise that Knives Out is a filmic lesson in expectations held by those who have trust funds pending or a rich relative who has been maintaining familial lifestyles with an allowance, or those who are in line to inherit anything. As I viewed Knives Out, the first stanza of Alice Walker’s poem “Expect Nothing” came to mind:

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

… because at any moment, your kinsman/woman could pull knives out and slash your every assumption, laughing all the way to the grave.℘

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Watch for in-depth Film Television & More reviews and commentary from The Dreher Report.  In the meantime, Catch a film. Watch some TV. Share the Popcorn. Feed Your Soul!

 

Maleficent ~ The Skinny

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Meet Guest Reviewer Lena Sledge, filmmaker at Sonny Brook Productions. Read her skinny on Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

℘It’s a white savior film that relegates people of color to the margins and makes them supplementary to their white counterparts. Even in battle, the black warriors are not given the ability to soar with their white counterparts, additionally characterizing them as underlings in their own culture.

Connal (Chiwetal Ejiofor) — the supposed most powerful of the Dark Fey — has his eyes on what is happening to his people. His keen senses account for his forethought to rescue Maleficent from the deep. He is killed, however, while protecting her. That is a disappointment.

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Chiwetal Ejiofor as Connal, the Dark Fey

The aggressive white male, Borra (Ed Skrein), however, causes disruption and chaos; he calls for war. He even excels in battle. Borra’s character arc allows him to evolve, while Connal, the leader and wisest of their people, dies with no fan fair or transformation. The film, in addition, wrestles from the black female elders their powers no matter that they band together to save Connal.

In essence, Maleficent’s  narrative is subservient in its message: Black people, their sacrifices, contributions, and abilities, are a means to an end that serve to propel white voices and accomplishments to the center while marginalizing those who are making the greatest sacrifices.℘

Lena Sledge is the director of Sense of Self, her new film about finding inner happiness. For more information on Lena Sledge and her project, ‘Like’ Sonny Brook Productions on Facebook and SenseofSelfMovie on Instagram.

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Watch for in-depth Film Television & More reviews and commentary from The Dreher Report.  In the meantime, Catch a film. Watch some TV. Share the Popcorn. Feed Your Soul!

 

 

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