Tag: Black Lives Matter

Not My Business: After Alton and Philando

Leisha Evans, mother and activist, in Baton Rouge

It’s not that I don’t give a damn, or that I’ve had nothing to say following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. If you’ve seen my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, I’ve stated how I’ve felt as best I could without falling into the pit of narcissistic grief that I’ve seen all over the interwebs. Self aggrandizement is just not my style.

The past week has been traumatizing, frightening, and exhausting. I cried as a mother, and friend, both scared for the livelihoods of so many brothers that I love, and for my own livelihood, which seems to be at stake with every breath I take. But as a woman of action, I didn’t want my acknowledgement to be reduced to a series of hashtags, retweets and emojis. Too many times educated professional Black folks get lost in rhetoric, talking ad nauseum about the injustice of it all while lounging in luxury in their gentrified apartments before happy hour, adding little to the conversation except posting or liking stylish, yet superficial social media posts. I can’t be that. I have a responsibility as a Black woman, a mother, a woman of intellect, to take real action so that these horrifying incidents don’t become just another day in the life of.

Gathering with other Black mothers, and people interested in protecting and growing our communities, I gained so much knowledge on what I can do to give self care and contribute to healing my community. Here are several actionable points we can all do:

Allow yourself to grieve and practice self care.

Let non-people of color know that you are not responsible for making them feel comfortable around you

And also let them know that you are not responsible for teaching them about racism. They can learn that on their own

Put your money back into the community. Buy from businesses owned by people of color. The WhereU App lists these business that are near you. And Solange just posted a list of Black-owned banks on her website

Gather people from your community to grieve, get to know one another, and discuss proactive ways of developing stronger law enforcement and community relations. Anybody can do this. So many times young people and professionals get so ‘busy’ that they spend no time meeting their neighbors or finding out what is developing in their own neighborhoods. But they damn sure know what’s poppin’ on Instagram, or who went to the hottest concert last night, or can share their latest foreign retreat. Please, people. Call your local town hall, and keep calling until they sit down with you. Meet with the police and bring actionable points to the meeting, including fears coming from both sides and how we can all better manage them.

Ask your local government for accountability. Newark, NJ has recently developed a Civilian Review Board, a sort of Yelp for police, giving a rundown of issues between residents and the police. Constant notation and accountability is a key to transparency and progress.

On an ending note, a friend of mine posted this poem, and I think it’s apt for all of us who ‘made it’ and somehow believe that is enough.

They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe –
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
– Niyi Osundare

Exhibit: A Foothold on the Rocks: The Indelible Legacies of Jacob and Gwedolyn Knight Lawrence

A few months ago I did a unit study with my daughter on the works of Jacob Lawrence and his Depression-era depictions of working class Black families. We discussed their dilemma of building wealth and security in the uncertain times following the Emancipation, and the benefits and repercussions of moving from rural to urban life.

In this new gallery exhibit, several artists depict issues of class, race and wealth in a collection of bold and inspiring paintings and photographs. I had a chance to meet with most of the artists, who spoke about topics ranging from gentrification, to everyday life struggles, to the struggle to maintain culture in an ever-changing city landscape. Check this show out. These artists definitely have something to say.


Artist Tiffany Latrice


Artist Shannon Berry


Tania L. Balan-Gaubert


Freida Hoyett


David Vades Joseph


David Vades Joseph


David Vades Joseph


David Vades Joseph


David Vades Joseph


Lance Johnson


Lance Johnson


Tania L. Balan-Gaubert

A Foothold on the Rocks: The Indelible Legacies of Jacob and Gwedolyn Knight Lawrence

Equity Gallery, 245 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002 | (212) 542-0292

This Is Why I Love Janelle Monae

Because she’s not only a fashion ingenue. Because she’s not just a quirky Black pop star. Because she stands for something.

Won’t you say their names? Can we say their names right now? Can we speak their names, as long as we have breath in our bodies? -Janelle Monae


After helping to lead a #BlackLivesMatter march in Philadelphia on Wednesday in remembrance of the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and all the other black lives lost senselessly to police brutality, the artist, along with her Wonderland label mates released Hell You Talmbout. The song is urgent, pleading, angry, and emotional. Have a listen here. And say their names.


Black People Are Being Attacked And Its All Our Fault


The mayhem at the McKinney Texas pool party.

What do you say when even video is not enough?

I watched the McKinney pool party video
with the heartbreak of a mother of a Black daughter. To see a 15 year old girl slammed to the ground by the overzealous cop, to see this cop wave his gun at a group of teenagers, to detain some of the kids without even reading them their miranda rights, makes me wonder what the boundary is for justice in America. With Tamir Rice being shot and killed, I wonder when we will get the sickening news of a Kindergartener being killed for not respecting law enforcement.

As per the course, sentimentalists of this rogue cop argued that the kids were the cause of the problem. This teacher argued that Blacks people are the cause of racial tension and ironically hash tagged her post #Imnotracist . Forget that the cop literally rolled onto the scene, action hero style, while running towards a group of unarmed kids. Forget that the other cops did not act in the same way as the bad cop, and forget that none of the White children were addressed in the same manner. Forget that it was a White child who filmed the whole thing. Forget that the host of the party sent out an invitation via Twitter. Forget that using profanity is not illegal, and freedom of speech is the first amendment of the Constitution.


Brandon Brooks, the 15 year old who shot the shocking video.

I understand that there are a substantial number of Americans that truly stand behind their beliefs in the justice system, even when such atrocities as McKinney are shown in vivid detail. The death of Eric Garner brought out sentiments that it was his own fault that he was brought into a chokehold and that he died from being fat. The determined refusal to believe that there is a glaring problem is truly shocking and saddening to me. That these kids, who were clearly shaken and visibly upset were seen as a mob of drunk, drug-using teens, despite the child who filmed this episode denying illicit drug use, these sentimentalists hold their grip so tightly to the belief that Black kids are ultimately bad.

It’s too much for this mother to bare. I have a hard enough time trying to teach my 5 year old that that there are bad people from all races. But what do I tell her when Black children, ever younger, are being assaulted by the justice system? Will she too, become suspect?

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