i can’t say that i know what it’s like to keep watching your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and cousins put behind bars and/or killed. but i found this gif and i understand a tiny bit of the frustration on dave dennis’ face while giving a eulogy at james cheney’s funeral. (cheney was one of the three civil rights workers killed by the klan on june 21, 1964 while taking part in freedom summer actions.)
a couple of days ago, i got into some kind of nonsense with a white conservative male who is trolling twitter, specifically the #blacklivesmatter hashtag. when i made a factual argument, backed up by literature from the least biased organization i could find, he replied with some sort of racist graphic, mostly about how liberals cry “racist” when someone disagrees with them. i finally reported him for spam (there needs to be an option for “hate speech”) and blocked him. it was somewhat enjoyable to shoot his vitriol back at him, but ultimately, that’s just a waste of energy. are we really going to change the hearts and minds of people like this? people who are so… dedicated to their hatred and paranoia? i don’t think so anymore. but for some reason, i keep trying…
every day that goes by, it’s like there’s some new horrible story that i can’t even deal with. earlier this week, the hamilton county coroner determined that sam dubose didn’t have alcohol in that bottle of gin. it was air freshener that’s sold at small neighborhood stores; the people who make it reuse bottles and that one was just still marked “gin.” no words. no words. it wasn’t even open. he wasn’t even violating a law transporting it in his car.
i spend a lot of time these days close to tears – sometimes i can’t hold them back – and raging. just this anger inside of me that feels like it might spill out any time. i’m angry about the assault on black people, on women, on LGBT people, on children, on just… anyone who isn’t a white protestant. i don’t know what to do with my anger except keep writing and get re-connected with activists here in cincinnati. i have to channel it somehow. i don’t know how the dubose family (or any of these hundreds of families who’ve lost their loved ones to murderers with a badge) is getting through this. their pain must be immense.
i went to the black lives matter rally last friday. sam’s mother, audrey, spoke with passion and anger. after the rally, there was what the media called a spontaneous march, although at the time, it seemed pretty planned to me, but the dubose family has disowned it and was unhappy with the arrests that occurred later near fountain square. to be honest, i took off around this time because it was so incredibly tense. from what i could tell, the people who threw a couple of plastic bottles, which is really when the police ramped up their presence and penned us in, weren’t people taking part in the march. butthe police were the ones who escalated the situation, of course, because they surrounded us and just started making arrests. i wasn’t surprised by it at all, though. arrests make them look like they have the power. they’ve lost the respect of citizens and they’re trying to hang on, so they flex.
at the beginning of the march, as we headed down main street, i ended up walking very close to audrey dubose. she was pushing a stroller. she stopped in the middle of the street and was visibly and audibly upset about how the march was going. i don’t know if it’s that it was moving too fast – which it was – or if she was overwhelmed or if she saw something else that made her uncomfortable, but it upset me that she was upset and that only a few people, including me, stopped with her to see what was up. it seems to me that taking what the family needs or wants is pretty important and this march was something they didn’t seem prepared for or wanted. they certainly didn’t want to see arrests.
i almost started crying several times as we marched through the downtown streets and chanted sam dubose’s name. a march can be a very emotional thing, at least for me. the energy was good for this one. i wish it hadn’t gone south the way it did. when we circled back through fountain square a second time, i had a feeling that would be a mess. it’s basically private property and there was one of the summer concerts going on. the second time through we stopped right in front of the stage and there was more chanting, then we headed out of the square, which is where the cops blocked us. while i totally support interrupting something like a free concert to make people think about someone who’s been murdered by a cop, i also think those leading the march should have been slightly more thoughtful about that second walk through. not that i think the outcome would have been different, because i think the cops were poised to shut it down, but there was a possibility that it could have gotten uglier. i don’t think arrests are necessarily a bad thing for the movement, because they can demonstrate, and do demonstrate all the time, the power of the state and the way the state is an apparatus for violence and domination. but i worry about safety in those situations. there were children who marched with their parents and no one seemed to care that (other than their parents) they were close to getting stepped on. anyway, i have many mixed feelings about arrests and non-violence and violent demonstrations that i need to make sense of. another time.
but i’m not going to tell anyone how to run any of these protests or do any of this work. i’m not there to lead. black people, especially black women (who, let us not forget, were the people who started the black lives matter movement), should be in front. i’m support, i’m an ally. my voice doesn’t need to be louder. i trust that those leading the way have a vision and know what they’re doing.
anger like the kind i have has to be channeled somewhere or it just eats me up and makes me feel hopeless. these issues are too important to give up on.