I am not the anti-activist. I understand the hoods. I understand the occupation. I get the gesture, the action, the symbolism and the solidarity. It serves a purpose in our society – to comfort survivors, to empower ourselves. To feel in cahoots, to be on the right side of justice. I struggle to participate the way I struggle to vote. Believing that you all will do my bidding with your overwhelming majority. You all, who stand there and speak as if you know the pulse of conviction, have a better understanding than I. You scream louder, you buy king sized skittles. Your signs are higher hoisted and more colorful. You all look good out there, together.
And I see you from here and I’m not sure I have a role to play. Other than to see to it that I know where my children are, so that they won’t harm yours. Other than to remind my boys that they are loved and thus hunted; not because they are harmful, but because the act of emasculation is a pendulum – often boosting the self worth of the worthless. Other than to tell her that she is the most beautifulest thing in this world. And perhaps to remind you all of the possibilities beyond what you can see with your own eyes.
My brother got older, a mentor left this earth, Trayvon was shot and bled out. And I… dear hearts… was there for none of it. Your presence is a present. What you choose to do with it is your business, literally none of my concern. But, I don’t wear a hood today for a rally I can’t see, the same way I wouldn’t wear a gown on the date of a wedding I can’t attend.
We must be powerful – wherever our environment. We must be fully present, wherever we are. I urge you to do whatever you feel best, I trust your judgment. And likewise, trust that you will understand my absence. But I hear you, even from here. I will convey your message, honestly, when people ask, “Have things changed?”
Before I go out there and give our response, I just want to clarify with you. I believe I can relay that our President is a man and not a superhero. If I hear you correctly, you are ok with my saying that in order to understand the progress of change, one must punctuate the historical timeline correctly. I understand from your message that the civil rights movement was, perhaps, a start. What I believe you want me to say is that what you are looking for is an end.
Correct me, if I’m wrong…
…I wear a hoodie nearly every day. Not for a cause due to injustice of some sorts, but rather because I feel comfortable in my warriors uniform when I go out into a world where I’m treated & hunted down like livestock. I almost welcome the not-so-hidden-angst and disdain popular society has geared towards other comrades that wear the same uniform, wear the same warpaint. It sucks having to grow up understanding just being a boy growing into your manhood, and being Black at the same time, exposes you to a sick sick game of survival. But that’s just the way things are, and the world we helped create for ourselves. Sometimes I feel like no one else has to play this game with as much precision & craft as Black men. Sometimes I feel like I we’re the only ones playing this game. I too struggle to vote. I struggle to believe the “ideals” this nation is founded on. I struggle to understand why it’s so hard for us just to make it past 21. Whether it was reckless living or the Elmer Fudd the neighborhood watch guard that took young Treyvon from us, the bottom line another young comrade was eliminated before he even really began living…and that pain hurts the warriors out here deeply. So I’ll wear my hoodie because it’s what other warriors before me have worn..as a fashion statement, because it’s chilly outside, because it’s a staple/symbol of who we are, what we look like. I’m not wearing it because a couple of people want to march together & feel solidarity in the wake of another loss. This won’t be the last time we get angry, and band together because police & now security guards are killing our children. Treyvon won’t be the last young comrade to lose his life in what is now painfully obvious a war waged against us. But you’re absolutely right Nafeesah. I’m looking for an end. Don’t know what that end is gonna look like, but I’m looking for it…with my strap on my side if it comes to that.
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