I have often suggested that African American men are by far the best actors on the plant. Not particularly because of any cinematic skills we posses, but because of the real time, real life character dexterity we must show at all times. I guess one could call it an inherent bi-polarness or innate code switching ability you are born with that lies dormant until the appropriate time and then BAM it appears. However, with the latest round of public executions of African-American men it is making me question if somehow my inherent navigational tool is miscalibrated or have we sped back into a time when the perception of what made America great constituted Strange Fruit (Google Billie Holliday).
As both a front line solider and a public intellectual even I am at a loss for what is appropriate actions when you see the lives of so many being taken by those who masquerade as public servants under the guise of protecting and serving. The rules that were passed down to allow me to navigate the inherent system of injustices seem to be out of date without a corresponding upgrade.
Don’t do crime and you will be ok seems to be the prevailing wisdom from those least impacted, but what is seemingly victimless incidents both legal and questionable are leaving countless African-American men DEAD. I offer the following for proof:
Alton Sterling selling CD’s
Philando Castile sitting in his car reaching for his registration
Eric Gardner selling lose cigarettes
Samuel Dubois missing a front license plate
Oscar Grant riding a commuter train
These are just a few of the instances that ended in a loss of life not just for them, but for those of us share their ethnicity and gender. I attest to both my own reality and my even larger humanity that a part of me dies every time I hear about an African-American dying at the hands of the police.
I immediately find myself asking was not the corresponding code switching apparatus not working for these men? Did they forget the scene and stayed in a previous character to long, therefore forgetting the consequences were going to be death. I am not sure and the pain of having to wait for a system of injustice that has proven way more favorable to the other side seems unbearable.
One of my favorite poets/musician/thinkers of all time Gil Scott Heron said the Revolution Will Not Be Televised, but I beg to differ the revolution is being televised courtesy of Apple and Android and is being beamed into our sub-consciousness via Facebook. Yet a significant reaction that will equally disrupt the moral consciousness of the masses has yet to be birthed so for now I give what I have to the cause and that’s the breath I breathe into these thoughts, the work of illuminating my larger humanity and the part of my spirit that dies tragically every time an African-American is killed by law enforcement.
This is my truth and it is real heavy right now.
Dr. Irvin PeDro Cohen