Thursday, September 24, 2020

"Violence Is Not The Way"


    



 I was invited to a watch party on Facebook, and protesters in Philadelphia were attempting to pull down a statue in a public square. It was equally comical and alarming. It was comical because it was clear that they were acting out with no practical knowledge and alarming because I was afraid it would topple over, crushing dozens of them under its weight. 

The scene was riveting to me. Though I had planned to head outside for a walk in the pleasant 80-degree weather that was blanketing New York City, I could not tear myself away. 

Into my reverie came the comment section with caucasian people calling it a "tragedy" and "disgusting." It set my blood to boiling. I posed several questions: "Which do you find more disgusting, the pulling down of a stone statue or the killing of black and brown people with no justifiable cause?", "Is the statue more important than the constant loss of Life they are protesting," "Are you as disgusted by three to four police putting their full body weight on a man until he dies - no trial, no jury of his peers? Killed. Murdered. And for what?"

I have yet to receive an answer to these questions.

Earlier in the day, I had gone to pick up a few groceries from the store and received a call from a good friend who lives in a city further south. He wanted to know if I had been watching the footage and photos of the many protests all over the Country - Philly, Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Boston. So many.

We chatted about the ongoing state of race relations in America and the narrative pushed by the media. We commiserated over the continued marginalization of our people. We discussed the possibilities of the whole Coronavirus pandemic being a planned event (him being a bit of a conspiracy theorist, at times). Then, we hit upon a topic that was slightly contentious between us: Why are people rioting? Is that going to make it better or worse? 

Let me say that I am a proponent of non-violence, in general, and nonviolent protest specifically. However, I believe that it will take dozens of disparate approaches for any real change to occur. Some will need to fight back, and others will find their calling being nonviolent. There will be those who can circulate petitions and those who can get the ear of our representatives in office. I hope that all will use their right and responsibility to vote, but voting alone will not change people's hearts. 

People wax nostalgic about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his nonviolent protests, but it was not the lone approach of Dr. King that brought about Civil Rights. It was a combination of factions, including him, and Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party, and the Nation of Islam, and, and, and…

Lest you forget, both the nonviolent Dr. King and the more militant Malcolm X were assassinated. 

I also remember reading the story of Nelson Mandela and realizing that, even though he was the leading figure touted in the struggle for equality in South Africa, there were many coalitions in that fight - some followed the nonviolent path, others were much more militaristic. They blew up houses, businesses, and power plants - if memory serves me correctly. 

There is no one walk to freedom and equality. 

As we continued our conversation, we came to the tentative conclusion that people need to do what they are willing to do. Those who can be nonviolent in the face of violence should do so. Those who are predisposed to fight, go to jail, be beaten and abused, should be ready to take their lumps for the cause. 

Black men, women, and children are being killed by those sworn to protect US even when doing things as innocuous as playing in a playground, driving down a street, or sleeping in their own homes. Who are you to say that they should only protest peacefully in the face of genocide? 

In this Facebook watch party, someone stated that "violence doesn't help anything," and I reminded them that the USA was created when people took to the streets, tarred and feathered their British overlords, and fought for Independence. Was it a smooth, safe, and nonviolent transition of power? No! 

Power concedes nothing without a fight. 

Every uprising has its detractors. There are those who would uphold the status quo as long as it is working for them. They will attempt to vilify those who are being unjustly jailed, beaten, and even killed before they will demand accountability from those sworn to uphold the Law.

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." 

There is no Liberty in being killed for passing a small, fake bill to buy groceries. There is no Liberty in being murdered for failing to signal while driving down a deserted street. There is no Liberty in being assassinated while playing with a toy gun in a playground. There is no life that is not sacred and holy and worthy of due process. 

If you have not been demanding justice for Amadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, and Tamir Rice, how can you now declare that "violence is not the way."  Violence has been perpetrated on our kind from before we were brought to this Country. You birthed US in brutality during slavery. You taught US, from your history books, that violence is the way to get what we want. You continue to grind your knee into our necks and expect US to be complacent and nonviolent in the face of your cruelty.

It is going to take an economic, spiritual, and political revolution to stop the murder and subjugation of minorities in this Country. You are either with US or against US. 

Which is it? 









#JusticeforBreonnaTaylor #BLM #Antifa #BlackLivesMatter #SayTheirName





Saturday, May 30, 2020

I CAN'T BREATHE, EITHER

I  CAN'T BREATHE 
by RW Anton




"Stop right there!" 
No, not again. I can't keep going through this every other evening. I'm on my way home from work, just minding my business, and they come after me every time. Why does it have to be like this? What have I done in this life to keep them riding me like I'm some sort of common criminal? I look around to see if there are others nearby, but it's just as dark and deserted as any other Harlem street after all the shops are closed. 
 "Let me see some ID." 
My blood is beginning to boil like a pot of hot grits on too high heat. I know I should try to stay calm, but the pop pop popping of every blood vessel in my body is calling out for me to scream, shout, let it all out. I'm so tired of this. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm on the edge of just...No. 
No! I have seen too many videos of too many cops shooting too many innocent victims for simply standing up for their rights. What will he do to me if I start yelling and screaming about how unfair this is? I haven't done anything! I am just trying to go home after a long day at work. I work hard! I work long hours! I work for little better than minimum wage! I don't deserve this type of treatment. 
"Did you hear me? Where is your ID?" 
"Why?" I say, my throat as dry as a matza cracker. " What do you need to see my ID for, what have I done? Have I broken any laws?" My heart is racing, fit to be tied, right out of my chest. Come on, Tam, just show the guy some ID, my head tells me, but my heart isn't in it. I want to resist. I don't want them to keep treating me like a second class... I would say citizen, but I don't think this is how a citizen of the United States of America should be treated. "What have I done, and why are you stopping me? I know my rights." 
"Oh! We've got a smart one, do we? You can either show me some ID right here, or we can take you down to the station until we identify you. You fit the exact description of a perp we're looking for in a robbery in the neighborhood." 
I know he's lying. The only "description" I fit is the fact that I'm a black male in a black neighborhood. Most people don't even call the cops around these streets. More often than not, they end up shooting the wrong person; sometimes, the person actually calling for help. I know he's lying, but what can I do about it? He can say whatever he likes, and the law will back him up. Their Laws were made to keep a foot on the necks of the poor and the blacks and all the "others" that threaten their fragile sense of superiority. 
"Do you understand English, boy? I want to see some ID, and I want to see it right now," he says as he puts his hand on the gun holstered on his right hip. 
"I refuse to be harassed like this. I'm just walking home from work. If you want to call my employer, I will give you his number; but I'm well within my rights. You cannot stop me without probable cause." It sounded like I was confident, I think; but my hands were shaking, and I swear my voice cracked more than once. "Do what you want, but I'm taking law classes over at Burisma College, and this is unacceptable!" 
"Is it unacceptable? Well, why didn't you say that in the first place," he says - his voice dripping with sarcasm. "You sure seem like an upstanding citizen. Excuse me for presuming to think you could be our robbery suspect, sir. You are free to go." 
I was so surprised that I barely thanked the officer; I just wanted to get out of there. 
As I turned to walk away, I felt a pain in the back of my head;  as I tried to raise my hands to the offending spot, hands grabbed my wrists and pulled them behind my back. He put me in handcuffs and then proceeded to go through my pockets. 
"You just keep your mouth shut, you uppity nigger. When I ask you for something, you do as I say. I could shoot you right now, and no one would care. It's not smart to try and grab for a police officer's gun. Don't you know that?" 
"Fuck you, you fucking..." I tried to say, but he had pushed my face down onto the pavement and kicked me in the mouth. The warm smell of blood filled my nostrils, and I tasted...red...on my tongue. I don't know why I thought of red, but it didn't taste like any food I could remember eating. It's how I imagine the color red would taste: thick, slow, heavy. It started to choke me as it ran down the back of my throat. I gagged and convulsed and tried to spit it out.
"I can't breathe," I tried to say, but the words weren't coming out. "I can't breathe" again and again until I blacked out. 




Friday, May 8, 2020

making videos and making music

I did a cover video for Mother's Day. Bill Withers
You can check that out on my itsranton @youtube channel

I also did a better vocal mix that I posted at:
https://soundcloud.com/user-899528879/grandmas-hands-cover

Time On My Hands - Mary J. Blige lol
I'm tryna keep myself from going bonkers.