38 days ago, Michael Brown was shot six times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. More witnesses have come forward to corroborate eye-witness testimony that Brown’s hands were up, and he was not aggressive. But, still Officer Darren Wilson is on paid vacation. No indictment, no justice.
On Saturday August 9, we saw the image of Brown’s body, lying in the street, uncovered, for four hours, while his mother sobbed on the curb, begging the police to let a nurse look at his body. There are no longer big crowds in the streets of Ferguson, but this is not over.
I sometimes wonder how many people understand what it’s like for young Black and Latino men to walk the streets with a target on their chests. Do each of us know the hurt of having loved ones’ lives stolen? What about a body lying for hours with no respect given, treated as disposable?
Along comes renowned author Alice Walker, with a new poem about the NYPD murder of Eric Garner, conveying, with deep grace, some of the understanding and challenge needed, as we head into the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. Thank you, Alice.
©2014 by Alice Walker
for Carl Dix and Cornel West
It is still hard to believe
that millions of us saw Eric Garner die.
He died with what looked like a half dozen
standing on his body, twisting and crushing
especially his head
He was a big man, too. They must have felt
like clumsy midgets
as they dragged him down.
Watching the video,
I was reminded of the first lynching
I, quite unintentionally, learned about:
it happened in my tiny lumber mill
town before the cows were brought in
and young white girls
on ornate floats
became dairy queens.
A big man too,
whom my parents knew,
he was attacked also by a mob
of white men (in white robes and hoods)
and battered to death
by their two by fours.
I must have been a toddler
overhearing my parents talk
and mystified by pieces of something
called “two by fours.”
Later, building a house,
i would encounter the weight,
the heaviness, of this varying length
of wood, and begin to understand.
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