On Tulsa Time

14 Jul

People ask me how I managed

to live in a place like Tulsa for five years.

The formula was pretty simple:

Lots of travel.

A lot of dope,

a lot of whiskey,

charming dive bars where people smoked indoors,

a low cost of living,

and the allure of sex with crazy, broken women.

It was the kind of place

where you really needed a good friend

to survive the day to day monotony

and ever lurking dangers.

Luckily I had a few.

~Edward Austin Robertson

Why this is Bigger than George Floyd

3 Jun

George Floyd’s family wants peace. They believe he himself would want peace despite being murdered by Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin. To think this past week’s slew of uprisings have simply to do with George Floyd is reductive. It is much bigger than that.

For black New Yorkers, there are too many famous unsettled scores to list– going as far back as 1983 when graffiti artist Michael Stewart was beaten to death for tagging a wall at the First Avenue and 14th street subway station. All six of the officers involved in the beating were acquitted by an all-white jury.

Oaklanders have not forgotten about BART transit rider, Oscar Grant, who was taken off the train and handcuffed and shot in front of an audience of other commuters at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day 2009. Officer Johannes Mehserle, the policeman who shot Grant, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and only served 11 months in jail–in a private cell for his safety.

Black residents in Louisville, Kentucky are still licking fresh wounds from the police ambush of Breonna Taylor,a Louisville EMT, who was killed in her sleep (naked) because the police mistakenly thought it was the resident of a drug dealer. Somehow her boyfriend Kenneth Walker survived the attack, but not without having to withstand the ordeal of an arrest for allegedly shooting one of the invading officers. Presiding judge Olu Stevens released Walker on bail, and eventually the prosecuting attorney dropped charges without prejudice (meaning that Walker could still go to trial for the crime of defending himself and his girlfriend. One small detail from this evening is that the policemen in question were not wearing their body cameras and the drug dealer they were reportedly looking for had already been in custody for at least 11 hours.

Were all the protests and riots about George Floyd? Sure they were. But it was way bigger than that. Although some unemployed people needed to do some early christmas shopping, and others just needed something to do, if you were black, chances are that George Floyd was simply the final straw.

As I write this, the four officers involved in George Floyd’s death have been charged (Officer Chauvin’s original 3rd degree murder and manslaughter charges have been upgraded to 2nd degree while the others have all been given 2nd degree aiding and abetting a murder and manslaughter), but why did take a city to do an estimated $55 million dollars of property damages just for these men to get charged? This doesn’t even take into account all the other damages nationwide to a country with an already reeling economy.

Public opinion is for once on black people’s side, but why now? No one wanted to listen when Oscar Grant lost his life and the police officer got a slap on the wrist. No one was listening when 12 year old Tamir Rice lost his life in Cleveland because he had the misfortune of carrying a toy gun at the park. No one wanted to listen when George Zimmerman hunted down a child walking home to his father in the rain, and shot him like a wild animal on someone’s front lawn. But now black people have everyone’s attention. Some of it is hot air and lip service of course, the same people who criticized Colin Kaeperknick for peacefully demonstrating against police violence against blacks, are the same people espousing their sympathies and calling for change.

But what does change mean? I hear flowery rhetoric coming from even the most conservative people about how racism is bad and there needs to be change. But no one, not even the most liberal of whites, is calling for stiff punishments to racist and brutal cops who kill black citizens. In 2016, an FBI report was released stating that the Ku Klux Klan had infiltrated law enforcement on all levels. If this is true, when how will sensitivity training, commissions, and investigations help our current situation? How will chanting the words, “Black Lives Matter” every time someone black is murdered, help black people? Sure it makes everyone feel good to acknowledge there is something wrong with the system, but they are just words.

The time for talking is over. We’re past the point of having studies, investigations, chanting, and marching and singing in the name of racial harmony. Put the phone cameras away, and start doing work. Maybe this means protesting, but maybe this means educating others on their bigotry, or maybe, it means putting some money on the books of the protesters out on the front lines. But its time for these racists get this work. No more fence sitting. Either you are with us or against us.

By the way, just because those Minneapolis officers are going to be charged does not mean the fight is over. It is just beginning. Attorney General Keith Ellison needs to be supervised to ensure he does his due diligence in prosecuting these sickos. At most, the accessory officers are looking at 5-10 years in prison with a $20,000 dollar fine. Dr. Michael Baden, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner needs to get moved out of the paint for his bogus preliminary autopsy, and Michael Freeman, the county attorney needs to be removed from his post for waiting so long to charge these dirty cops.

We’ve passed the point of no return in this country—especially for blacks. Black people can sit silently and march peacefully and get quietly exterminated from this country, or they can continue to fight. Every day black people are playing a lottery where every time they leave their homes (and even the comfort of their home isn’t safe) they are a target for violence. To choose to back off the fight is to choose to continue to play the lottery, “maybe today is the day to get killed by a white supremacist, maybe not.” But if that is where we are at, then the choice becomes to either go quietly, or to take someone with them (I for one, refuse to be a soft target. If someone runs up on me, then they are getting this work). But the fight continues. After this issue in Minnesota is resolved, then we’ll have to focus our attention on getting the Louisville officers who killed Breonna Taylor charged and put in jail. Then we’ll have to get some laws put on the books to punish those who violate black people’s civil rights. And then…. the election (but that is for another post on another day).

What this week’s past events have proven is that for positive change to happen for blacks, blacks need to demand tangible results. Its time for blacks and black allies to stop allowing these police officers (and white supremacists) to harm black people with impunity. Black people have to resolve that we can’t just keep getting killed for free. There has to be a cost for each and every black live lost at the hands of the policeman. If that is $55 million, then so be it. But I venture to guess that the next time this happens it will be more costly and less peaceful of a resolution. To quote the filmmaker, Jason Black, “if we are not going to be equally comfortable in this country, then we are going have to be equally uncomfortable.”

 

 

BM

Geeking Out on Farrakhan: Didn’t Have to be Like This

1 Jun

Quarantine Mix Vol. 4: In a World Gone Mad

26 May

 

A Little Pizzazz

13 May

I spend my down time daydreaming

of snagging tough rebounds

then immediately throwing full court outlet passes

that lead to fast break points.

I visualize touch passes

to baseline cutters for easy buckets.

No look bounce passes hit my teammates in stride–

right into the hand that’s closest to the basket.

Dump off passes thrown over my shoulder

into the pal of someone curling from

the paint to the rim

and over the top lobs to big men

skillfully sealing off their defender.

I guess you could say that I miss hoopin’.

 

 

~Bob E. Freeman

 

 

Melancholia

10 May

Discovering the Smiths coincided with

my first major breakup and the depth of my melancholy.

Memories flood back to the first listen

of “I Know it’s Over”

as Morrissey’s words made it crystal clear

of why I was all alone that night

lying in my empty bed.

 

~Edward Austin Robertson

Chapel Hill (For Janet)

22 Apr

She greeted me with a warm smile

and soft, kind eyes

to the southern side of heaven.

Since that day, we’ve seen each other less than a handful of times,

but we’ve always made it count.

On the basis of energy alone,

there was a pure connection,

as is if she were one of many

soulmates I’d encountered along my journeys.

Hers is a face that I’d welcome seeing any day

and had she asked me to come back someday to

rent a room from her,

I’m not sure if I would have said no.

In my mind, Chapel Hill will always be synonymous with her;

which is why part of me never left town.

 

 

~Edward Austin Robertson

 

Quarantine Mix Vol.2: Mind of the Abstract (inspired by ?uestlove presents)

16 Apr

Wear a Mask!

4 Apr

Vernal Equinox: Quarantine Mix

2 Apr