Alabama gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me loose my rest
And everybody knows about Missouri Goddam!
Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer!
Alabama got me so upset
Tennessee made me loose my rest
And everybody knows about Missouri Goddam!
(a few verses of the song)
- Nina Simone (Mississippi Goddam –release 1964)
Yes this is a play on words, forgive me Ms. Simone but if you were alive today I think you would be singing this version of the song. Peace and blessings to you my readers who I hope I can call my brotha’s and sistah’s! What is happening in Furguson, MO and let’s be real, most cities across this country is beyond upsetting and I have been yelling at my TV, newspapers, magazines and YOU NAME it for over a week! I had to upgrade and enhance my meditation time.
First I must send my heartfelt condolences to the mother, father, family and friends of Michael Brown Jr. and all people who have been brutally beaten and/or killed by law enforcement in this country. One of my “girls” from college is the first cousin of Eric Garner, the man killed in Staten Island, NY by a police officer’s unauthorized, unofficial and illegal choke hold. Mr. Garner leaves behind a wife and six beautiful children with a huge family and community who loved him dearly. The Garner family has ALWAYS been kind, caring and loving to me and the community and I am personally upset by his murder.
The events of the past week have been eye opening for some and nothing new for others. If you have never had a person in your life brutally murdered you are lucky. If you have never had a person in your life brutally murdered by a member of law enforcement you are blessed. I unfortunately have experienced both, and unfortunately multiple times. I have been in multiple situations where I watched a person take out a gun and shoot another human being right in front of my eyes. It is a horrific vision and one you never forget. I have held and hugged many friends as they fell apart in my arms from the agony of being told that their sibling or love of their life was shot down and killed. They were some of the most upsetting and at the same time frustrating experiences in my life.
I have also, had the phone ring in the middle of the night and my mother take me out of my bed in my pajamas and carry me to my auntie’s house while she went to the local emergency room to talk with doctors about my father who was shot multiple times. Because my dad was an East Orange, NJ police officer in charge of the Narcotics division and while he was off duty and out with friends, some young men he arrested years before and were released from prison, recognized him and shot him. He lived through his second time being shot, and remained on the force until his retirement in 1996.
The pain and agony these families are enduring are nothing to take lightly or ignore. A mother has lost her son and a community has lost it’s patience. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
ENOUGH! Hands up Don’t Shoot! what else can we say?
Another verse from the song (Mississippi Goddam)
They keep on saying “Go slow!”
Tryin’ to do your best and
Stand up & be counted with all the rest
That line They keep on saying “Go slow!” is a part of the Civil Rights movement. It refers to when the movement’s leaders sat down to discuss the next steps for ending racial discrimination immediately, they were told by white legislatures to go slow, “we must take our time with this”, “we can not do this too quickly”. Many in the black community were not having it and were frustrated with the process of peaceful demonstrations. They felt that these tactics were not working.
I have participated in peaceful demonstrations or direct actions and chanted about ending Apartheid in South Africa, Free Nelson Mandela, make MLK Jr.’s b-day a national holiday, stop the violence, end the drug wars, keep hope alive, peace not war – not in my name and stop killing my community, just to name a few. They do work and they are effective. But I completely understand the frustration that the disenfranchised community in this country harbors and how this can quickly turn to anger.
The disrespect by law enforcement towards US citizens in Ferguson, MO over the past week is unacceptable. It was disheartening to have a Police Chief say that it is too dangerous to release the police officer’s name because of death threats and that he fears for his life. This is public knowledge and every law enforcement officer in this country faces danger and the possibility of loosing their lives each day they get up and go out of their door whether they are on duty or off. It was detestable to hear that the police officials in Furguson those first few days were ready to go out and talk with the peaceful protestors but then after assessing the situation, they were overcome with fear and decided not to go out. On September 11, 2011 hundreds of police officers in NYC ran toward two buildings with planes in them, on fire and knowing we were under attack, to help people. You mean to tell me that a group of black people protesting in Ferguson, MO are more fearful than a terrorist attack? Law enforcement is an inherently dangerous job!
The law enforcement in Ferguson, MO has created a systemic issue with trying to disparage a community and stop them from participating in their basic fundamental First Amendment Right which clearly states, the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law….interfering with the right to peaceably assemble…
Missouri Goddam! They sent out police officers wearing military styled uniforms carrying assault weapons, with tanks behind them and used tear gas to disperse a peaceful demonstration/gathering. Now I know there were people out there doing things they had no business doing, but they were and are not the majority of people in the streets. Competent law enforcement procedures would allow for knowing the difference and handling the situation as called for on each night.
One of the most poignant Tweets I read was from an activist in Gaza living in Palestinian territories who in solidarity with the protesters, sent the people of Furguson tips on how to handle being tear gassed. (see article below) AMAZING! Because that is what I thought (a war area) as I watched the TV and looked at the pictures in the newspaper. I was confused are they reporting on the Middle East, Ukraine or some other war torn zone. No, those images came from the heartland of the good ole US OF A.
It was a blessing to attend the National Moment of Silence at a peaceful gathering here in Washington, DC on August 14, 2014 (see pictures at my Twitter feed); where of the people by the people worked again! Law enforcement in DC was very good and believe me DC has EVERY law enforcement sector you can name and they will use them when needed. But peaceful and not so peaceful assembly is the norm here. That in no way means that MPD is excluded from this conversation about issues with “community” policing. Just like the majority of the police departments in this country MPD definitely has its problems.
It has been interesting to watch the media slowly take interest in reporting the events in Ferguson, MO. First it was a few minutes story on Saturday the 9th evening and by the following Saturday entire shows were filming live from the streets. The best Sunday news show interview was on CNN’s State of the Union. Jesse Williams was phenomenal. PREACH Jesse preach! He spoke from the heart and said so many of the things that the media and America needed to hear. (see link below) It was wonderful to watch this successful, smart, sophisticated black man discuss this issue with such poise and he made SOTU host squirm in her seat. Candy Crowley you could not hide that you were uncomfortable –defined as causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort.
There is so much to talk about and around this horrific incident and believe me over the next few weeks I will continue to write. But for now I am observing, listening and hopefully seeing my country finally enter into this conversation about race with some lasting serious changes for the future.
I stand in solidarity with the grassroots movement and support their personal reporting of these events through social media and all other forms of information distribution for the people by the people. And as my sistah Nina Simone sang: All I want is equality for my sisters, my brothers, my people and me.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment and pass the word!
Information from this post:
Nina Simone singing: Mississippi Goddam on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVQjGGJVSXc (*Sorry it is not Captioned – but here are the lyrics – http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ninasimone/mississippigoddam.html
History of song: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Goddam
The First Amendment of the US Constitution: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1/amendment.html
Gaza activist tips article:
Jesse Williams on CNN State of the Union segment – A Matter of Race: