Fifty-six years separate these two whites who passed as black. The first was celebrated for his courage in crossing the deadly color-line. The latter, critiqued for her lying. Their intents differed but they showed a truth that erodes the very categories of race. Passing is only possible because as Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Man is an imitative animal.” We are living mirrors, reflecting each other within the same species. So however flawed the “passing” person is, within their cracked image is a glimpse of a post-racial world.
“Tell me of the night your son was killed by the police,” I asked. She sat up and a deep sorrow moved in her eyes. “I had a habit of looking out the window to see my son,” Danette Chavis said. “But that night, I said to myself, ‘oh leave the boy alone’ and took a nap. The phone woke me up and my daughter was rushing out of the door. I followed her and saw police tape, cops standing around a body. I yelled to see if it was him. But they wouldn’t let me close. Later, I went to the morgue and identified my son.”
“Well let me ask a question,” his voice was like a weight placed on a scale, “Who are you writing for? Is it for your neighbors? Or the white Left?”
“Excavating Muscle Memory as Source and Research” with Maria Bauman and Nicholas Powers is a generative workshop for beginning and experienced choreographers, novice and experienced writers, and those who seek to nurture themselves and explore their own histories in written and embodied form. We all stash positive and negative emotions and experiences in our bodies, but we rarely give ourselves the time and attention to go back to those stashed energy stores.
What happens when enslaved human beings testify on life? The answer is one of the world’s most beautiful canons of literature. On Feb. 2nd, I begin teaching a ten week session course on Black Literature each Monday from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Commons at 388 Atlantic Avenue.
See the link for more details: http://thecommonsbrooklyn.org/civicrm/event/info…
On December 20, a Friday, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley eyed a parked NYPD cruiser where Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu sat; he pulled out a silver, semiautomatic gun and shot them dead. First and foremost this is a human loss that, like the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, has left families broken by pain. But quickly their murders were transformed into a political spectacle used by interlocking sectors of the ruling class to delegitimize the Black Lives Matters movement.
Hours later, cameras swept over a stadium packed with people. Hogan slapped hands with them as he stomped down the red carpet to the steel cage where Darren Wilson paced back and forth in his cop uniform. Fans held their palms up and chanted in a one pulsing voice, “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”
We jumped in front of traffic. Car headlights blinded us; we held up our hands and yelled, “I can’t breathe.” These were the last words of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man who was strangled to death by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo on Staten Island. Running between cars, we slapped high-fives with drivers and held signs above our heads.
Paranoia is the first symptom of a plague. When news of an infectious disease like Ebola, SARS or swine flu breaks, the risks quickly ignite underlying social fears that themselves become a danger. When the disease passes, carrying off however many or few to an early death, what remains is the bigotry. Today it is West African immigrants, yesterday it was gay men during the HIV panic and hundreds of years ago, during the Black Death of the 14th century, it was Jews.