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When Hope Feels Like A Four-Letter Word

imagePhoto courtesy of Matt Pearce

- - - - - - 
"The length of Black life is treated with short worth." —Black Star, “Thieves In The Night”

Michael Brown. His name is just the latest addition to the list of boys and men killed in this country for being Black, the newest extension of this country’s legacy of murdering people who look like my father and my brother. His death at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has prompted a town to turn on its residents, launched a million tweets, and pulled the attention of national media in a way that similar murders haven’t in the past.

As a way to remember Brown and those who have fallen before him, blogger FeministaJones called for a National Moment of Silence yesterday. I wasn’t able to make it to the local gathering, so I elected to observe a few moments where I stood, in my home with my three-year-old daughter. As the time crept toward 7:00 p.m., I hastily ended a phone call, turned off MSNBC, put away all my devices, and gathered Babygirl into my arms. She’s exactly the opposite of silent from the moment she opens her eyes in the morning, so I knew I’d need to explain why I wanted her to act outside her character. I told her that we were going to take some quiet time to remember our family members who aren’t here anymore and pray that we don’t lose anyone else.

"Why, mama?" was her response. It’s a typical retort for a three-year-old, full of equal parts genuine curiosity and smiley face cheekiness. But as she looked up mid-giggle and saw the sadness in my face, concern crept into hers. "Why, mama?" she asked again, then waited, wanting to know why our loved ones, our people, weren’t here anymore.

And I didn’t really know what to tell her. I’m known for talking to my child like a grownup. There has never been any baby talk in our home. In fact just last week we had our first ever gibberish conversation and she thought it was the funniest shit ever to hear me speaking nonsense. (“You’re hilarious, mama!”) So I ventured down my usual road: logic.

"Well, there are some people who don’t value the lives of people in our village, and sometimes they do bad things and we lose people who we care about."

"But why?" she asked, her little body now swiveled around in my lap as the seconds ticked toward 7:01.

And I said…nothing. Logic could not carry me here, had in fact left me some time ago, alone to hitchhike with nothing but my prayers and eyes shiny with tears that I held onto like a lifeline to my humanity. There was no way for me to make sense of how one human being could shoot and kill an unarmed human being. No way to explain how this keeps happening, how Eric Garner was choked to death on a Staten Island street last month, how John Crawford was gunned down while holding a toy rifle in a Dayton, Ohio, Walmart last week, how nothing has changed from last year when Trayvon Martin met his earthly end and we donned hoodies to show that we, too, were Trayvon, or when Emmett Till “flirted” with a white woman. No way. No.

So I was silent, with her tiny body on my lap, her questioning face swiveled toward mine as I soundlessly mouthed the names of our fallen, reminding the Universe that we haven’t forgotten. Then, even as she struggled to climb down—120 seconds really is along time for her to sit still—I prayed into the top of her little head, asking for comfort for the mothers and fathers and children who lost their kin, for a peaceful night in Ferguson, Missouri, for a way forward that makes “Why, mama?” a question that I can consistently answer with a belly tickle and a smile, or at the very least a logical stream of words that doesn’t make me feel like “hope” is a bad one.


micdotcom:

Days after Michael Brown’s death, Ferguson looks like a war zone

A vigil held for Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager gunned down by Ferguson, Mo., police on Saturday in disputed circumstances, turned into what the media described as a riot on Monday evening.

But while national coverage has focused on the indisputably counterproductive violence and destruction committed by Ferguson residents during a moment of anguish, videos and photos taken from the scene show local police aggravating the situation as well.

Years of tension have reached a boiling point


"The length of Black life is treated with short worth." Exactly how I’m feeling right now. #EndangeredSpeciesStatus 


sourcedumal:

hightopbunfreshtipnail:

Seriously guys, please spread the word about this petition.

Add in an outside investigation force that is responsible for handling these cases. No more “internal” nothing.

Also, all of these police officers who are charged with misconduct should be plastered over the news with all prior allegations put up for public viewing.

Officers tied to hate groups should be IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED and investigated by said outside force.


Twirling in the self-selected outfit of the day.

gradientlair:

@FeminstaJones started the hashtag #NMOS14 (National Moment of Silence, Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 7pm EST / 4pm PST; flyer designed by @alsorae) in memory of Michael Brown, the Black teenager who was extrajudicially executed in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s about all of the Black victims of extrajudicial execution and State violence (which is NOT the same as any race’s intraracial crime). 
People can set up #NMOS14 gatherings in their own cities (see the Facebook page for #NMOS14), all to occur at the same time mentioned above. Also, follow the #NMOS14 hashtag for information (and here’s an image to change your avi, if you choose.) If time/ability etc. prevents you from attending, you can join the conversation on Twitter. It’s about community and not any one leader to speak for all. So far several people have stepped up to create gatherings for their own cities. 
These gatherings are about acknowledging our loss, our pain, our humanity. We need moments to grieve. I find it gives me time to honor our humanity that’s denied anyway and is not an either/or thing in relation to our actions to fight anti-Blackness nor to our activism. The acknowledgement of Black humanity is a radical act in an anti-Black society. It is activism. Our primary activism, in fact. #NMOS14 is not “in place” of any other action people engage in nor is it tone policing, in my opinion. A moment needs to be had just like we know we do on a personal level with Black funeral rituals. Acknowledgment of grief matters.
Please make sure to uplift Black women who also face extrajudicial execution and police violence. Please make sure to uplift Black LGBTQIA people who also face extrajudicial execution and police violence. Please make sure to especially think about and uplift Black trans women and Black sex workers who face criminalization and violence at multiple axes of oppression by a society and State who hates every single facet of their identities. 
Remember us. Remember that we matter. Our lives matter.

gradientlair:

@FeminstaJones started the hashtag #NMOS14 (National Moment of Silence, Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 7pm EST / 4pm PST; flyer designed by @alsorae) in memory of Michael Brown, the Black teenager who was extrajudicially executed in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s about all of the Black victims of extrajudicial execution and State violence (which is NOT the same as any race’s intraracial crime). 

People can set up #NMOS14 gatherings in their own cities (see the Facebook page for #NMOS14), all to occur at the same time mentioned above. Also, follow the #NMOS14 hashtag for information (and here’s an image to change your avi, if you choose.) If time/ability etc. prevents you from attending, you can join the conversation on Twitter. It’s about community and not any one leader to speak for all. So far several people have stepped up to create gatherings for their own cities. 

These gatherings are about acknowledging our loss, our pain, our humanity. We need moments to grieve. I find it gives me time to honor our humanity that’s denied anyway and is not an either/or thing in relation to our actions to fight anti-Blackness nor to our activism. The acknowledgement of Black humanity is a radical act in an anti-Black society. It is activism. Our primary activism, in fact. #NMOS14 is not “in place” of any other action people engage in nor is it tone policing, in my opinion. A moment needs to be had just like we know we do on a personal level with Black funeral rituals. Acknowledgment of grief matters.

Please make sure to uplift Black women who also face extrajudicial execution and police violence. Please make sure to uplift Black LGBTQIA people who also face extrajudicial execution and police violence. Please make sure to especially think about and uplift Black trans women and Black sex workers who face criminalization and violence at multiple axes of oppression by a society and State who hates every single facet of their identities. 

Remember us. Remember that we matter. Our lives matter.

Preoccupied…

I guess that’s a good word for what I’ve been lately. Between promoting Bet on Black and doing, you know, life, I’ve let the words get away from me, increasingly found my attention split, even as my thoughts continue to wander back here to this space.

So I’m back, again. Let’s go.

Posing after dance class.

Posing after dance class.


I’m Kenrya Rankin Naasel, a lifestyle + parenting expert who—after much prodding from her friends—decided to share her hippie-dippie Black chick mama life.