Cleaning Out the Attic IV

(One of my more longer pieces, I wrote this after the death of the two policemen in New York. I was angered by the many things I was seeing over those few months and I decided to pen it all down. I’ve debated between recording a video for this, but for now I’ll just post it and whoever decides to read it will read it.)

SELF(LESS) PEOPLE

I’ve already said this
Once before
I will say it again

We don’t care
About other people’s problems
Until we FEEL like
The problem became ours
When really and truly
It was ours all along

It occurs to me
We as a society
Are selfish
We have become so self-absorbed
That unless important issues
Spill over into our backyards
We pay them no mind
For some of us
It doesn’t just have to spill over
It has to come in through the back door
And greet us in the living room
Before we are willing
To start paying attention

We are apathetic to the situation at hand

Even in my writing this
I am sure
There will be many
With blinders on
They see it, but don’t see it
They say they get it, but they don’t get it
These folks don’t even get the gist

Black Lives Matter
But that’s our problem
Right?
That’s an AFRICAN AMERICAN issue
Let’s let the Blacks deal with it
It’s what so many think
So many declaring
They’re tired of hearing our outcries
Little do they know
Some of us have been crying out
Everyday of our lives
It’s just more of us speaking up
—these days

No one cared about racial profiling
Until we weren’t the only ones
Being randomly selected for a traffic stop
Because they “looked suspicious”
No one cared until certain neighbors of ours
Had a harder time getting through airport
—security
Experiencing first hand
What it is to have people cringe at the sight
—of them
While throwing evil eyes
Not a second thought was given
Until some had the audacity
To try and enforce a law
That would give law enforcement the
—authority
To question one’s citizenship in this
—country
Imagine that
The good old US of A
With people being targeted
Based on their appearance

Huh…go figure…

We said Black Lives Matter
And a wave of people responded
By shouting
Shut up
All Lives Matter
Which is funny
Because my whole life
As an African American woman
I’ve been taught by society
Everyone’s life matters
Except mine

And that saying…
That saying—it irritates me
Because it has a double meaning
All Lives Matter
Including us, but excluding us
Simultaneously

All lives matter
Until it’s one of us
This has been our plight
For centuries
It’s been so long in fact
That most of us have gotten used to it
We mostly refuse it
And are unwilling to accept it
But were those of us
Who weren’t living in a fairytale
Surprised about those verdicts?
No, we weren’t.
We kind of expected it to happen
Just like it’s no surprise
When black men are being exonerated
Ten, twenty, thirty years later
After serving time in prison
For crimes they had not committed
One would think
We would be used to this stuff by now
But somehow
The shock is still just as sharp
And as painful
As it was the first time
And honestly many had become complacent
Yet certain events that have occurred
Were enough to shake the dead out of
—their graves

Some write it off as simply coincidence
I ask those people
How many times does a coincidence
Have to “coincidently” occur
Before that coincidence becomes a fact?
Because the fact is
All lives do matter
But the unwritten and understood part
Is that All Lives Matter…
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<…Except Those Who Are Black

And let’s be very honest for a moment
Not a lot of people
Care about Black people
Save for those brave few
Who are willing to listen
Sit down and talk
Then rise up
And stand with the rest of us against these
—injustices
Even if it means losing respect
From their own family and friends
Even if it means
Having to oppose some of the very ones
They chose to stand with
“They’re not Black.
How could they possibly understand?
Get lost—you’re not welcome on this
—team!”

No,
A non-African American
Will never fully grasp
What it is or what it means
To be African American
But
Just because they don’t look like us
Does not automatically disqualify them
For joining in the fight
We cannot presume
A person who’s not Black
Has not been immersed in our culture
Meaning
They grew up in a predominantly Black
—neighborhood,
May have several close friends who are
—Black,
A Black spouse and mixed children
Someone who’s pretty much been around
Black people all their life
And even if they haven’t
They were still very aware
Of the ignorant and unspeakable acts
Committed against our people

Some of them are also mistreated
Just for choosing not to side with intolerance

We should embrace them, not reject them

And while we’re still being honest,
Let’s open up another can of worms
Because a lot of people don’t care
—about Black people
But a lot of Black people don’t care
—about Black people
Either
And I’m not just referring to the
Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimas

It’s true
Take a look at the news
White cop
Kills unarmed Black man
And we’re flooding the streets
White man
Kills Black man
We scream no justice, no peace
But Black man
Kills Black man
And
Nothing
Not a peep

Black man
Sells dope
Pushes in Black community
We make excuses
Say he’s just trying to make a hustle
Feed his family
All while we allow him to kill ours

Black man
Recruits Black kids
To rep a set, wear his colors
And throw some gang signs up
Convinces them jail time
Won’t be as bad for them
Because they’re a minor so they’ll
—get a lighter sentence
And we all know that’s not true because
—look at how many are tried as adults
Then those same Black men
Enforce a “no-snitching” policy
To do whatever damage they want
As they brainwash the same Black community
—they are terrorizing
Into letting them get away
Scott free
Because if anyone dares to report them
—to the police
Then that person is the enemy
Not them

Now how interesting is that?

We get angry when someone
Who doesn’t look like us
Takes the life
Of one of us
Show up in droves
But I ask
Where in the world were we
When African American children
Were becoming
And still are
The largest number of kids
Struggling with math and literacy?
Where were we
When the number of Black on Black
—crime
Became significantly higher
Than the hate crimes of the KKK?
Where were the protests,
Where were these rebels, revolutionaries
And newly become activists
When our community began to spiral
And quickly fall apart?
When we don’t know who we are
—anymore
Because we’re waiting for someone else
To tell us
Literally tell us
Because too many of us are reluctant to pick
—up a book
And read our own history for ourselves?

But I suppose…as angry as that makes me…
That’s all besides the point now, isn’t it?
Because the point is
A lot of us are finally beginning to be
More concerned about us
We’re here
Black people and non-Black alike
We’re here

Still
While people are showing up
Coming together
Too many come in ignorance
And that, my friend, is a disservice
To us all

But we’ll get to that in a moment…

It’s all very disturbing to me
How someone can refuse to see
Or hear my pain
Because it isn’t happening to them
Therefore it isn’t happening at all
How they can write me off
Say we’re all hurting
Or dealing with something
But that it’s been the best it ever has in years
For whom?
Why?
Because a few amendments were put
—in place?
I heard a poet say once
That a piece of paper did not abolish
Racism, discrimination or prejudice
So who exactly has it been the best for?
Because on my side of the line nothing has
—changed
Same game, new players
And every once in awhile
New rules
I don’t get it when they ignore it
Deny it all the daylong
Yet are slowly erasing us
From a history book
And erase, they might
But it still doesn’t make the truth
Any less true than what it is
Yes,
It baffles me how somebody can claim
Very tactfully
That each of our lives,
Regardless of race,
Are significant
Then turn right around in the same
—breath
And make my life feel insignificant
Do you know how much skill that takes?
What an art form that must be!

What an even greater art
For someone to practice hypocrisy
And not recognize themselves
As the biggest hypocrite there is
For one to live a life
Chalk full of double standards
Labeling oneself with a word
Born from ignorance
Transforming it into a degenerate form
Creating and branding a regressive
—populous of people
Then when someone with differing
—ethnicity
Calls them by the very label they placed
—on their head
That same one get belligerent
Insisting it’s only a term of endearment
When someone who looks like them
Uses it
Yes
It must have taken years to develop
An ability like that
How can they sit back
And not care about the laws
That their ancestors helped put in place
Being stripped away
Until it hits close to home
And even in that instance
They are concerned but only for an instant
Then it’s back to the same old, same old
They don’t have time for all that
Because Love and Hip Hop is on
Killing each other
Over tennis shoes and headphones
And they’ll still fight each other
And spend rent money to get it
Now what a skill THAT is

Both share the ability to be ignorant of their own ignorance

Black, Brown, White, Red, Yellow
We’re all one
We’re all equal
Save for when one of us has a problem
We reach out only to hear
“What does that have to do with me?”
And that goes across the board

I know I personally have been guilty
Of hearing the indignations
From those of similar conflicts
And thought to myself,
“And? So what?
Now you know how I feel.”

For instance
I observed how a few
Were nonchalant
Or had nothing to say
In regards to Trayvon Martin
Ferguson
And Eric Garner
But when two NYPD officers
One Asian, one Hispanic or Latino
Were killed while doing their job
Who had no idea that day would be
Their last day on earth
Suddenly
They felt compelled to give rants
And speeches of their own
I guess it makes a difference
When it’s one of your own

My feeling is this
If you’re going to be for something
Be for something
But don’t say you “feel me”
Just because you like my
Quote unquote
Food, music, fashion and culture
But don’t really like my people
Don’t do that
What happened to those officers is tragic
It sorrows me even more
To hear a mass of people chanting,
“We want dead cops!”

But it also saddens me
That Trayvon was gunned down
Because he wore a hoodie
I often wonder
Would Eric still be with his kids
If he hadn’t resisted arrest
I acknowledge what Mike did was wrong
He shouldn’t have strong-armed that man
Of the convenience store he stole from
But it doesn’t justify
Shooting him multiple times
It’s horrible
That a man used them as a cover
For his rampage on NYPD
After shooting his girlfriend
Then taking his own life

People are angry
And afraid
Everywhere

If you were a policeman
And you had a target on your back
Would you really hesitate
To shoot first and ask questions later?
Especially when you know
That someone is willing to take your life
No questions asked?
But your fellow officers weren’t even given
—a chance to defend themselves
Could you honestly say you wouldn’t
—be nervous
When you are very aware
Everyone sees you as the bad guy
Because you wear a uniform just like that
—other guy,
When your badge becomes a scarlet letter
All because of bad cops
Who, unfortunately, are still on the force?

Even still,
If the melanin you were born with
Gives you a scarlet letter of your own
Would you not also be upset and afraid?
You can’t tell me
That you wouldn’t find it pathetic
To have to pass down the same lessons
Your parents had passed on to them:
>>>When the officer stops you
>>>Keep your hands on the steering wheel
>>>Don’t speak unless spoken to
>>>Don’t move unless directed
>>>Move carefully, but not too slow nor too quick
>>>And if you’re lucky
>>>You can go on with life and pretend
>>>As though none of it ever happened
You do everything you were taught
And you’re still met with opposition
Wouldn’t you be angry, too
If every time you try to bring these issues up
You’re told to be quiet
And to get over it?

If you can sit there
And deny either one of these
You’re a bold faced liar

One person’s problem
Is everybody’s problem
This is not just a
Black issue
Or White issue
Brown, Red, or Yellow issue
This is a PEOPLE issue
Whether directly or indirectly
We’re all affected by it somehow
Someway
And in life everybody gets a turn
So just because it’s not your today
Doesn’t mean it won’t be you crying out
—for justice
Tomorrow

Hate begets hate
It doesn’t change anything
It just makes things worse
And wanting a person to pretend
Like nothing is wrong
And stop with all the race talks
So they don’t make the rest
Uncomfortable
Is equally as tragic

However, I will say this

If you are going to protest
Protest with a purpose
These things you are protesting about
Are important
But they are much bigger than you
This is not about photo ops
Or having a feel-good moment
A pat yourself on the back high five chance
To say you did something
“Radical”
So don’t get out there
Seeking your 15 minutes of fame
And prancing about for a couple of minutes
Just so you can call up folks afterwards
Telling them to tune in to channel such
—and such
Hoping they’ll spot you in the crowd
It has nothing at all to do
With being seen just be seen

Protesting with a purpose
Creates change
Things change for the better
That’s suppose to be the point after all of this
People get educated
And become well-informed about their
—local government, state laws,
This country and how it all works
They actively engage into a fight
That’s been going on for a very long time
And fight the smart way
Because rock beats scissors
But pen beats sword
Protesting draws attention but it does
—not make a pen move
Rioting and tearing stuff up
Only makes a lawmaker say,
“See. I told you—I rest my case.”

It also means recognizing
The fight is never over
But it is only the beginning
Because Martin Luther King
Was only one of many
Who got us over one more hurdle
But there are still several more to go
Racism and its siblings
Do not just disappear over night
This is an on-going battle
And a never ending process
Because as long as ignorance exists
It’s children will always be near

If you can fight behind
Girlfriends, boyfriends,
Street blocks, family names,
Money owed from a card game,
If you can fight
Behind some of the most petty
And irrelevant things
Then what is stopping you
From fighting for something that is
—actually important?

And to you
My non-African American
Brothers and sisters
Neighbors and friends
If you say
That ALL lives matter
Then what is stopping you
From joining in the fight
Of protecting Black lives?

The truth is
We are selfish
And ignorant
Violence and chaos
Ensuing all about us
And we don’t care
Didn’t care
Like we should have
Because we said not me, not my problem

And again,
I will remind you
Everybody gets a turn
If we continue with that same
Mentality
Then one day
It will be your turn
But there will be none left to defend you
Because you were too busy
Worrying about yourselves
So when that time comes
You will seek aid, but there will be none

Because there will be no one left to aid you

There will be no one left

I look out today
As I do most days
As I have done for most of my life
And I think to myself

Who among us will take a stand?
Who among us is left?

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