Thursday, August 07, 2014

Renisha McBride: Sweet Victory

This murder broke me from the inside out: a young black woman (a teenager!) with a dead cell phone wrecks her car in an unfamiliar (white) neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, knocks on a random door for assistance and gets shot in the face with a 12 gauge shotgun by none other than a middle aged white man who -- irony of ironies! -- "didn't want to be a victim".

It could have been me.

We've seen this scemario before, haven't we. The media roasts the victim while the "victim" awaits their inevitable "not guilty" plea. And I must say, they've got their routine down pat.  As if on cue, Fox News went in on Renisha's character, her background, her past -- whatever they could sensationalize with the usual white (male) conservative malaise.  In the meantime, Mr. Wafer told the cops the gun discharged accidentally. During the trial, he said he shot her in self-defense. After about a month of the pomp and formality of a trial, expert testimonies and a river of tears from Mr. Wafer himself, something inside of me began to numb out a little.  I remember thinking that if he went free, that would mean that violence against  black women would be condoned, sanctioned even. But it already is, in a myriad of ways.

Why should anyone expect justice for Renisha? They had video on Rodney King and none of those cops saw the inside of a jail cell.  After his latest misadventure -- brandishing a loaded gun at his pregnant girlfriend -- even Florida cops think George Zimmerman should be in jail before he "accidentally" murders someone else.  And then there's Marissa Alexander. She stood her ground -- and now she's facing 60 years for firing a warning shot.

And then, out of nowhere, the unthinkable happened: the jury returns with a guilty verdict on the second day of deliberations for all three counts.  Michigan, you have done the nation proud.  This is the one place in this country where you can't shoot first and ask questions later. Now let's wrap this up and send him to jail for the rest of his natural life. Selah.

My question is, why didn't he call 911 when he heard a suspicious noise on his porch?  If you are safely tucked behind two locked doors, why would you open them to shoot someone? Why did he find his 12 gauge shotgun quicker than he found his cellphone?  That he has the brass to breeze past that last one -- and in tears, no less -- was nuts. He just knew he'd walk. 

In a world where more white people believe in ghosts than racism, where the military enacts regulations and strict codes against black women's hair in its natural state, where those who are privileged and entitled are convinced they are not, where the past is rewritten or forgotten at random, willful ignorance flourishes and we are rendered invisible by the media, by the entertainment industry, by the government, by gentrification -- in a world where there is no justice and very little peace, the unthinkable has happened.  We won. In Detroit!

To see Mr. Wafer's testimony, watch the video below.

Now if they'd just stop chasing Assata Shakur...

Monday, August 04, 2014

Quote of the Day -- from Stokely Carmichael

"I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. (applause) For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, ‘He’s a human being; don’t stop him.’ That bill was for that white man, not for me. I knew it all the time. (applause, cheers) I knew it all the time.

I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill for white people to tell them, ‘When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.’ That bill, again, was for white people, not for black people.
So that when you talk about open occupancy, I know I can live anyplace I want to live. It is white people across this country who are incapable of allowing me to live where I want to live. You need a civil rights bill, not me. I know I can live where I want to live.”

                                       - Stokely Carmichael, 29 OCTOBER 1966

Friday, August 01, 2014

What is mnemonic, anyway?

A mnemonic is a device -- any device, tangible or intangible -- that assists in remembering something.  As an actor that's had to ingest iambic pentameter whole and spit it out at will, I'm well acquainted with this idea. Strangely, I've never given it a name.  Yeesh -- I never knew this had a name. 

And what is bullet journaling, anyway? Sounds like a gigantic, well-organized to-do list.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy birthday, Emmett Till

If he hadn't been kidnapped in the dead of night and murdered by Roy Bryant and his half brother JW Milam for whistling at Mr. Bryant's wife Carolyn on a dare, Emmett Till would be 73 years old today.

It really wasn't that long ago, was it.

The nation (read: white people) couldn't believe that an all white, all male jury took less than an hour to deliver a not guilty verdict. They really couldn't believe that they weren't ever brought up on kidnapping charges. The kicker for the rest of the world was that nobody in Mississippi (read: white people) seemed to care. It was just another day, same as any other -- except it wasn't. This became the spark that started the civil rights movement. To read an account of the murder trial, click here. If you'd like to read the killer's confessions as published in the January 1956 issue of Look magazine (including letters to the editor -- some of which are straight up creepy), click here. To view the documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, watch below.

The widow of one of the killers -- Juanita Milam -- died recently. Hm. I wonder where Mrs. Carolyn Bryant is now?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

TONIGHT: Queen Esther at Bushwick Burlesque!

Yep, that's right: yours truly will be performing -- singing, folks, not stripping (!!!) -- at Bushwick Burlesque tonight, in a bar called Bizarre. The show starts at 9pm, there's a $7 suggested cover and it will be way, way too much fun.

I love this hot little gig. It makes me feel like I finally ran away and joined the circus.

Hosted by Fancy Feast and Scary Ben (with Dick Jones taking care of pick up!) the line-up includes:

DJ Johnny Horrible
Chris McDaniel
Rosie 151
Apathy Angel
Witti Repartee
Cherry Typhoon (Japan/ Canada)
Baron (Japan)
Leena Vie (India)
...and yours truly!

Here's Pearl Noire, going for broke at a Bushwick Burlesque a few months ago...