vigil for the fallen: reimagining safety, security, and prosperity for black lives

Columbia, SC
October 1, 2016

Community organizers Tianna Mills and Rachel Barringer opened this forum at the South Carolina State House to remember the lives taken and regularly threatened by police brutality and racial violence. Thankful to them for creating a healing space, openly confronting pain, and fostering a spirit for action amongst us all. They welcomed me to share a poem, we don’t-land, and then this speech, elaborating on the sentiment.

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Human essence doesn’t belong to this society, to these structures. Black people were a commodity and blackness, this culture, grew in opposition to the shackles, the chains, the lynchings, the rape. Violence. So when we gather in the street and we say no justice, no peace – we are revolutionary. Every time. When we demand to speak truth through creative expression, or demand political participation, when we speak truth directly to power. We carry on a tradition. Coming together like this is our right, and it has been our salvation.

State-sanctioned violence against black, brown, and native people in these United States is not new and it is not limited to police interaction. That cog in this machine is relatively new. The prison industrial complex, criminal justice system, and for-profit policing as they are now – these institutions were intended to preserve safety and security for some, from others when slavery was abolished and black people gained the rights of American citizenship bit by bit.

Now, are we surprised that they continue to do the same thing?

 

…what does safety, security, even prosperity as people – what does that mean to you? Economically, socially, politically?

 

I want to be clear that the impact of these structures manifest socially, economically, and politically, and we can see those intentions, to manipulate, marginalize, and dehumanize black people from slavery through to today.

But y’all can and SHOULD do your research. Look to contemporaries like Michelle Alexander, Te-nihisi Coates, Marc Lamont Hill as well as the work of those involved in relief civil rights movements. White people, you can also look to Tim Wise, Jane Elliot, Ann Braden.

From here, I want to speak to the present, and to our potential.

 

Wages are kept stagnant and welfare is stigmatized, as one in five children are food insecure in this, the richest land, the strongest country on Earth, as we say.

 

Now I know this election is a disheartening one. But let’s take a good hard look at this concept of “law and order” being thrown around on the right and used to delegitimize this movement further. We know it’s code for subjugating blackness. Again, this fascist fear-mongering rhetoric is not new.

But in its essence, what does safety and security look like to you? Is it a badge, a gun, a uniform, flashing lights? Is that all? What about community? Accountability? Access?

In this land – where freedom and bravery are supposedly paramount – the same structures, and folks within them, that justify (even reward) the police killings and the culture of excessive force, justify lead poisoning communities of color. See: Flint, Michigan.

Just as public education is underfunded and segregated, transportation and housing are disproportionately inaccessible to people of color. Wages are kept stagnant and welfare is stigmatized, as one in five children are food insecure in this, the richest land, the strongest country on Earth, as we say. Institutional priorities are fucked up and they’ve been fucked up.

 

It is a surrender to the status quo, an allegiance with no standard, without consideration for future generations or a real claim to our own future.

 

So I ask again, what does safety, security, even prosperity as people – what does that mean to you? Economically, socially, politically? As we gather here to affirm that Black Lives Matter, how will we apply that to the communities we live in and the organizations we support? Will we demand more of our elected officials – I’m talking local – school board, city councils, state – as we’ve seen in NC with the governor, etc.

So, when we “land”, when we settle and quiet down and comfortable, we continue a public passivity. It is a surrender to the status quo, an allegiance with no standard, without consideration for future generations or a real claim to our own future. We have to actively fight back, fight for more of what is right, always, and collectively – and in our own way. Some of us will be activists and organizers, some of us will educate through art or conversation; it is enough to be unapologetically ourselves and in those times we will encourage others to do the same.

Things must change for us, and for our children. Change is the only constant, and the secret of change – I think truly living change – is to focus all of this energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

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attention: documentary screening + discussion

The Mothership, recently known as two separate but loving entities, The Makery and Mercury Studio, was one of the first spaces I felt comfortable visiting and revisiting, often meeting people who nurture others with their craft and work that contributes to a more conscious community. (Much love to resident ray of furious sunshine, intersectional feminist and activist, and dear friend Christina Cameron of Cameron Vintage). I’m super grateful for the opportunity to interact with the space in a different way this Spring.

Love is action, work is a prayer, and now is a time to resist, take stock of what truly matters, and continue to fight for the good. Hope you can join us!

 

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Attention: An event series dedicated to creating space for forward facing conversations.

“Attention is the beginning of devotion” -Mary Oliver


Documentarian Josh Fox (“Gasland”) travels the globe to meet with global climate change “warriors” who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming. Funny and tragic, inspiring and enlightening, the film examines the intricately woven forces that threaten the stability of the planet and the lives of its inhabitants. – IMDB

The film will be followed by a short discussion of the themes and thoughts presented, and the ways we’re fighting climate change as a community in Durham.

All are welcome! Bring a friend.

This documentary gives us all a chance to appreciate what it is that humans are called to change our ways, advocate, and fight for on this Earth.

 

If you’d like to share or find resources at the event, let’s talk more.

 


about The Mothership

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We are a space to share, make, and collaborate on good work. Our downtown Durham home is a laboratory for ideas, stocked with resources and support for makers of all kind:

  • Workspace to sustain meaningful work
  • A retail shop to bring ideas out into the open
  • Event space to celebrate, gather, teach, and learn
  • A collaborative community founded on radical acceptance

Visit their digital space for more.

 

 

more, without | watch

 

don’t drink the water.

purity, always a commodity,

turned scarce.

on this trajectory, value lies

the closer we get to nothing.

 

what to do with the priceless

in capitalist courts?

– what argument have you to sustain?

 

surely, we are all

running out of excuses

on fractured lands,

with nowhere else to stand,

 

no more to call

home | resounding

heart | that distinct pumping

Earth \ our grounding

Mother \ life-giving

 

if the last holds the most,

why wait?

we are making a killing

 

(to be continued)

 

ss.

we don’t-land

once there you’ll see us everywhere

those who feel not here
very much aware
that 1. relativity grounds us,
gives weight to that floating 2. we feel,
comfortable highs at varying depths; within 3. we are titled
to be without 4. an insecurity is illusory at best

tethers loosed
when friction bore holes in well-worn philosophies,
tore, and rubbed our tender bits
raw

more than casualties of meant-to-be,
we revel in the promise of uncertainty
in lieu of any tangible truth
or allegiance to the tried
(beyond that it has been)

defer no dream
to the realm of banality,
to the constructs we see
5. crumble 6. under their grip,
7. the bullshit fist saturated with cowardice and
lies 8. neatly nestled into lies:
protect, serve, 9. kill
automatically, incidentally, thirsty-
10. eyed to deny human dignity,

through institutionalized manipulation
contemporary crusades of divine-
staked claim to human capital

imprisoned for the fee,
plundered at the chest
black and brown commodities
rich, [bullet-]warm bodies
for sake of “order” stifle,
as the guilty, gilded cold
line the limits of this land of the free

ours is not 11. the path of least resistance, nor conscience wiped clean,
oblivious, 12. guided along the seam of two dimensions 13. flat,
between 14. yells of this-and-that-and again;
15. plane tugged to extremes, 16. splaying monuments 17. to demise

we roam the fluid above,
navigate the unbound,
being
the stuff of it, self
+ human
in spite of

we remain
present, yet unfound

 

ss.