Scattered thoughts.

  • Those of us who are routinely asked to speak about or somehow on behalf of black people should stop moralizing to black populations. And get in the habit of affirming the right of black people to grieve and respond in whatever we see fit. AND affirming the fact that black people already ARE responding to violence in a range of ways. Black people are self-medicating, black people are praying, black people are throwing stones, black people are hugging their children, black people are making love to their partners, black people are organizing, black people are holding marches, black people are dancing, black people are teaching, black people are writing, etc..
  • Emotional responses are ok. I saw an fb post quoting Bishop Vashti McKenzie (who spoke at the morning services of Delta Sigma Theta’s Centennial Celebration) as saying “Don’t get mad. Make it right. Don’t get mad. Stand your ground.” There’s power in righteous anger. It’s possible to be angry and make it right at the same time.
  • Zimmerman isn’t free. He was found not guilty. But understand this. For the rest of his life, however long, he will not be able to eat, sleep, drink, without thinking about that night. The entire world knows who he is, and knows what he did. He will NEVER find respite. EVER. The Martin family will eventually find respite in their spiritual beliefs, in the fact that their cause was righteous, and in a loving community whose arms are open wide for them. There isn’t a place on earth he’ll find rest. Ever.
  • A number of marches and demonstrations are planned–in fact not three hours after the verdict there was a march down U. Street. Folks who plan such activities should understand that marches and demonstrations in general are NOT social movements. And for a variety of reasons they rarely BECOME social movements. To the extent folks want to take the range of activities black people are already doing and shunt them in the direction of political action….they should think about activities other than marches or demonstrations. These actions, in particular, tend to bleed off righteous anger, making it harder to engage in transformative political action.
  • Given the above…”what should we do?” In a discussion on fb, someone suggested we use Florida as a test case. Took the words right out of my mouth. One of the problems I have with the folk who argue that racism is permanent, unending, never changing, never ceasing, is that they ignore the agency black people (and subjugated minorities in general) have. Even with limited agency we have the ability to transform the world. I don’t believe there is a monolithic “black interest”, but in this instance we probably have something close to it. Thirty nine Florida state senators voted unanimously to support the law. Ninety-two state legislators voted for the law in the state house, while twenty voted against it. Just tossing an idea out there, how many of them can we punish? We are not powerless. We don’t lack agency.
  • The road is hard as hell. Stand your ground.

Originally published at lesterspence.com