Let’s Get Free
Anger and humor are like the left and right arm, they complement each other. Anger empowers the poor to declare their uncompromising opposition to oppression and humor prevents them from being consumed by their fury.”
James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree
It’s been twenty years since Dead Prez dropped their debut album Let’s Get Free and took aim at the police abuse that became all too rampant in the decade earlier.
Ironically enough, it has been 99 years since the brutal destruction of one of America’s wealthiest black enclaves. We know this event as the Tulsa Massacre. Now we find ourselves locked amid yet another racial rebellion in response to conditions that have yet to change.
Every year without fail the black delegation finds ourselves exposed to more trauma as another paid public servant murder someone they are apprehending and yet again we find the response to the incident insufficient. America has shown us over and over that there are many things that trump the life of black people: animals, property, and businesses, but not black men and women.
For us the lives of our comrades are everything. They are a permanent memento and a reminder of how this system rewards those unlucky enough to be caught up in its crosshairs. To our supposed allies, it is an unwelcome reminder that the land of the free is not as perfect as it seems.
Seeing our rage on social media haunts their peace and corrodes their sense of comfort knowing that though they espouse the greatness and equality of this country, it still finds ways daily to show how hypocritical and self-serving it really is deep down. Unfortunately, when the pain gets too deep, they can retreat and drown it in their own lives where they can safely assure themselves that they are not like those men who murdered these citizens.
The pain, uncertainty, and bleakness we have all felt this weekend has brought us to a chasm: Where do we go from here? Do we advocate for a return to normalcy and aim to “fix” things during election season, or do we push for change by any means necessary?
For those who study history and are familiar with radical movements, one of the major things that prevented them from succeeding or maintaining their progress was a lack of understanding of the causes, effects, and aims of the revolution.
Fred Hampton, the Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, advocated for this notion vehemently in several speeches. His belief was that if the people were unaware of why they needed to rebel and ignorant of what the goals were, they would indeed get trapped into the distractions that come with rebelling against the system such as the desire for power or greed. To summarize in short, the oppressed become the oppressor if we don’t get people to understand denying people access to equal slices of pie is the oppression regardless of color.
So if we want to make sure we educate our people, we must make a push both in the school system but in other social settings as well to emphasize the need for an understanding of social, economic, political, and spiritual texts and leaders.
There are many ways for people to serve the people whether it is leading the charge with protests, bailing and defending political prisoners, educating others, and preserving the stories of our communities. As essential as it is to educate, organize, and be active in your community, the biggest and most essential component of the fight is your own home base.
One of the major structures for survival in our communities has always been our families. Regardless of how badly we fared in society, one constant has always been the nuclear family structure. That isn’t the case nowadays. Rather than bemoan and blame various government programs, music, or drugs, I instead say that from now on it is essential that we focus on two major fronts which are making sure we bring forward children in stable families and we work to teach them financial literacy while leaving behind wealth.
Stable families are families that work together to ensure that their children see functional and healthy examples of love, collaboration, and respect. Financial literacy includes not only effective money-saving and investing methods but also helping our children find their passion and mix it in with a viable skillset. Considering the bleak statistics on wealth in our communities, this is a non-negotiable going forth.
Ultimately, there can be no black community if there are no black people. We must make sure that our people are properly prepared for the physical and emotional warfare being thrown at them. The assault on our health because of generations of poor eating habits and nutrition is just one of the many things we have to address. We also have to think seriously about the outstanding rates of sexual violence our citizens face as they maneuver through their youth and teenage years.
Our boys need extensive social and emotional learning to not only reinforce emotional intelligence but also to show them their true role is to protect women. Our girls need extensive social and emotional learning as well followed by adequate physical self-defense training. My hope is one day it will not be necessary but as a strategist, I always feel it is best to dream for the world I want and train for the world I exist in.
Progressive gatekeepers like pastors and principals will have to use their platform to partner with organizations geared towards community safety like gun clubs to ensure the population is informed and prepared to defend themselves.
We need to focus on educating ourselves first and then our youth properly by focusing on sources of pride and practicality. Next, we will need to promote the importance of building and maintaining the family structure and using it to gain an advantage in life.
Last, we will need to make sure that the population is not only fit physically but mentally. I don’t believe that there will ever be a day where there is no inequity, but I do believe that we can raise our kids as if that day is here.