July 18, 2013 by mishagabrielle
“I feel really blessed to be in a space like BOP. It’s a healing space. …..I feel like we’re doing a lot and what we’re doing has impact,” -BOP member Mirishae McDonald.
The jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on all charges in the case against him for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Since then, we’ve watched media across the country become saturated with all sorts of perspectives on the case, and what this means for us.
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.”
For people everywhere, but specifically for people in Oakland at this time, it is the repeat failure of the system to value Black life that we’ve seen happen over-and-over again which has many of us feeling angry, sad, hurt and numb.
What we’re feeling are some of the same emotions we felt when Johannes Mehserle walked away with time served for the murder of Oscar Grant. It’s the same feeling we felt for Derrick Jones, Raheim Brown and Alan Blueford and countless others murdered or brutalized by police officers who were deemed not guilty while so many more of us have been deemed “guilty” and pushed into jails and prisons with no expensive team of lawyers to defend us.
Even more at stake with this verdict, is not only our bodies and the perpetual question of the value of Black human life, but also at stake is our very souls. We are fighting against something that was familiar to our ancestors. Our neighborhoods, schools, homes and consciousness are filled with constant reminders that in this country under this system, we are not safe, we are not protected and obviously justice doesn’t apply to us.
We are reminded that what happened to Emmett Till in 1955 can still happen in 2013. The purpose of lynching was murder but more than that it was to send a message of fear and hopelessness that would turn freedom fighters docile and make cries for equality quieter. In 2013 white hooded vigilantes may not hang our children from trees but now they leave their blood on sidewalks and make no mistake that the message is still that we should hang our heads low, we should give up, we should become apathetic, we should be eaten alive with silent rage.
But just like the generations of people before who have stood in the face of continuous degradation, attempts of genocide, abuse and disappointment, we remain strong in the fight for justice and to be recognized as human. What really confuses our enemy is that we keep believing, loving and shouting our victory into the atmosphere. Our voice is the hope that our ancestors fought for and it is destined to bring the walls of injustice down.
Through our grief, we will love ourselves, love our people, and fight even harder for that love. We have to stand together, support each other, and support the fight for social and racial justice. We are not just fighting for all of our sons and daughters but we are fighting with them. In the words of Stokely Charmichael, “Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation’s out of breath. We ain’t running no more.”