The Nipsey Effect

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If they knocked off Nipsey then they can knock off anyone. And I suppose that I always knew that but it’s very rare that I feel it as acutely as I do right now.

Today I grieve for Nipsey and I also grieve for Sean Scott my childhood friend who was murdered in 2005. Today is his birthday. He would have been 37 years old. I used to think that I would outgrow the anxiety associated with being a black man and fearing a violent death just about everyday of my life. I realize now that I’ve just learned to cope with it largely through neglect. What the murder of Nipsey Hussle is doing is making a lot of people, particularly black men, consider the event of their own tragic death and face the reality that no matter how brilliant, devoted, talented, loving, inspiring and righteous you may be there’s always a ni**a somewhere waiting to kill you.

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Mourning the Death of a Savior

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Nipsey Hussle was murdered yesterday in front of a clothing store that he owned. He was murdered at the age of 33, the same age that Jesus was when he was nailed to the cross. Police are now saying that he was murdered by someone that he knew and that it was over a personal dispute. Initially people on social media were saying that it was a government conspiracy due to his upcoming documentary on the life of Dr. Sebi, a controversial figure who claimed to have found the cure to AIDS and other STD’s. But now the energy has shifted back to us. Back to the ghetto, and back to the self-hatred that is so pervasive in the black body. This plague has consumed Nipsey, who was a manifestation of hope in a very confounding era in which the blind are somehow able to amass extremely large followings and those who sleep on the traditions of our ancestors loudly proclaim to be woke.

 

As I sit here writing, the waves of pain are crashing against my consciousness. Particularly as I write the word was in regards to Nipsey. For everything that he did was for the future of black people—future economic empowerment, future financial literacy, future black ownership of the hood—and now he will be forever relegated to the past. We will have to speak of him in the same cryptic “what if” language in which we speak of Tupac Shakur. Each time we see his profound intellect displayed during an interview, or hear him spitting rhymes over a gangsta beat, instead of bobbing our heads we will instinctively hold them—both hands pressed against our foreheads— and say “Damn.” A man so full of light who escaped a life sentence in the penitentiary, poverty, disease, ignorance and all the other symptoms of ghetto America should not have to spend the rest of eternity trapped in the past tense. There was so much more unifying that he could have done.

Nipsey, for those of you who may not know, was the solution. If one were to go to any barbershop in any hood in this country and pose the question “What needs to be done in order to turn this community around?” People will inevitably say young people need jobs, instead of liquor stores we need more black owned businesses, the young people need a leader that will inspire them. Nipsey provided all of these things. He carried the faith of downtrodden on his back just as gracefully as he dawned the words SLAUSON BOY in the form of a tattoo between his shoulder blades.

He was at once the descendant of American slaves on his mother’s side and of a son of the Abyssinian Empire on his father’s side. Nipsey was royalty. He was mixed with those that rose up from slavery and those who refused to be colonized. Indeed, the best blood of Africa coursed through his veins. Blood that was unfortunately spilled on the pavement in the rolling 60’s neighborhood that he loved so dearly. A community which he was committed to uplifting.

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Nipsey is dead now. Having been murdered less than 48 hours ago. He leaves two children, one girlfriend, and a legacy of love and power. And though he left too soon, he left a blueprint on the possibility of collective empowerment for a group of people that have been systematic stripped of such a concept. He will be missed by many, especially this writer. Rest easy Nip. I will ride for you. I will write for you and I will hustle hard in your honor.

Roger Porter

Serving my sentence alone

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Let the sun shine down on the pavement. Let the rain wash away all of the blood. The gunpowder residue is still on my fingers. I’m not thinking about escaping charges, I’m only thinking about who will have the power to tell my story.

 

If they told you I was a depraved killer would you believe them, even though you have been knowing me since my childhood. When they whispered into your ear what they found out, would you question them or would you go along with the lie? Would you smile as they carried me off to prison in an effort to protect your social standing while shaking your head slowly and dramatically, uttering softly but loud enough for your colleagues to hear; “I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen to me.”

 

If you came to see me after the judgement came down and I spoke my truth, would it matter? Would you place my voice over that of the journalists, the prosecution, and the alleged victim? Would you give me your faith? Can you believe in something that you have not seen when everyone else tells you that it is a lie? Are there any limitations in your love for me? Is there anything that you would sacrifice me for?

 

Let me know the answer right now so, if need be, I can sever myself from the all of the memories that I have of me worshipping you. I hope that you will never be totally aware of all of the ways in which I used to lionize you when I was young man. I spent my whole childhood looking for you. I probably regarded you as some kind of prophet in my undeveloped mind, but to you I was just a follower. And now you can no longer prop yourself upon my bowed head. This boy has now grown high enough to look you in the eyes. I look into them and see no prophet, nor lion. I do not see a revolutionary nor do I see a rebel. I only see a man with a loud voice and a little heart. I do not know what will happen with you. I do know, however, that I will be serving my sentence alone. These are the terms that I must embrace.

-Roger Porter

The #Metoo Movement Cancels Martin

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If Martin Luther King were alive today, then he would be canceled on black twitter and ultimately charged for perceived sexual abuses in the 1950’s and 1960’s. All of his allies would be afraid to speak up for him because they wouldn’t want to be labeled a rape apologist or a misogynist. Upon his arrest the hash tag #metoo would once again go viral.

We all know that the #metoo movement, similar to the United States Justice system, is thriving off of the criminalization of black men. Just in case you haven’t been doing your research, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked for decades of sexual abuse—he will not be charged with a crime. Wealthy democratic donor Ed Buck is yet to be charged with a crime even though two dead black bodies—male prostitutes that he drugged and exploited—were found in his house. R. Kelly on the other hand has been arrested twice in a span of a few weeks. Bill Cosby is in prison right now and I’m wondering how can we possibly call this the day of reckoning. How does arresting black men somehow symbolize revolutionary change and an end to patriarchy? Black men are the most incarcerated group of people in the country. This has always been true since slavery ended and black men were forced to work on chain gangs. But alas, in 2019 people have decided to put gender ahead of race for political purposes. In the black community this is creating a chaotic cultural scene in which radical black intersectional feminists are leading the charge in holding famous black men accountable for past indiscretions. And this wouldn’t be a problem if other groups of women were holding their men accountable in a similar fashion, but they aren’t. There has been no talk of networks refusing to play Woody Allen or Roman Polanski movies or films produced by Harvey Weinstein, yet there is no radio station in America that would dare play a song by R. Kelly. This leads to a scenario in which no major black male figure, dead or alive (please see Michael Jackson) is safe from being destroyed.

It shouldn’t be difficult to visualize the headline from the online magazine The Root reading “90-year-old Defamed Former Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr, Booked in Fulton County Jail on Dozens of Sexual Misconduct Charges.” The comment section would read as follows.

Lucretia Wilkins. Yaaaaassssss! I have a dream that we finally caught a damn predator. He already seen the mountain top now he can see the penitentiary. Pshhh, boy bye. 297 Likes 60 Haha’s 50 loves

Jamal Eunuch TysonWe need to end toxic masculinity in the black Baptist Church at all costs. He’s a SERIAL ABUSER! I don’t even know why Coretta is still with his sick ass to tell you the truth. I stand with my queens. I stand with the victims. Ase. #believeallblackwomen 150 likes 90 Loves

Queer Black Child Oh my lordt! I’m gettin so sick of deez niccas defendin him. We are not talkin bout da Catholic Church boo. Sorry. Ion care what he did in da damn 1960’s. Uh abuser is uh abuser. Stop making excuses for dat old pervert. I like sittin in da back uh da bus anyway. Lock his ass up! 80 likes 75 hahas

The reverend would be canceled without any pushback. We would stop listening to his speeches and he would die in prison. Upon him initially being charged we would call it progress. We would call it being woke and we would celebrate, never questioning whether or not we were being used by white supremacists to carry out their racist agenda on our own people.

-Roger Porter

The East Bay Express

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The fourteen-year old boy shared a small room with his older brother. In the room, there were two windows about four feet apart on separate walls.  The windows were totally bare except for pages of the East Bay Express that were taped across them. The carpet was old and brown. Yellow paint peeled away from the cracked ceiling. On nights such as this one when his older brother came home, the fourteen year would open his eyes as soon as his brother stepped in the room but he would still play sleep. He would put the cover over his head and fake snore as he heard the lamp being turned on. The gold chains being placed on the dresser, followed by the gold rings, the roll of money, and finally the grill. Then he would hear the lamplight turnoff.

Silence. Darkness. He was slowly dozing back to sleep.

“You been jacking off little nigga?”

Giggles! Then muffled laughter almost to the point of hysteria.

“Shhhhh. You gone wake up Mama and the girls,” the older brother said alluding to his mother and two younger sisters in the other room.

“Nah, I don’t be doing that.”

“Stop lying dammit. It’s hella hot in this room. You was probably jacking yo little dick before I came in here. Thinking about um. Um, what’s the girl name? LaTriece?…”

“I don’t know who you talking bout.”

“Oh you know who I’m talking about. The little dark skinned girl with the dimples.”

“LaShelle?”

“Yes dammit, LaShalle.”

They whispered to one another as if they were in a very dark library, knowing that their mother was more than likely awake and if she was awake then she could definitely hear them through the walls.  But they kept on. The fourteen-year-old totally up now and smiling with every word he spoke.

“LaShelle don’t even go there no more. She moved to Antioch.”

“That don’t mean you can’t jack off to those memories.”

Muffled laughter into the pillow.

“You probably jack off with your left hand too huh? Just to switch it up huh?”

The fourteen-year-old couldn’t help it. He laughed out loud until he gagged. Just then their mother knocked on the door four times in rapid succession.

“GO TO SLEEP!” She said from the hallway.

“Sorry,” the fourteen-year-old said.

The older child said nothing.

They continued to whisper. The fourteen-year-old now fully into his story about N’yesha the new girl in school who sat on his lap at lunchtime and she didn’t even know him and she has a boyfriend. He propped himself up on his elbow and relayed the story as if it were the most salacious scandal the world had ever seen. It must have been because she found out he was on the basketball team, he reasoned. Of course that meant he had to tell his brother all about practice because the two of them were only in the same room together about once every three days so he had to cram everything in.  As soon as the fourteen-year-old began to tell his bro about the fight he almost had with Dwayne over a hard foul, the older brother said:

 

“Alright dude, you got class in the morning. Go to sleep.”

Thirty seconds later he was snoring leaving his little brother wide awake and in awe. It was crazy because in an ideal world the older brother would have class in the morning too. He would be a senior preparing to graduate and go off to college. He would obey curfew and have a job at Jamba Juice or Round Tables Pizza or something like that. But their world was absolutely not ideal. Their world was real and for at least one of them being a square was not an option. The fourteen-year-old’s eyes had now totally adjusted to the darkness and he would not be able to go back to sleep before his alarm clock went off. All he could do was listen to the rhythm of his big brother’s snoring, until the sun rays lit up the pages of the East Bay Express that were taped to the window.

-Roger Porter

Love Language

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He had been going to group ever since he got out of the hole, however, he only participated in the conversation minimally. He said his name. He checked in. He briefly smiled when something was funny and that was the extent of his interactions. But what was being discussed in this session really struck him. The topic made him push his shoulder blades back hard against his chair. This talk about love languages was bizarre to him. It was both engaging and very hoakey at the same time. To have a whole conversation about humans show love was hilarious. He didn’t laugh though. He tried to never laugh out loud in the penitentiary. He felt like it was a liability. So he just smiled for a minute while he threw the concept of “Love Language” around in his head. Dr. Joanne was laying all of the languages out but none of them really resonated with him. She talked about physical touch and that one kind of made sense but it was still off in a sense.

 

There were eight other convicts there—four Mexicans, three blacks and a Cambodian. He was the only white guy. Presently people were being asked by Dr. Joanne to share their love language and he started to panic a little bit. He felt like whatever his was it hadn’t been discussed yet. There was a black inmate who was right before him and started going on and on about Quality Time. And how the essence of love is the time you spend with people because your voluntarily giving pieces of your life to someone. Then he started talking about how time is the most precious thing that we have and the white man knows that, which is why when you get in trouble he takes away your time and throws you in prison. The blacks said “Hmmmm” in approval and nodded their heads. It was all cool. It just gave him more time to think. By the time it was his turn he was ready.

 

“Violence,” he said. “My love language is violence.”

 

Dr. Joanne looked down her nose at him so he went on.

 

“I don’t mean like in a super tough guy kind of way. I just mean that everyone that has ever loved me has either kicked my ass or tried too. When my father was in between jobs he used to punch us in the face for not ironing our clothes, or talking back, or playing in the house or sleeping too long. Whatever we did was a problem you know. When he did have a job he would beat us for being ungrateful or wearing our shoes out too fast. Then when he didn’t come home my mother would beat us because she was worried or lonely or because she didn’t want us to be like him when we grew up. I got a little older and got bullied at school. One day I couldn’t take it anymore so I chased the bully home with a knife. When he finally came back to school, he wanted to be my best friend. It’s like until I pulled that blade on him I wasn’t a fucking human being you know. Sorry about the language Doctor. So after that he became my closest friend.

 

So a few years ago I got a woman. And uh, you know she’s pretty and all that. Things are going good. Then one day she gets on my case for drinking. Like she’s really screaming and crying and just going all out. And uh, I punch her. She falls. I panic and I go back to the bar to finish drinking. And that’s where they arrested me.

My point is, I loved her. It’s weird. I still love her. I just uh, I don’t know. Obviously, her love language is different than mine and uh, I need to spend some time learning a different language because I have 18 months left on my sentence and when I get out I’m never coming back to this fucking place again. Excuse my language.”

He smiled briefly.

“Thank you Chris,” Dr. Joanne said. “We’ll talk more about it next Wednesday. This concludes our group session guys. Thank you all. I really appreciated hearing your voices.”

-Roger Porter

Erasing memories for the Cause

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I recently unloved my favorite painting because I found out he artist had a fetish for underage Polynesian girls. Then I unloved all the slow jams that I made love to in undergrad. Finally, I took it a step further and rendered myself unmotivated by the song we sang at my 9th grade promotion. After all, I am a fully-grown woke man. Why the fuck would I ever want to fly?

 

It’s like a few years ago when they came out with this Nat Turner movie and when I saw it I instantly thought it was one of the most powerful films I had seen in years but then I found out the director was charged with rape when he was a freshman in college so I instantly unliked it. I had to harness the social media app in my soul and take my heart emoji back! I am way too down for the cause to be caught in these traps. I made sure I never made that mistake again. For example; when the domestically violent homophobic young rapper XXXtentacion was put out of his misery I threw a release party with all of my fellow intersectionals. And I don’t mean a release party as in we played new music, but rather we opened all the windows of the house to symbolize the liberation of his victims from psychological bondage. Then each of us spoke about why his murder was empowering. It was a joyous occasion.

 

Wokeness is about being free of all blemishes created by oppressive patriarchy. It’s about unappreciating all the things that male dominated society brainwashed you into believing were amazing. It’s about taking the mighty Bell Hooks Bar of Soap and scrubbing your memories clean. It’s about deleting all of those dirty Chocolate Factory files and replacing them with Lemonade while the lemonade is still good. For it was recently revealed that the Queen Bey’s husband may have been involved with an underage rapper named Foxxy Brown in the 1990’s. I’m still waiting on the call from intersectional headquarters but if I have to erase more memories for the cause I am more than ready. For the child of destiny is now a full-grown adult and it was raised by two strong women without a man in sight.

 

Contaminated memories should be disposed of like contaminated meat. Well like all meat actually, and all nonorganic apples. We’re moving forward with this no matter what, and some thoughts will be sacrificed in the process. The point is I belong to a strong army of staunch nonconformists and we will win. This is just the beginning.

-Roger Porter