I lost sleep over Stephon Clark last night. I lost sleep over the fact that if he were white and stood accused of breaking windows in a white neighborhood then he would still be alive. As a matter of fact he would probably be out on bond. The chances of a 22-year-old white man actually going to jail for the crimes that Stephon Clark alleged to have committed seem very slim to me. In the middle of the night I thought about the criminalization of black bodies and how the practice lends itself to this case. It was reported that Oscar Grant was fighting on the BART train and was being belligerent, which was why he was murdered. Renisha Mcbride was drunk and that’s why she was killed. Sandra Bland wouldn’t put out her cigarette. Trayvon Martin and Alton Sterling were both high. Mike Brown stole a box of cigars. And somehow, in the consciousness of Americans, when these misdemeanors are committed by black people then they are punishable by death.
The campaign against the character of Stephon Clark is going really strong right now. Not only was he breaking windows but according to his tweets he doesn’t like black women claiming; “I don’t want nothing black but an X-box, dark bitches bring dark days.” Though this statement is not criminal, one cannot dismiss the fact that it is being brought to light in an effort to separate him from his core support group which is black women. The mother of his children—who is Asian—also tweeted something about not wanting to have dark children, which Stephon Clark cosigned. Now I don’t want to totally dismiss the problem with his tweets because self-hatred is real and it needs to be addressed in our community. A dark-skinned man who lives with his dark-skinned grandmother cannot hate dark skinned women without hating himself—period. In addition to his apparent disdain for women who look like him, if the man was out breaking into cars and breaking windows then he needed help. Whether robbery was the motive or he had a nervous breakdown I think we all can agree that vandalism is a terrible and inconsiderate act. But the problem isn’t that people are excusing the accusations brought against Mr. Clark in his wake but rather, the issue is these incidents are being brought forward in an attempt to justify his murder by the hands of the Sacramento Police Department. What the power structure wants us to do is to say because he destroyed property, and because he referred to black woman as bitches then I’m ok with him being shot 8 times (6 times in the back) while he was unarmed in his grandmother’s back yard. They want us to disregard his humanity and label him in our conscious minds as just another nigger.
But Stephon deserves to be alive. He deserves to be able to kiss his children and to hug is grandmother. If he is indeed guilty of vandalism then he deserves the right to be innocent until proven guilty. He deserves the right to feel the sun on his dark skin in the middle of a hot and dry Sacramento summer. He deserves to be able to take trips to Reno or the Bay Area with his brother. He deserves the right to grow into his best self and work, and play, and do too much, and fall down, and learn how to be a man. He doesn’t deserve to be killed in the process and we should not judge him because for him the process will forever be incomplete. We should love him no matter what his imperfections were and we should be disheartened that he was executed in such callous fashion.
Stephon Clark deserves to be alive and the officers who murdered him deserve to be prosecuted. We must never forget this truth.
If you are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area then you need to go to this event!
On Wednesday, October 18th at 6:30pm Mental Health in the Hood Presents “Keep Holding On: A Night of Suicide Awareness.” Please join us as we welcome internationally renowned keynote speaker Kevin “Grateful” Berthia. Grateful Berthia is a motivational speaker and mental health advocate.
On October 18th at 6:30pm in room D200 of Laney College he will tell the story of his darkest moment and what keeps him holding on. Laney College student Malaysi a Alcorn will also share her testimony.
This will be a powerful evening that you will not want to miss—trust me. Those who have been touched by suicide in any way are especially encouraged to attend. I hope to see you all there.
But what about the redwoods, and the black women, and the future? What about cool days when fog protects you from the sun and you know that god has your back. What about all of your trophies in the living room and the recognition plaques on the walls? What about all of the people that appreciate what you do? Some of them tell you and some of them don’t but they all need you to be here.
Sometimes I wish that I didn’t bruise so easily but I do. Sometimes I bruise when I’m touched and the pain lasts for years. Sometimes even words leave permanent marks on my flesh. Sometimes cruel text messages do as well. Sometimes when people act like they don’t need me, I believe them.
But what about views of the Pacific Ocean from the Berkeley Hills? What about Lake Merritt on Sunday afternoons? What about fresh doughnuts from King Pins? What about your purpose? What about the fight and he struggle? What about taking a nap in the parking lot when the day is hot and being woken up by the beads of sweat gathering on your cheek only to roll down your window at the exact time a breeze is passing through, and all at once you are revitalized.
You deserve awesome things. You were born deserving them and before you perish you will get them and so much more. Be patient and be persistent. I love you. I will continue to love you. I believe in you. I trust you. I got you. We will do this.
As I lay here between these sheets using these letters as a pianist uses the keys of a piano to express himself through sound, I write for clarity and not necessarily for the final product. I just want to make my ordeal visible. Whatever kind of joy or yearning that I am experiencing I don’t want it to fester inside of me. I need to be able to dissect it. And I need to know that I will not be judged for my humanity. That no one will talk wreckless to me for not healing fast enough or for being petty. I need a place where I can be in my feelings without someone telling me that I’m in my feelings. I need to be able to take that mask off that Dunbar was talking about and be me, while I still know who I am. I write in my bed before I brush my teeth or use the bathroom or return that phone call or put my Pop Tarts in the microwave so I can know what I’m up against internally. So that I can know how I feel and deal with it accordingly. I write to remind myself that I am a human-being.
As I navigate the world I feel the burdens of my darkness making every step nearly impossible. Eventually I become overwhelmed so I stop to sort things out. And then when I stop everything is gone. As soon as I stop moving, the puzzle pieces disintegrate then they disappear and I am left with an empty box and no chance at putting it all together. It is in this sense that rest becomes an oasis. For every time I go to sleep I wake up knowing that true rest doesn’t exist. How can a man wake up feeling tired yet he has nowhere to be?
The voices that speak to me are barely audible and when I try to listen to them they flee. I keep telling myself that I should be grateful but I am not because I know that I have lost something very essential to my being. And that is the ability to assemble love from blocks of depression. For so many years I have been able to duck right before capitalism beheaded me. I have been able to go deep inside of myself and mine for solace until I reached my quota. I have, in the past, been able to keep my muse from moving but now she runs. I am hideous. I am pathetic. I am lost.
You can’t pay me for my identity. I’m not going to sell my dreams for an office with my name on the door. My life is haunted by struggle. Whenever I get my hands on money, poverty beckons. The Trap tells me to come back home. Indeed I never left. Poverty is when you let an outside entity tell you who you are and even worse, what you should strive to become. I live my life the eternal outsider, never interested in opening the door, never in the middle of the dance floor, never a member of the rank and file.
Let them distance themselves from me and I will feed off of their repulsion. Let me be young and black, let me be the ghetto sun that provides the heat and the fire and always rises. Let me be misunderstood. Let me be crazy. I want the voices in my head to trust me again. Trust that I will never betray them, that I will depict them accurately. That I will never place any occupation before them ever again. That I will never pursuit ungodly things before I have first given you life. I will accept your anger, your screaming, and your rage if only you will speak to me. For without your presence in my soul I am an ordinary man. A worker. A follower. A completely disposable human being. A wasted dream. This time around you won’t have to chase me down after work. This time I will come to you.
If you are going to be anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area next Wednesday night then you have to come to this event. DON’T MISS IT!
If you will be anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area on 5/28 the you need to come to this event.
The Fire THIS Time” will be a night of SUPERDOPE poetry you won’t soon forget, with dynamic performances by:
Dom Jones & Donte Clark!
You will definitely want to be in the building as two of the illest poets in the state of California tell us what it means to be young, black, and aware in these tragic yet inspiring times.
There will also be an open mic session so don’t forget to bring your own poems with you. This musical, poetic and politically conscious event will be hosted by the lyrically gifted and all around righteous brotha Davin “Do Dat” Thompson. Not to mention sets buy the ultra smooth band WVG.
In addition to the excitement onstage,
The hottest young entrepreneurs in Oakland will be selling their products in the lobby. So please support:
“Oakland’s Own” – the freshest clothing company in town &
“The Cake & Sugar Company” – the best cupcakes you will EVER taste!
This event is guaranteed to be the realist thing to happen in Oakland since Festival at the Lake.
Only $10 at the door / you can purchase your tickets early, here!
See you all at The Fire THIS Time