Recently I posted on Facebook (FB) a short rant about not reposting videos of black people being murdered by police and asking for honoring of the dead. My post was motivated by a desire to see the lives of black people honored in their death, to settle their bones, and to avoid perpetuating more violence against us. I received a great amount of support but at the same time some folks felt I was robbing them of a right, and some FB friends expressed a desire to continue showing the videos to wake up the consciousness of the world–as a form of protest.
I can admit that there was a censoring on my part when I asked for a moratorium on the videos. I could have just as well ended my FB experience. I did contemplate shutting down my account but I enjoy sharing and I do love seeing what my FB friends are up to.
Are the videos of black people being murdered an awakening experience, which is the aim of protest? Awakening is not with the eyes we see with but with the heart and mind that motivates our action. In other words, do such videos transform us as a society? While families of the slain may or may not be watching these videos I can imagine the horrendous pain if they are viewing them. I still cringe when photos of Emmett Till’s beaten face and dead body are shown. My face hurts, I die instantly because Emmett’s face is a black one, his body is a black one, his death is the end of a black life. We all know this way of seeing oneself as the other but what does that mean today? Are others who are not black see themselves as black people being gunned down and dying when they watch the video? Are we convincing haters to love at the expense of showing black murders? Why must videos of us dying be used to make others believe we are dying?! It reminds me of when I worked as a social science researcher and worked with gangs in Southern California, we had to gather data to prove that gang violence among black and brown youth did exist so that funding could be provided to create prevention programs. The government knew it existed but we needed number after number to prove it.
While well-meaning people see the videos as evidence of horrific times, the videos also can be seen as a display of victory for those hoping to foolishly annihilate a race of people, for those intent on continuing to terrorize the country while pointing their fingers at everyone but themselves.
It is easy to click “share” and move on feeling your part has been done. It’s too easy. We have much work to do beyond postings on FB. We have to go further, even on FB if that’s where we begin. Activism is creating the most profound way you can truly reach the hearts and minds of those whose eyes are closed. Post and write something in honor of that death–say something. Post and bring together a group of young people in your community, talk with them about what you have posted, and let them know you are there for them. It’s taking responsibility for what you put out in the world. How can you make the post be of benefit to us? Does shock work? I don’t know.
To honor our dead, to grieve, is to sustain their light inside us. They were as much awakened beings as any sage or prophet and this is evident in the powerful way their deaths have already changed the world with or without a video. If we don’t honor our dead, who will? #saytheirname