“You can’t out do black people!”
A phrase that I say almost daily. When I speak those words, I mean it from my soul. Nothing gives me a greater sense of pride than to carry the blood of warriors, kings and queens through my veins. I’ve ALWAYS felt this way. When my daughter was born in 2001, I felt like Kunta Kinte in “Roots” when his father presented him to the moon and his ancestors. Raising him high above his head, he saluted, honored, and thanked his predecessors for helping bring his baby safely into the world. I felt like Simba at Pride Rock acquainting my enchanting princess to her loyal subjects. I remember that day well. Yes, I remember that day well…..I remember many things.
*sigh* I, sadly, recall my great-grandmother, Samiriyah Beyah (my father’s grandmother) born in 1897 telling my younger sister and I about different experiences from her life. I use the word “experience” loosely. She spoke of atrocities and tragedies including having to watch her 15-year-old brother be dragged away from her family’s home only to be lynched. I can’t imagine living through the feeling of having her soul being ripped from her flesh as they dragged her brother away to his death. James Yearby, my great, great grand-uncle, appears in the book “100 Years of Lynching” by Ralph Ginzburg. There was a time when I could give you the page number from the book but that time has now come and gone. I can, now only, recall my “Grizz’s” eyes still filling with tears some 6 decades later. I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of her pain. I thought time healed all wounds. Her blue-tinted white hair, time-worn face, and strong spirit had seen so much. My daddy, who is usually a very stoic man, solemnly placed his hand on her shoulders and whispered, “It’s ok, Ma”.
For my 7th birthday, I received a gift that would change my life. Not the pink Huffy two-wheeler with beautiful pink and silver streamers on the handlebars but a copy of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley given to me by my father. I finished it within 2 days. I understood EVERY aspect of what I read. My heart sank and I wept openly and loudly. I pictured a young Malcolm watching helplessly as his father was tied down to railroad tracks by the Klan. I envisioned the nightmares that he must have endured seeing his father ran over by a train AND not dying immediately. His skull was outside of his head in a Lansing, Michigan hospital room. Yet, he remained strong until he drew his last breath. He died a MAN and no number of “boys” he was called could change that. A man whose heart and soul could not be moved to believe that he was not worthy of being here even when those beliefs cost him his life.
I was very much aware of the value that wasn’t given to black lives- especially black men. Young or old was of no importance. I wept for them all. Emmett Till, Malice Green, Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Yusef Hawkins, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Mike Brown… the list is endless. I weep and then the sadness turns to anger as nooses are still being tied around the necks of young black men in Mississippi, Texas, and Delaware. Yes, brothers have never stopped being lynched. The last “reported” lynching happened in 1981 in Georgia and it was the same year my eyes revealed a new truth to my young, impressionable mind.
These are hard and ugly truths. Blacks are being erased from this planet like incorrect answers on an exam. The paradigm shift is simple. There are more black people in this world (outside of Asians) and the goal is to eradicate as many of us as possible. This couldn’t be a more formidable plan. Simply reference the various places in the world where blacks are assassinated on a daily basis. Places like Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Australia, Mauritania, South Africa, Namibia, Spain, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, France, and Italy to name a few give ZERO DAMNS about their respective Black or African populations. “Oh, it makes me wanna holla”…as Afro- Dominican rapper, Monkey Black, was stabbed to death in Barcelona by 2 assailants. They left identifying items at the bar and they’ve not been brought to justice. Coincidentally, they were Spanish nationalists *insert side eye*.
My belly aches for each black life that was hatefully taken away with no regard or reverence. For each piece of yellow police tape, blood and shoes left on the sidewalk, videos that are shared, every shot fired, baton swung, taser going off or report that is filed yet goes unanswered- I cry. My soul screams with the voice of Oya in the hopes that gale force winds will carry our transgressors far, far away. I summon the hurricanes and typhoons of my mother, Yemaya, as the souls of our elders rise from the abyss to ride the crests of her waves in order to wash away those who wish to bring us harm. I hear 3 words.
LET THEM LIVE!
I sit here pondering the pain that I’ve felt for quite some time now. I close my eyes and I go back to that day on Cortland where Samiriyah Beyah aka “Grizz” spoke of atrocities and tragedies including having to watch her 15 year old brother be dragged away from her family’s home only to be lynched. James Yearby, my great, great grand-uncle, appears in the book “100 Years of Lynching” by Ralph Ginzburg. There was a time when I could give you the page number from the book. NOW, so many countless other pages have been filled in by various black men, boys, women and girls from around the globe that names, countries, ages and faces have just become blurred lines. My eyes are filling with tears almost 4 decades after her death. I take a deep breath and exhale and I hear her whisper softly, “It’s ok, baby girl.”