Tag Archives: black lives matter

Remembering Jose

On this day one year ago Jose Hernandez-Rossy was murdered by police officer Tedesco. Jose in death was crucified by media outlets whose platform feed the city lies about who he was and the actions leading to his untimely death. Jose was driving home enjoying the final break in our temper mental Buffalo seasons when he was stopped by the police. The traffic stopped turned violent when one officer reached into Jose’s car causing him to hit a street pole. Jose attempted to leave the scene by getting out of his car to run when he was shot and killed by officer Tedesco. That day and the ones that followed the media reported that he shot a police officer (which was false), that he had a criminal record, that he was smoking weed. The local media’s stance to discredit Jose, the victim of a heinous crime, that by 2017 had played out once in this city before in the case of Meech and dozens of time across this country was an eerie reminder of how American society treats the death of men of color as criminals first before human.

I saw him as human. I saw him in the face of his daughter who still didn’t understand why her father was not returning home as he always did. I saw him as a family man in videos that his cousins’ shared on their social media as they mourned their loss of him. I hear his humanity and his loving kindness in the stories from his brother- in- law of how he helped support him and his sister’s family. I see the strength of him live on in his sister and mother as they fight through a crooked judicial system with lawyers that have other agendas yet they still hold true to their convictions for justice. I have had my heart and soul break open with his family at the place of his death, as we held direct actions and in frustrating meetings.

One particular moment that stays burned in my mind and body’s memory was the day of his memorial at the site of where he was killed. I felt my body shake with sadness, anger, and grief and overwhelmed with hurt when I looked down to see my son crying beside me. Zaire cried because he too felt the overwhelming emotion of when the immediate family came to the pole on the corner of the street where Jose’s car initially crashed and the ground felt radiant of Jose’ blood that was still visible on parts of the street. There was a sad chaos in the street when his mother cried terribly before her body gave way and the male family members had to hold on to her. When the fire department and ambulance pulled up and Zaire began to cry more I decided that it was time for us to go. He asked me why he died and who killed him in the car ride home, I told him because of the color of his skin and by officers that said they were scared of him. My voice trembled as I said this as I felt guilt for exposing this harsh reality to my children. I let it hurt just enough before remembering that taking him and Kelila to Jose’s memorial did not make me a bad parent opening my children up to trauma. I am a parent that is exposing my children to what is happening in our community so that we may heal together and build better sustainable communities for our future.

Now today a year later we will come together once again to remember the life of Jose. We still hold the rage from the not guilty verdict from the Attorney General case in our bones as we reclaim this memorial site. Our emotions are raw on this day and we honor the unspoken power of them that has fueled us this far in our collective journey. My heart is still full despite the pain and I am sending out love in these words, in prayer, and in healing vibes to the survivors of state sanctioned violence.

Remembering Jose

On this day one year ago Jose Hernandez-Rossy was murdered by police officer Tedesco. Jose in death was crucified by media outlets whose platform feed the city lies about who he was and the actions leading to his untimely death. Jose was driving home enjoying the final break in our temper mental Buffalo seasons when he was stopped by the police. The traffic stopped turned violent when one officer reached into Jose’s car causing him to hit a street pole. Jose attempted to leave the scene by getting out of his car to run when he was shot and killed by officer Tedesco. That day and the ones that followed the media reported that he shot a police officer (which was false), that he had a criminal record, that he was smoking weed. The local media’s stance to discredit Jose, the victim of a heinous crime, that by 2017 had played out once in this city before in the case of Meech and dozens of time across this country was an eerie reminder of how American society treats the death of men of color as criminals first before human.

I saw him as human. I saw him in the face of his daughter who still didn’t understand why her father was not returning home as he always did. I saw him as a family man in videos that his cousins’ shared on their social media as they mourned their loss of him. I hear his humanity and his loving kindness in the stories from his brother- in- law of how he helped support him and his sister’s family. I see the strength of him live on in his sister and mother as they fight through a crooked judicial system with lawyers that have other agendas yet they still hold true to their convictions for justice. I have had my heart and soul break open with his family at the place of his death, as we held direct actions and in frustrating meetings.

One particular moment that stays burned in my mind and body’s memory was the day of his memorial at the site of where he was killed. I felt my body shake with sadness, anger, and grief and overwhelmed with hurt when I looked down to see my son crying beside me. Zaire cried because he too felt the overwhelming emotion of when the immediate family came to the pole on the corner of the street where Jose’s car initially crashed and the ground felt radiant of Jose’ blood that was still visible on parts of the street. There was a sad chaos in the street when his mother cried terribly before her body gave way and the male family members had to hold on to her. When the fire department and ambulance pulled up and Zaire began to cry more I decided that it was time for us to go. He asked me why he died and who killed him in the car ride home, I told him because of the color of his skin and by officers that said they were scared of him. My voice trembled as I said this as I felt guilt for exposing this harsh reality to my children. I let it hurt just enough before remembering that taking him and Kelila to Jose’s memorial did not make me a bad parent opening my children up to trauma. I am a parent that is exposing my children to what is happening in our community so that we may heal together and build better sustainable communities for our future.

Now today a year later we will come together once again to remember the life of Jose. We still hold the rage from the not guilty verdict from the Attorney General case in our bones as we reclaim this memorial site. Our emotions are raw on this day and we honor the unspoken power of them that has fueled us this far in our collective journey. My heart is still full despite the pain and I am sending out love in these words, in prayer, and in healing vibes to the survivors of state sanctioned violence.

I Felt That Shit: The Power of Art & Uses in the Movement

In a dimmed room Eve rose from the front row with her poems in hand then began speaking. Her words bore life to worlds I never seen but through her knew, she shared who she was that was hidden beyond view of who stood before us of her childhood scars to her travels; then she read I don’t want my baby to be a hashtag. Her voice spoke the fear that I had never said aloud, the  joy and pain I have as I watch my son grow was hers too and the sobering knowledge of what this country can do. As her pace speed up saying what I had known to be true, tears swelled and wetted my cheeks by the way she had captured a black mother’s pain so beautifully. That was the first time I watched her perform a set, and the first set that I had seen in my adult life that had hit me so hard to inspire me to action. At nine months pregnant with a four year old and trump presidency on the horizon, I hungered even more to be the change I wanted to see, if not for myself for my family. Now as I reflect back on my origins to organizing I realize how important radical art was to becoming a part of this movement.

Art is one of the main uses of propaganda- in film, television, visual arts, music, theater and literature because of its undeniable power. When we interact with it, listen to, see it, we resonate with art on a level of shared experiences within the audience and artists.  Which is The purpose of art: to incite emotions- whether they are true or not doesn’t matter as long as the intended audience got the message and felt that shit.

Back when black folks first were “freed” from slavery, films like ‘Birth of a Nation’ were created to affirm the fear white Americans had towards black Americans and that in order to preserve the sanctity of white people that there was a need for the KKK. Moving forward Jim Crow the popular character of a minstrel show, a musical show of the 1830’s that featured white entertainers in blackface, became the slang term for the racist laws that kept the caste system functioning despite the end of slavery.

In the midst of this prominent misuse of art was the rise of black entertainers that portrayed their truth and reality in this country in what is now known as The Harlem Renaissance. Artists like Zora Neele Hurston reclaimed African American Language in their literature as a radical act of personifying black folks for generations to follow. Fast forward to the civil rights era Nina Simone, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou were popular artists that stand out for being vocal about their distrust of this country as black folks and their desire to be free through their art.

To now- Beyoncé shutting down the 2016 Super Bowl performance of Formation in Black Panther inspired regalia then later released visual album that incorporated the work of past and current black artists. Kendrick Lamar that same year used his Grammy performance to showcase that slavery never ended, but shape-shifted into the current prison system.

Their big names drew more attention to the calls of action of Black Live Matter/ Movement for Black Lives than the media had intended to cover. Black artists of the past and currently living understand the responsibility that their talent provides relief to their audience and is a preservation of their time period- the beliefs of that era, the shared feels and experiences with it.

To all my artists’ friends You Matter. Your work Matters. History will thank you for your contributions.

To honor y’all I will be starting an appreciation series dedicated to the talented black and brown artists that are killing shit and those who are working in the movement!

Dedicated to the Life of Our Freedom Fighter : Erica Garner

This morning as I washed the tub to bath my son, Zaire sat on the toilet rambling his usual morning rants. He paused and said ‘Mom, we must listen to each other and support each other’

I stopped for a moment, and looked at him ‘ yes, that’s right.’

‘That’s what Papa says and that’s what you say about freedom..? ‘we have to lose our chains’

I remember now, I know what he’s saying to me ‘Oh! The Assta chant: it is our duty to fight for our freedom.’

‘Yes! That’s is – It’s is our duty to fight for our freedom! ‘

I nod, smiling now ‘it is our duty to win ..’

He repeats after me loudly

‘We must love each other and support each other ‘

He repeats bobbing up and down with each word

‘We have nothing to lose but our chains.’

‘You always say that Mom, I knew it was you when I hear that and Always holding signs.. ‘

I had intended this morning to write about the pride and discord I felt in that moment. How my heart both swelled up in his acknowledgment of the Work and broke in two because how far we have yet to go to achieve our freedoms, until I saw the news about Erica Garner . She passed this morning, after suffering from a heart attack a week ago and had been in a coma since.

Her father, Eric Garner was killed by the police in 2014, in a case that would be one of the most publicly know and associated with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Erica was 24 years old when she began organizing and advocating vehemently on her father’s behalf. She staged die ins where her father was killed, held political figures and politicians accountable, and never gave up on her fight for justice.

I’ve looked to her many times over this past year and now especially reflecting on being in this work at the same age as her when she lost her father in such a violent way. I’ve looked at her in admiration that despite being in the most pain this country can put on us she never gave in to it’s insidious attacks against her – until her body could simply not take anymore.

I know the stress this work can wear on the body. The pain can manifest physically beyond the mental and emotional point of enduring. I felt it recently when the Attorney General visited Buffalo to announce that there was no way No criminal charges found in the case of Wardel ‘Meech’ Davis, the 20 year old black man killed by the BPD in February of this year. The day of the news broke I joined in on the protests with Zaire by my side . I closed the protest with the above Chant with tears streaming from my eyes both from the cold of the cruel wind whipping against my face and the pure emotion of knowing how little black lives amount to in this country. Angered that we still fight for its sacredness that our lives are constantly denied.

My imagination can only go so far as too empathize with what Erica internalized in her three years of this fight for the man that loved her first in her life.

Erica carried that pain every day of being erased, of her father’s life never receiving any justice but instead slander by media outlets-yet she carried on. She was still a person beyond this Work, she brought life into this world and the pain of her father not being able to witness it is what I can imagine was a contributing factor to her first heart attack.

Erica’s heart was broken the day life departed from her father and broke a little more each time he was disrespected, repressed and denied justice after death. It broke a little more with each reported police killing of unarmed black men and women. It broke a little more each time joy crept into her life with the knowing she did not have her father to share it with until her untimely death at the age of 27.

We highlight too often the strength of freedom fighters and not their humanity- their need to be cared for and loved properly. Today her family, loved ones, and folks that been apart of this movement that recognize her contributions mourn Erica Garner. I hope her soul has finally found solace as she joins her father in rest.

I also hope this will help bring awareness of our needs of healing and love within the fight for justice, within the generations of suffering pain that is denied reconciliation.

It Is our duty to love each other and support each, to listen and care gently when there is a pause in all our fighting. It is our duty to find resilience in this from the peace we still have within us.

Sending prayers and healing vibes on this day.

cover photo:Erica Garner has turned personal tragedy into a platform for activism (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)