Friday, May 1, 2015

A Beating in Baltimore

You might not know his name, but you now know of his parent, who has been lauded as a hero and paraded around media and Washington DC as a model mother.  I acknowledge her impulses of deep love for her child, for his protection. I will not accept that without acknowledging that he was right to be motivated and then to act, even if we don't like his tactics. 

We melodramatically applaud women and men with guns pointed at "foreign brown people" daily, telling stories of patriotic fantasies of freedom and democracy in places that would rather not see our faces...or our bullets.  And along comes a young man, from a population of people of an age that most of the country stereotypes into apathy, indolence, ignorance and criminality. 

From an interview, he revealed being there because he saw his friends and loved ones around him being targeted, brutalized, harassed and killed.  That was his motivation.  THAT was his motivation.  So now he gets dragged along, showing great respect and deference to his loving mother, to be the mediated white-privilege-anti-cultural whipping boy for being some kind of unruly punk unthinking thug kid who clearly deserved to be popped upside his head by a mother who was understandably afraid for his life and safety. 

Stop for a moment in our revelry around the performance of corporal punishment on a "deserving" black body no matter who it came from...but from his mother?...even more colonially poetic. Shades of Willie Lynch and internalized racism have been called up by some observers.  But let's, just for a moment, act like we actually trust that within African youth here on Turtle Island lies the love and compassion and empathy and heart-driven political acuity to actually break through our limitations, our low expectations for them and that we actually believe the usual hype that we love everyone in this country (let alone on it's Bantustans/reservations or the rest of the world) equally.  Remember the ages of the young people who integrated lunch counters or boycotted buses, spent time in Birmingham jails, participated in freedom rides or got blown into the realm of the Ancestors by bombs set off in Birmingham churches.

Let's, for a moment, make believe we remember that youth have led (or followed in sharp principled
fashion) us through some of the most important socio-political moments in this settler-colony and around the world at least in the last 75 years. Let's take into consideration that in a few weeks we will smatter our graduating youth from crumbling Camden, NJ to desertifying California with smarmy platitudes about how they are the future, the leaders of tomorrow and that they must take responsibility for our world (that we adults have so royally jacked up for them).  And let's take into consideration that we sing songs and write books about genocidal Boston Tea Party Europeans in red-face, glorify the real and sin-ematic USAmerican cavalry that ran roughshod over indigenous people across a land "we" would later and currently nearly destroy because "G-O-D" blessed America just that much and that we believe so fully in the bogus oil and water wars in Iraq and in the corporate-bought con-gress that created them. 

Think, just for a moment, that this one young man's impulse was maybe about 75 feet (maybe the height of a slave ship mast) above that of those aforementioned others, that his impulse to take to the street was driven by love, by familial and communal protection and by the real understanding of the value of human life..and that for him, Black Lives actually opposed to the adherence to a genocidal imperative or complicity with colonial imperialism.  And armed with what? His heart, his body and maybe some rocks....knowing full well the weight of the commitment to facing down the militarized presence of the same authoritative political police/military apparatus that walks with impunity into cities and nations that will then resist often with the same weaponry he carried that day and with a much deeper ethical footing than their invading enemy.

 So, then, for a moment, just one moment, let's consider that what is happening to this young man is not the righteous spanking that our privileged and age-ist minds are assuming this 15 minutes of faux-maternal fame is.  Let us not in any way, though, besmirch the impulses of an African mother in a colonial nation built almost solely on chattel enslavement, indigenous holocaust and international plunder for the beloved life born of her sacred and Ancestrally-charged womb.  But let us not dare to sublimate the fact that, at least on that mediatedly fateful day, he had rallied for the rightest reasons we can remember, even though most of us still love his Goliath much more than the spirit of his Davidism.

His name is Michael Singleton.

(FYI, in about a day or so, a bunch of us will be training our attentions on the sanctioned battle between two men of color in a boxing ring...a sanctioned fight, a gladiatorial spectacle, because someone is due to make a...killing...(sorry)..from it.)

ABC's "The View" interview of Michael and his mother:

[The above link is no longer active, availablr. Please visit linked article below for commentary on Michael Singleton and the mediated beating that sparked this writing]

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