WWA-Writer With Attitude
I remember the first time I put on the Boyz in the Hood album on my record player. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this new sound! It played so loudly from my room that my dad walked down the hallway to turn me to "turn that mess down or off!" Since my parents didn't like it, I think I played it more. Hey, I was a rebellious teen who thought she was a bad ass.
Rap music has always resonated with me. From my wayward teens through my turbulent twenties and now in my fabulous forties, the lyrics were and still are a reflection of what I see and what those around me may be going through. I loved the genre so much that I completed a senior honors thesis at The University of Houston on gangsta rap and the feminist movement. The Dean of the program tried to talk me out of researching this topic citing it "lacked academic merit" but I "stood my ground" and got it approved.
My husband and I were so excited to finally see the biopic "Straight Outta Compton over the weekend and it didn't disappoint. Each police brutality scene resonated with me based on current events and it reminded me that there are still those who want to silence our voice, minimize our pain and make light of the systematic ills that plague our segmented communities.
I don't think any rational person would disagree that Rodney King took an unjust beating. I recall being shocked and outraged at the beating video. When the verdict came out, I was angry and appalled but it didn't have an emotional impact on my life like recent jury verdicts. Perhaps it is because I am a parent now or because I am older and wiser and can truly identify injustice and oppression patterns.
What concerns me most is the insensitivity displayed by people I thought held compassion and good moral standards close at hand and their social media backlash at recent similar events. When Blacks decide to stand up and raise awareness, they are countered with inclusiveness rhetoric like "all lives matter". Victims have been mocked in memes and comments have followed posts basically stating that these people lives didn't matter because they were criminals. Why do we even have a judicial system in place if the approach is shoot to kill? Why are there law schools and jails?
What makes a criminal? Is it one bad decision, an act of desperation, a response to an emotional trigger, mental illness or are these people just evil? No one takes the time to examine the person behind the criminal act anymore. They are just walking targets for police brutality. They don't matter. They should have "shut up." They should have "not run away." They "shouldn't have been there in the first place." "They had a smart mouth."
Choosing to remain silent about racism, injustice, discrimination and other unlawful behaviors puts you in bed with the aggressor. Silencing your own voice is a huge disservice to yourself. Those who can respect your plight, your life journey and your advocacy for change are the people you need to have in your circle. Everyone else needs to be pushed into the corner. Seems to be the best place for a spectator anyway.