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SHAIVAUGHN CRAWLEY

The Departure

November 20, 2014. Charleston, South Carolina.  I was in the living room with all of my bags packed. Suitcase, backpack, laundry basket and another basket with just books in it. I was ready to go. At this point, we wait. We were waiting on my new boss to arrive to come and pick me up. I was getting ready to move to Baltimore. I alternated between looking out of the window to see when he would be pulling up in the driveway and looking at my mother and my grandmother who waited alongside me to attempt to read their body language. I had told them just last month of my decision to move away, but in my mind  I don’t feel that it went well. Truth be told, they weren’t content with the fact that I was leaving, and never would be content until they came up to visit and see for themselves that I was alright.

I was doing all of this at 19. I had done one year of college, and had decided not to register for classes for my second year, because I knew that I would be moving. I was working at Chick Fil A, and had about $350 to my name. That’s it. 19 years old, $350 to my name and a bunch of books. No car, no real house [I would stay in a little room in the back of a church for a year], and a load of uncertainties. But I was ready. They [my mother and my grandmother] knew that I was ready. I had visited just last month for a weekend, and I knew that it was time. I didn’t know that the big move would happen the very next month, and I certainly didn’t think that the big move would happen just before Thanksgiving. My new boss finally showed up. He exchanged words with my grandmother and my mother, they laughed a little, said some reassuring words to each other, helped me load up the car, hugged, hugged and hugged, [they] shed a few tears, and I hopped in the car and I left.

Today, August 5, 2017. Baltimore, Maryland. Bun Shop. Here I am, sitting on a brand new couch in a coffeehouse, beside a cup of water and a Vietnamese iced coffee. In my lap is a laptop masked with a bunch of political stickers. Life is grand. When I initially got here, I didn’t think that I would last this long, because I was low in cash and I had frequent regrets about the whole thing. “Did I make the right decision? Why did I do this again? Why didn’t anyone talk me out of this? I probably should stayed in South Carolina.” But, after a few months of struggling, things started to work. I landed a job, I learned how to get around the city and I made bonds and connections. I made mistakes, I stumbled and even fell. But things just kept on working out for me. I credit the most high, honestly. I’m still here, 3 years later.

5 years ago, I would’ve thought that you were insane if you told me that I would be where I am today.

I miss Charleston, much more than I thought. I miss my little sister Ty’nasia. I miss my little brother, Diante’. I miss my mother and my grandmother, my aunts and my uncles and my cousins. I miss those whom I have spent some very, very fun and exciting times with at Chick Fil A. Shoutout to the hard workers at Chick Fil A, Dee, Libby and Ms. Patty, who I knew I could always count on, to talk God with me and to play gospel music on her radio while we worked. I miss y’all like hell. I miss Ms. Lisa and “Good ole Mr. Don”, who would hook me up with a hot cup of coffee and some good food after church on Sundays. I miss Bandit [one of their many dogs] and even Ashley [one of their dogs who is both blind and deaf] too.

See y’all soon.

I don’t even know why I’m typing this. Maybe it’s because somebody needs to read this. Maybe somebody needs to be inspired. Maybe someone needs to make a big jump, a big leap and they need the encouragement to do so. Maybe someone is hell bent on quitting their job, but they don’t know what the future will hold for them once they do it. Maybe someone out there is about to start school, and they fear that their major, although it’s what they love and it’s what they’re passionate about, won’t make them any money. Maybe somebody has been dying to make that big move, and whether it be from one city to another or from one state to another, they need to overcome some of that fear or anxiety. This is for you.

Do it. Go for it. Take that leap of faith. And if it works out, then great. If it doesn’t, there’s always redemption and second chances. Passion is like a bird leaving it’s nest for the very first time. Either you’re gonna fly, or you’re gonna fall. But you won’t ever know until you test your wing’s durability.

For the sake of struggle, for the sake of perseverance, for the sake of love and for passion, for the sake of dreaming, for the sake of walking boldly in seemingly absurd decisions, for the sake of uniqueness, for the sake of individuality, for the sake of life—only one of it, I say….

GO.

 

 

In the words of John Edgar Wideman…

“Perhaps one measure of humanity is our persistence in the business of attempting to construct a meaningful life in spite of the sentence of death hanging over our heads every instant of our time on earth. Although we can’t avoid our inevitable mortality, we don’t need to cower in a corner, waiting for annihilation. Neither should we allow the seemingly overwhelming evil news of the day to freeze us in our tracks, nor let it become an excuse for doing nothing, for denial and avoidance, for hiding behind imaginary walls and pretending nothing can harm us. Alternatives exist. Struggle exists. Struggle to connect, to imagine ourselves better. To imagine a better world. To take responsibility step by step, day by day, for changing the little things we can control, refusing to accept the large things that appear out of our control.”

-John Edgar Wideman, Live From Death Row, pg. xxv

Linda Morse, on a witness stand during a trial on December 16, 1969 said: 

“The more that I see the horrors that are perpetrated by this government, the more that I read about things like troop trains full of nerve gas traveling across the country where one accident could wipe out thousands and thousands of people, the more that I see things like companies just pouring waste into lakes and into rivers and just destroying them, the more I see things like the oil fields in the ocean off Santa Barbara coast where the Secretary of the Inferior and the oil companies got together and agreed to continue producing oil from the offshore oil fields and ruined a whole section of the coast, the more that I see things like an educational system which teaches black people and Puerto Rican people and Mexican-Americans that they’re only fit to be domestics and dishwashers, if that, the more that I see a system that teaches middle-class whites like me that we are supposed to be technological brains to continue producing CBW [chemical and biological] warfare, to continue working on computers and things like that to learn how to kill people better, to learn how to control people better, yes, the more I want to see that system torn down and replaced by a totally different one—-one that cares about people learning; that cares about children being fed breakfast before going to school; one that cares about people learning real things in school; one that cares about people going to college for free; one that cares about people living adult lives that are responsible, fulfilled adult lives, not just drudgery, day after day going to a job; one that gives people a chance to express themselves artistically and politically and religiously and philosophically. That is the kind of system I want to see in its stead.” 

-Linda Morse, Conspiracy in the Streets: The Extraordinary Trial of the Chicago Eight, p. 152 

Her Spirit Lives On

korryn gaines

I was sitting in the living room watching the news when I heard about what had happened to Korryn Gaines. At the time, I didn’t know all of the details, [much like everyone else], and made quick assumptions. I assumed that the individual having the standoff with police was a white man who they would describe as “mentally disturbed”, “unhinged” or “suicidal”. I assumed this “white man” was a college student or something. I assumed that maybe the “white man” had just been divorced or broken up with or something. I thought that this “white man” was maybe even in severe debt, and knew no other way out. But then, I learned more.

This WASN’T a suicidal, mentally disturbed white man. This was a Black woman, a 23-year-old Black woman at that. And the police WASN’T there to stop her from killing herself, but was there TO kill her. I had learned that she was harassed constantly by Baltimore County Police officers in Randallstown, Maryland. I had learned that she had a pending case with the Baltimore County Police Department, and that she was suing them for an altercation pertaining to the rights and ownership of her vehicle. I had learned that there was already some “sabotage” and “fabricating” of evidence happening with some paperwork that she needed to have in order to defend herself in court. I also learned that she had a history with these same officers who harassed her non-stop.

I had learned that they had come to “issue a warrant for a court date that she had failed to appear to” [yea, okay], and Korryn Gaines felt that she had an obligation to protect her then 5-year-old son.

But, what I remember the MOST about hearing about Korryn Gaines’s death, was all of the Black men and women on my timeline who didn’t even stand up for her. I remember reading things like, “she deserved to die”.

“She just wanted to be a martyr for a movement.”

“She dragged her innocent 5-year-old son into something that had nothing to do with him.”

“She traumatized that boy.”

“If the officer says to do something, you do it.”

“She had a gun.”

“She was crazy.”

Which tells me that the theory of armed resistance and the actual practice of armed resistance are two different things in the eyes of SOME people. Armed resistance in pictures— pictures like the one with Malcolm X peeping out of his window sill with a rifle in his hand, or pictures like the ones with 30 members of the Black Panther Party who walked into the California State Capitol building in May of 1967 toting guns and rifles— come off as more “badass”, “Black Powerish” and “radical”, than that of a young Black woman who actually PRACTICED the theory of armed resistance and furthermore felt the need to defend herself from terrorists in badges who came to invade her home.

Regardless if you believe that armed resistance is the way to go or not, the fact remains that A LOT of the leaders that we idolize and look up to, partook in armed resistance in some form or fashion.

FACTS. NOT EVEN DEBATABLE.

But, that’s another post for another time. In this post, I would rather just remember Korryn Gaines, and to wish her family well in all of their pursuits. Korryn Gaines was a freedom fighter, a warrior, and a fearless Black mother. Let’s not forget this. Yes, she was a revolutionary. But, she was a mother FIRST. And with the huge task of being a mother or for shepherding a child, I can only imagine the great lengths that one can/will go in order to defend her flock. Korryn Gaines was willing to go to the very ends of the Earth to make sure that her child was safe.

I wonder how many mothers would go as far as to arm themselves, if it meant that they and their children would be safe from all forms of terror, even if it meant “law enforcement?”

Mumia Abu-Jamal said in his book, All Things Censored, “For the spirit of resistance, is in essence, the spirit of love.” I firmly believe that Korryn Gaines resisted and petitioned the state at every turn each and everyday, because of the love that she had for her family.

Mumia Abu-Jamal also said in an interview back in March 1996, “Don’t cry for me, don’t mourn for me. Organize.” I feel that Korryn’s spirit is urging us to organize, organize, organize. That is what she would be doing had she not been murdered by the state. Let’s keep the spirit strong!

“I’ll live on forever, my nigga. Forever.” -Korryn Gaines

Her spirit lives on.

We Speak Louder

 

city hall baltimore.jpg

Photo cred: The International Business times

This past Tuesday was a day to remember for the people of Baltimore City. A city council meeting [that was set up for the purpose of discussing a one year mandatory minimum sentencing for those who carry a gun in a public space], was interrupted, shut down and demolished. Why was it interrupted? Why did the people become so upset during the “hearing”? It was because our voices were muted, and we couldn’t take any more of the lies, deceit and confusion. Our voices were suppressed for two and a half hours, as we waited patiently to be heard. We had heard from senators and delegates, chairs of this committee, and chairs of that committee. We had to listen to every single member of the judiciary and legislative investigations committee and then some. Eventually, we became frustrated and we let them know what people power looks like. The judiciary and legislative investigations committee at City Hall was put on notice, and this isn’t the beginning…. but it is also nowhere near the end.

Baltimore, we have a problem. This problem goes beyond the bill that was written. This problem goes beyond the city council members. This problem goes beyond City Hall in general. This problem even goes beyond the Baltimore City Police Department. This problem is a national problem, and it is that Black people are not supposed to scream when they are in pain. It is that Black people are not supposed to show some sort of emotion when legislation is passed [or even thought about], that we know for certain hurt our communities. It is that Black people are supposed to “just bend over and take it.”

Writer, journalist and radio broadcaster Mumia Abu-Jamal says so eloquently, “Do you see law and order? There is nothing but disorder, and instead of law there is the illusion of security. It is an illusion because it is built on a long history of injustices: racism, criminality, and the genocide of millions. Many people say it is insane to resist the system, but actually, it is insane not to.” He also said, “Politics is the art of making the people believe that they are in power, when in fact, they have none.” Taking these two quotes into account, one should feel empowered, to stand up, petition our government and have our voices heard.

City Hall puts up a good front when people who have the power, don’t exercise their power. If nobody with the REAL power speaks out and puts them in check, OF COURSE they are going to exercise their fake power. And they’ll do so with no intention of stopping.

No more attending City Council “hearings” where the people [many of which took off of work, school, etc. just to attend the meeting] are forced to wait hours on hours before we can be heard. No more having to “wait our turn”, when in reality if we don’t speak up, we won’t have a turn. No more political correctness. No more respectability politics. No more no more no more!

When we are silenced, we speak louder. When we are ignored, we speak louder. We speak louder.

There was a few arrests in response to the way that we [finally] decided to take charge, and they are all faced with various charges, so I will not go into detail about the specific happenings. But I WILL say that I commend them for standing up, showing up and showing out for those who couldn’t be physically be there. At times, it can feel discouraging. It can feel like nothing is working, and that we’re just running in circles. But we need to remember that our shouts echo, our stomping carries weight, and our resistance bears value. We may not see it NOW, but if we continue and if we persist, I believe that demons will tremble and strongholds will be released.

Now, regardless if the results of the hearing were predetermined before we arrived, [which I firmly believe], we STILL made it known that we were not playing with them. There is ALWAYS something to say, there is ALWAYS a point that needs to be made. Some people who attended the meeting weren’t even there for the bill per say, but were there to let their councilmembers know that if they keep up, they’ll be removed. To me, it’s not even about WHY you are there, or how on topic you are. If it is indeed the people’s building that we have paid for with our tax dollars, then we need to start controlling the pace and direction of these meetings!

The bill has been altered so much since we first heard about it, that I am convinced that they are all at the drawing board now trying to figure out what to do next. Or maybe not. But regardless, we will be right there waiting and watching, as I know [and I’m sure you do too] that this thing is far from over.

Forward together, not one step back! In solidarity.

@ShaiVaughnC

WBAL Journalist Jayne Miller’s video of the initial incident provoked by Baltimore Police.

 

A Twitter thread from Baltimore Bloc Member discussing the actions of the chair of the Judiciary and Legistlative Investigations committee, Eric Costello.

A video via Twitter of Baltimore Police Sgt. Thompson who is responsible for wrongfully arresting protestors well within their first amendment rights. He is also being sued for illegally arresting 65 people [at one time] last July.

The State of Black Baltimore

black baltimore

[Photo cred: sorry4theblog.com]

The state of Black Baltimore cannot be placed in one category, as Black Baltimore can be described as a number of things. When talking about the state of Black Baltimore, we must be very careful not to over-generalize, because the over-generalization of our people has lead to slander, pathetic stereotypes, and unreasonable expectations. In this post, I will try my best to elucidate the hardships that Black Baltimore face on a daily basis, while also highlighting the POSITIVE state of Black Baltimore. I am no doctor or professor, nor am I anyone with a degree worthy of being deemed such. I am merely a college student living in East Baltimore, with an interest in sharing what I see walking the streets of my city. Black Baltimore is unorthodox, carefree and persistent. The following MY take on the state of Black Baltimore, and may not reflect the views or opinions of other residents of Black Baltimore.

Black Baltimore and persistence are synonymous. Black Baltimore is synonymous with persistence, because of our ability to “continue” and to “press on” in the midst of sabotage and deprivation. Say what you want about Black Baltimore, but one thing that you CANNOT say about us is that we have no drive. Black Baltimore can be described as a train on railroad tracks, just riding along. Suddenly, it starts raining. The train is just riding along still. Suddenly, a wheel falls off of the train. The train is now leaning and shaking, and it may have even lost some momentum, but the train is just riding along still. Soon thereafter, the railroad track malfunctions and breaks apart. the train rides off of the railroad tracks and it looks like it’s doomed for failure. But it finds it’s way back on the tracks and the train is just riding along still. No matter what is thrown at that train, no matter the obstacles, no matter the hardship, that train just keeps on rollin’. This is Black Baltimore. Black Baltimore is that train that just keeps on rollin’. And we don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.

But to say these things and not examine the various kinds of hardships would be to not fully value the determination of the train. How much more would you praise the train conductor if you knew the extent of the sabotages that was overcome? Theologian and Black Scholar Reverend Osagyefo Sekou once stated, “Jesus is a nigga, because niggas never die.” Here, we see the connection that Reverend Sekou is making between “niggas” and “persistence”. But what is so desperately out to kill “niggas”? Let’s examine some of those…

Lead poisoning in Baltimore still negatively impact Black families in Baltimore. Thousands of Black children suffer from this poisoning, which can have physical, emotional and mental effects on children. Lead poisoning is something that can be eradicated once and for all, but the city has yet to do so. Thousands of Black Baltimoreans suffer from this severely dismissed epidemic. In a map on Housing Policy Watch’s website [link below], you can see Baltimore City Lead Paint Violation Notices from 2006 to 2016. The red dots [each depicting a lead poisoning infested house], only take up the east and left side of the map of Baltimore City. The center of the map, you ask? Not a single dot. The center of the map is where the most development, re-structuring, tourist sight-seeing takes place. We call this the “white L”, as you will see very minimal Black residency in this area. This is a clear indication the lead poisoning infestation is a blatant, non-discrete war on Black Baltimore. There was a meeting on Lead paint eradication held at City Hall last year [led by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke on February 4, 2016], in which I attended. There were lead paint “advocates” who talked very loosely about the issue, carried a somewhat carefree attitude, and at one point even blamed the RESIDENTS for the reasons that they were being poisoned. They talked a lot about WHY the children are being poisoned, but talked little about WHAT would be done about it. One reason that they gave for the lead, was raising up the windows. Apparently, when they lift the windows, it chips the paint and exposes the lead. Shouldn’t everyone have a right to lift up the windows in their homes without getting sick? One man, Horacio A. Tablada, a deputy state environment secretary, stated in front of the entire room, “We just don’t have the full resources.” This is unacceptable! At what point will they stop making excuses and just get the job done? They are allowing this to take place, while criminalizing and demonizing violent activity in our communities, that often STEM from lead poisoning and the effects that it has on the mind! There should be hundreds of people flooding the entrance of city hall, DEMANDING that lead poisoning be eradicated, or else there will be some form of resistance for every day that they sit idly by. They would much rather give out lead checks, than to just eradicate these homes for good. And the sad reality is, some people don’t even live long enough to receive the checks.

Public transit is in disarray. Black Baltimore wanted a reliable system, a system that they could depend on. They wanted the Red Line. Governor Larry Hogan essentially said, “no”, and instead gave us Baltimore Link. Baltimore Link is basically the same exact system that we had once before, they just merely changed up a few roads, changed the design of the busses and changed the numbers to colors. That’s it. Busses are still late, busses are still breaking down, bus drivers are still rude and irate at times, and the worst part of it all is that hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent on a system that no one can even tell the difference. This was a big “F U” to the citizens of Black Baltimore, who rely on public transit to get to and from work, to drop their children off at day care, to make their doctor appointments, and to make their job interviews. The White L, however, has the Charm City Circulator, that runs for FREE up and down Charles and St. Paul streets, and some streets along the inner harbor. This is frustrating as Hell! The people who have the money to pay for transit ride free, and the people who need free transit are the ones who must pay. We need a public transit protest that is strong enough to rock Annapolis, because our jobs and our lives can be changed indefinitely should we miss work because of bus that is consistently running late or not even showing up at all.

For many “outsiders”, the first thing that they think of when they hear “Baltimore” is crime. Guns. Murder. Death. Blood. Police. Chaos. But, when I hear “Baltimore”, I think abandonment. Neglect. Corruption. Politricks. Deprivation. Everyone loves to talk about the crime rate in Baltimore City, and I mean EVERYONE. I even overhear on the phone some of the things that go through my grandmothers head in regards to the crime rate, and she lives all the way in South Carolina. And while I do believe that media plays a huge role in this, I would be a fool to not acknowledge that the way that we talk about our city has just as much of an impact on how “out-of-towners” perceive this city just as the media does. Yes, the media may put it out there, but either intentionally or unintentionally we say it or we think it. The “crime” in Baltimore City is a direct reflection of the crime and violence that is perpetrated on the daily via City Hall, the mayors office, the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Baltimore Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s office, the governor’s office and aggressive gentrifiers such as Under Armor, Johns Hopkins, MICA and the University of Maryland. Now, while I do not endorse crime or violence, I would be a fool to not acknowledge why “crime” happens in the first place. The result of “crime” in Baltimore City stems from lack of resources, food deserts, dilapidated housing, In the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” Black Baltimore still doesn’t have grocery stores in every neighborhood. In the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” Black Baltimore still doesn’t have a reliable public transportation system. In the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” there is somehow no money for schools and our children’s education with school closures happening left and right, but we have all the money in the world for the Baltimore Police Department.

In an article posted by the abc2 news on March 29 2017, they discussed how in fiscal year 2018, more money  would be going towards youth than it will towards the police department. Andrew Kleine, the budget director for the City of Baltimore said, “This is a milestone, historic moment. Our funding education and youth development exceeds the police department budget.” How is this a milestone? Why is such a “historical” budget happening NOW? The gag is, however, that the Baltimore Police Department will STILL be getting over $497 million dollars. What’s all the celebrating about? Our children may receive an “increase” in funding, but our children will also still be getting terrorized by the police, slaughtered and discarded like garbage with utter impunity, and if they live through the injustice, they will be thrown into cell blocks and swallowed whole by the corruption of the judicial system. How can we sit idly by and allow this to happen to our children! If it were up to me, the Baltimore Police would be defunded a great deal, and I would give that money to the schools, recreational centers, and farmers, so that we would have healthy food, a stable educational institution that would teach the truth about this countries vile history, and would also have basketball courts with nets, freshly painted basketball courts and functioning water fountains. Their indoor gym would have a nice swimming pool, with swimming glasses and other things that they would need to enjoy their selves in the summer days. Football fields would be erected, and I would have some of Baltimore’s finest activists and organizers lead initiatives to teach kids not only how to play, but also how to change the world that they live in. Money would go towards art centers and theatre programs and writing centers, Our children would have all that they would need! Of course, I would eradicate lead paint poisoning, release fathers and mothers from jail who are serving petty drug crimes, and establish job development programs in every district. But no, instead, we celebrate over our children getting more than the police department, and that’s only because the police department gets so much money by the millions, to meet their quota and to carry out the strong stench of white supremacy. This is the state of Black Baltimore.

Baltimore Police is as corrupt as they come. Many out-of-towners are able to tell you the whole story of Freddie Gray up and down, forward and backwards. But do they know about Maurice Donald Johnson, who was killed by Baltimore Police in East Baltimore in his mothers living room as she stood and watched? Do they know about Tyrone West, who in 2013 was brutally beat and killed by 11-15 Baltimore officers during a “routine traffic stop?” Do they know about Anthony Anderson, who in 2012 was launched up in the air like a basketball by Baltimore Police, and slammed on his head, killing him? Do they know about Abdul Salaam, who was aggressively beaten, yanked out of his car and mauled in front of his son in his own neighborhood, by some of the same officers who murdered Tyrone West just weeks before West was killed? Do they know about Raymond Smoot, who in 2005 was stomped to death by 25-30 correctional officers in Central Bookings, all for refusing to re-enter his cell? Do they know about 13-year-old boy in East Baltimore who in April 2016  was shot twice by Baltimore Police for holding a replica gun? What about Keith Davis Jr?  These are just a few of many, many cases of maliciousness from the Baltimore Police? Fred Scharmen said [on Twitter], “We are basically paying the Fraternal Order of Police to sit around and come up with new reasons why cops shouldn’t be held accountable.” The Baltimore Police are vultures, preying on the impoverished with racism, terrorism and devilish antics. On top of that, only a slim few of our city councilmen and women are bold enough to confront their satanic ways. The Fraternal Order of Police has been exposed on countless occasions for their racism, via emails, interviews, and physical actions taken towards protestors and demonstrators who are well within their first amendment rights.  When it comes to policing in Black Baltimore, the state of our community is in need of a serious revolution. A change that can spread like wildfire. A sweeping movement. We don’t need our children being insulted, assaulted, humiliated and beaten. We are much more than this. We don’t need body cameras, which have been PROVEN not to work, and have been manipulated by the police on numerous occasions. We need a defunding, and an eventual disbandment of the police department, and with it, could come with an alternative to assuring that our streets are safe. Because as long as we know them as former slave catchers, all they’ll be doing is collecting money in their wallets, and collecting bodies in the morgue and the jail cell.

In his 2005 book, Breaking Bank, Norm Stamper discusses the racism that he witnessed during his time as a cop. He said, “Simply put, white cops are afraid of Black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim “color blindness,” we say white officers treat Black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie. In fact, the bigger, the darker the Black man the greater the fear. The African-American community knows this. Hell, most whites know it. Yet, even though it’s a central, if not the defining ingredient in the makeup of police racism, white cops won’t admit it to themselves, or to others.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal stated in his book, Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, “Police, therefore, don’t only perform a public anti-crime policy; in order to serve their financial and political masters, they must also commit crimes themselves, crime that involve violence, abuse, and thwarting basic constitutional freedoms and human rights.”

Mumia also stated in that same book, that worse than those wo wear the white robes [KKK] are those who wear the Black robe [judges]. Black Baltimore has a state’s attorney who has not been on the right side of history. She has wrongfully prosecuted and ruined the lives of so many of our Black men, and it’s under the guise of what she did that ONE time with the officers responsible of murdering Freddie Gray. Everyone wants to praise Mrs. Marilyn Mosby. But is Keith Davis Jr. praising her? Is his fiancé praising her? Only those who have not been victims of such heinous acts done by her administration are praising her. But to those who know better, and who can read between the lines, she is nothing worth praising. Black skin with white motives has been the theme in Baltimore City, and it is the way to trick and deceive the masses. But we will not be deceived. We see it, and we will call it out and expose it.

With all of this being said, the State of Black Baltimore is simply, in need of a revolution. We need bold Black men and women, who will stand up and say that enough is enough. We need self determination. We currently have people doing that now, and I am very aware of a number of organizations who are making this happen day by day… But if we are to have politicians and people who claim to be leaders of this city, we must hold them accountable and watch their every move. The state of Black Baltimore can be described as a body on life support. At every turn we have seen betrayal, lies and deceit from those who have promised to serve us in city hall, and from those who have promised to protect and serve us in the police department. We are being kicked out of our homes left and right, at the expense of a new medical building. Lead poisoning is effecting our minds and our health. School closures aren’t helping either. And on top of it all, we can’t even get a timely bus system. Our pain is muted, and Black clergy are complicit in the violence brought upon our people, as they ask for so much, yet dish out little to nothing. For these reasons above, I can say that as much as I love Black Baltimore, the state of it is in need of desperate, urgent repair. But, I feel that a revolution is around the bend, as Mumia describes radical movements as a volcano that looks dead on the outside, but is cooking up something on the inside.

Assata Shakur says in her autobiography, “The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.” And simply put, Black Baltimore ain’t tolerating it no more.

 

Black Baltimore Lead poisoning map:

https://www.housingpolicywatch.com/blighted-baltimore-vacants/jim-crow-is-alive-and-well/

Article on Feb. 4 2016 lead poisoning hearing at Baltimore City Hall:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-lead-paint-poisoning-hearing-20160204-story.html

Baltimore Police budget fiscal year 2018:

http://www.abcnews2.com/news/region/baltimore-city/preliminary-2018-baltimore-city-budget-spends-more-on-education-youth-over-police

Fred Scharmen’s profound remark on Twitter:

Norm Stamper’s book, Breaking Bank:

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s book, Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?:

Assata Shakur’s autobiography, Assata:

Twitter: @ShaivaughnC

love & refuge

I approached her after church, but that was only after I went back & forth on it about a hundred times during the service. I sat near the back, I was new & I hadn’t been going there a month yet. Still needed to feel my way through. She sat towards the middle. She had an aisle seat. She had on all Black. Black shoes, Black skinny jeans, a Black buttoned down collared shirt with a Black leather jacket. Black rimmed spectacles. Her jet-Black hair pinned down, I couldn’t tell whether or not it was long or short. Didn’t matter. I’d take her bald. My eyes were fixed on her the entire time, watching her leap up & down to all of the songs, flailing her hands around like tree branches in a windstorm. When she wasn’t doing that, she teetered back & forth like a seesaw. She was digging the music, all the while I was digging her. I liked how free she was. She wasn’t bound by anything & she didn’t care how she was perceived by the church or maybe even the world. I wanted that freedom. I wanted that level of liberation for myself. I knew I always had it, but I kept it bottled up inside. She made me wanna let loose with her. 

Dismissal. I got my things & acted like I was leaving, but would kind-of stall, as if I was waiting on somebody to walk out the door with me. I could pull it off well, because everybody was filing out of the door. Had to have been over 60 of us. I looked back & noticed that she was talking to somebody. So, I walked over to her from behind [where she couldn’t see me] & I tapped her on the shoulder. She swung around super fast, you would’ve thought I smacked her butt. I stuttered, but I managed spill out, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” She looked back at me with her widened eyes bursting through her lenses & said, “Yea.” She excused herself from whoever she was talking to & I apologized for interrupting the conversation.

I said, “Hey, I’m a little nervous, but I just wanted to say that you inspire me.” I don’t know where in the Hell that came from. I mean, it was true & all, but I didn’t mean to sound so dorky about it. I wanted to sound like a 22-year-old man, but I ended up sounding like a 13-year-old boy. She chuckled, leaned in close to me & said [very slowly], “Awww! That’s so sweeeet! Wooooow!” I was trying to figure out if that was some sort of speech impediment, that’s how slow she was talking. Then she asked, “You got a Facebook?” I lied & said no. I can’t be showing people I just met my Facebook. It ain’t nothing bad on there, I’m just funny like that. I said, “But I got an Instagram?” She smiled real hard & said, “Me too! Let me look me up on your page.” I gave her my phone & she found herself. Boom. We Instagram buddies now.

& from there, it’s history. We have been best friends ever since. I haven’t found anybody who truly “get’s me” like she does. We are EXACTLY alike in so many ways, that we have prayed & fasted to God to reveal to us whether or not we are destined to be together. She’s 27 & although we are close friends today, we never really shot down the idea of us being a “thing.” But I’m content with our friendship & I know that she is too. I won’t put her name out there, but I know she’s reading this. I love you, girl. You’re my joy in sorrow & my hope for tomorrow. In my loneliness, you show up. In my sadness, you cheer me up. & I’ll never, ever forget you, no matter where life takes us both. In you, I find love & refuge. You mean the world to me, girl. My joy in pain. My comrade. My home girl. My everything.

🌹

 

Here’s to 22…

Here’s to 22.

Joy, peace, kindness, love and mercy.

Here’s to 22.

Redemption, acceptance, patience, forgiveness.

Here’s to 22.

Faithfulness, attentiveness, commitment, trust.

Here’s to 22.

Books, coffee, perseverance, justice.

Here’s to 22.

Unity, stability, ability, nobility.

Here’s to 22.

Radical, Black, solidarity.

Here’s to 22.

Resistance, resistance, resistance.

 

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