“Yeah, we’re gonna tear it up/ We gonna trash it up/ Gonna round it up/
Gonna shake it up/ Oh no no no, I will not lie down/
Turn this thing around/ I will not go quietly…” –Don Henley
When, Black America, did we go hoarse? When did we become so consumed with Being Mary Jane and rocking 2 Chainz that we could allow our community to be subject to this country’s greatest Scandal? When did we become so afraid of discomfort that we would allow ourselves to be comfortable with injustices that plague our daily lives and our well-being?
And this isn’t just about Michael Brown’s cold blooded murder and Darren Wilson’s exoneration. This isn’t just about Tamir Rice and our boys’ inability to play cops and robbers with toy guns in a neighborhood park. This isn’t just about the acquittal of George Zimmerman, or the choke hold that killed Eric Garner, or the conviction of Marissa Alexander for telling her abuser to back off with a warning shot.
Oh, it is much bigger than this.
This is about voter ID laws in Southern states– laws that serve to reenact a new Jim Crow era by disproportionately disenfranchising black folks, immigrants and formerly incarcerated men and women from using their voices at the polls. This is about Republican governors’ refusal to expand Medicaid in half of the states across this country, once again disproportionately affecting the accessibility to affordable healthcare in impoverished and underserved communities full of people who are dark like me or who speak languages too foreign for the GOP to care about. This is about crack carrying heavier charges than cocaine and about what kind of trouble weed in the hood could get you versus pot in the suburbs. This is about HIV growing fastest among people of color than any other group. This is about an entire nation blatantly disrespecting our President on all fronts because he is a Black man.
And yet, there has never been a time when our people have acted as cowardly as they do today. Are we so distracted by raunchy rap music and ratchet reality TV that we have forgotten ourselves? Are we so busy filling the pews of mega-churches that we can no longer preach about our rightful place in this world? Are we so enamored by Facebook posts, Instagram images and Twitter tweets that we do not read in black and white the words of Garvey, Washington, X, Davis, King?—Because they still ring true today. Oh, yes—their words still ring true today.
And they would not have gone quietly, lying down and allowing the powers that be to walk all over us so we can feel a false sense of peace. They would not have sat in front of their televisions, lit up with scenes from protests and peace rallies, and pray for it all to blow over soon. Because it will not blow over soon.
Today, we are more powerful than we have ever been. With social media, cell phones and greater solidarity across color lines than ever before, we have the potential to mobilize, organize and create a force to be reckoned with. This is not the time to be quiet, to be cowardly, to be fearful. We must be strong, vigilant, active and brave if we are to pursue fight for justice. It is time for us to stop living off of yesterday’s legacy and start building up our own.
“We must organize for the absolute purpose of bettering our condition, industrially, commercially, socially, religiously and politically. We must organize, not to hate other men and women, but to lift ourselves, and to demand respect of all humanity. Our goal is not to create offense on the part of other races, but to be heard and to be given the rights to which we are entitled. We must determine among ourselves that all barriers placed in the way of our progress must be removed, must be cleared away for we desire to see the light of a brighter day.” —Marcus Garvey, an excerpt from “The Future as I See It.” (I took liberties and heavily edited, revised and modernized this excerpt– and I take full responsibility for it.)
How to Make Noise? Contact and get involved with these organizations: