Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop. -Dorothy Height
For the past 5+ years, the Black Lives Matter movement has graced the lips of politicians, community activists, and millennials across the United States. With protests, signs and videos of unarmed men and women being brutally assaulted by cops plaguing television and social media threads, one would think that black lives truly matter. Yet, a question lingers….
When does a black life truly matter?
Does a black life matter more when it is taken by police brutality or a non-melanated person? When does a black life begin to have value?
I ask that you consider the following:
It’s Friday night and I am excited about gathering together with my musician friends for our monthly Jazz & Poetry showcase. Although I love the discipline of my musical friends (they practice), I refuse to practice outside of my shower time. When it is my turn to approach the mic, I am graciously accompanied by the drummer, who gives my lyrics a wonderful groove. With his rhythmic precision, the other band members join in and we rock the house!
Following the performance, the drummer meekly approaches me and tells me that he truly enjoyed my presentation. Honored, I accept his compliment and in turn tell him how delighted I was to have him join in with me. We talked about how long he had been playing the drums and also about his aspirations of becoming a rap artist. I told him that I looked forward to hearing his work at the next event and working with him in the near future.
Sunday evening, I received a phone call from a close friend asking if I knew about a family that was murdered in a triple homicide a couple of blocks away from my childhood home. I immediately said that I didn’t know anything about the incident and brushed it off as another drug deal gone awry in my neighborhood.
Monday morning, I was in shock to discover that I did know one of the victims in the crime- the drummer from Friday’s performance. The feeling reverberated once I discovered that the young man and his grandparents were law abiding citizens that had lived in the community for years. They were not petty thugs or Colombian drug lords, they were God-fearing community servants that adamantly gave to the sodality without question or complaint.
This discovery brought me to tears and anger.
This senseless death has my city crying out for questions, yet silence has shrouded the community, leaving an eerie feeling of hopelessness and rage. Although this incident took place on one of the most busiest blocks in town, no one knows anything.
How can our community make Capital Hill realize that Black Lives Matter when the same said life has no value in its own community?
Although there has been an influx of urban citizens wearing dashekis, listening to Minister Lois Farrakhan and watching slave movies; there is so much more to being “woke” than these surface scratching phenoms. Our communities need more than trendy hashtags, viral videos and debates to exhibit our greatness.
So many times, the urban community goes outside of itself by soliciting help from people who know nothing about the plight of the indigenous citizens. It’s as if the faction goes out of its way to show others how wonderful it is to be black, only to disparage the intellectuals that reside within its borders.
Once the community begins to acknowledge and embrace the precept that “charity starts at home” all things will begin to work for the inhabitants. When we begin to ask ourselves: “What can I do for my community?” and actually follow through with our answers- true and lasting change will take place.
It’s all good to be woke, but nothing can happen if we remain in bed.
*Images found on http://www.google.com