This has been a very trying couple of weeks for us here at JN Magazine. Covering the Michael Brown verdict drained us to nearly the very last, and then the Eric Garner verdict came around and kicked us while we were down. We’re angry. We’re hurt. We’re disappointed. And each and every single one of us has been exhausted from having the same conversation across every social media platform imaginable.
None of us have the individual wherewithal to compose coherent thoughts on the Eric Garner case. But as a team we came together to humbly present our group thoughts on the matter. So here we present them, from some of our current (and future!) staff at JN Magazine:
Ruby Velez: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
Fannie Lou Hamer spoke these words in 1964 to express her rage at the abuse hurled at black bodies, and not a goddamn thing has changed since. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired – of black men and boys killed with impunity, of brown people being declared as less than human because they had the gall to be born elsewhere, of those of us who are deemed too “ethnic” because of our hair, or “exotic” because we are too tanned, too curvy to fit a racist mold of what it means to be presentable and beautiful.
Our allies are failing us. They bemoan protests and riots because property has more value than people. They forget that without those loud, strident voices, none of them would remember the names of those who died at the hands of an establishment meant to protect and serve.
Would you still be talking about these brown and black men, women and children who lose their lives without the anger expressed in the street?
Or would they simply fade into obscurity?
Courtenay Edelhart: Journalism ethics prohibit me from taking public positions on political issues I could potentially write about as a newspaper reporter.
Gavriela Rivka: I thought so much better of the city that I have called home for six years going on seven.
I thought wrong. I clearly have a lot of waking up and learning to do, and that makes me sick to my stomach and embarrassed in ways that I can’t even describe.
Malynnda Littky: I am willing to grant that police officers, generally speaking, are not intentionally killing (primarily) young Black men, and act “in extremis”, feeling personally endangered, or that members of the public are endangered, when these incidents occur.
However, I do not believe that race plays no part in setting up the chain of events which lead to the incidents in question. Would a young Caucasian man be approached in the same aggressive way that escalates a situation so quickly? Would that same Caucasian man be stopped at all under similar circumstances?
The way to resolve this problem is to change the interactions between the police and the public, so that fewer civilians are injured and killed, and not to place our hopes in indictments. By then, it is far too late.
Tzipi Sutin: Does NYPD have a safe word? “I can’t breathe” isn’t enough apparently. I’m beyond angry now. I am very very sad that even with all of the outrage over the decision not to indict in the Brown murder that another clearer cut violation of rights will not be taken seriously. Maybe being a murderer will become a prerequisite for those seeking employment as a cop.
Tyler Samuels: I have no emotion anymore, once again justice is blind when it comes to the systematic violence used against people of colour. What am I suppose to do but condemn it? I have no trust for this justice system that I pay for and expect to defend me not to kill me. But it goes beyond white privilege…its the problematic training, hiring and supplying of arms to these police officers. That is something we all need to speak out against as well.
Isaiah Rothstein: Do I raise my voice or my fist? Do I demand justice from above or below? Do I look to the objectified ISIS to point out injustices when those who represent me, remain silent at the injustices on American soil? I no longer know, but what I do know, is courage, and the courage to act in the name of justice, are the healing modalities that take us through the cold and dark winter. #chanukah
MaNishtana: Obey the law, you say. And you kill us when we do.
Obey the police, you say. And you kill us when we do.
Record police encounters, you say. And you kill us when we do.
We even stay inside our homes, and you come in and kill us when we do.
Do you really think Black America is going to just sit around while you figure out the next place you can kill us? If you do, then you’re dead wrong.
This isn’t 1930’s Germany, and we aren’t the German Jews.
We aren’t going to sit silently hoping things will get better and thinking they can’t get any worse, slowly descending into your solution of The Black Question all the way into whatever ovens you’re planning on building.
Because we’ve been here already, America, and you can’t fool us.
We’ve been here for 400 years and watched you LEGALLY enslave us, and LEGALLY segregate us, and LEGALLY give us substandard conditions, and LEGALLY kill us. And. You. Haven’t. Stopped.
So don’t tell us about what “LEGALITIES” we should’ve abided by to not end up dead. Because when you’re the right skin color, you can murder theaters full of movie-watchers, murder schools full of children, riot because your sports team won, riots because your sports team lost, riot over some damn PUMPKINS, and still make it all the way to trial with nary a scratch.
You don’t like Black riots? You don’t like Black protests? They’re inconvenient for you? They really mess up your day plans?
WE don’t like burying grooms the day before their wedding. WE don’t like burying teens before they can reach college. WE don’t like burying teens before they can reach HIGH SCHOOL. WE don’t like burying people for walking down their OWN hallways. WE don’t like burying people for eating their favorite candy bar.
You’re on a ticking clock, Racist America. You’re on a ticking clock, Apologist America. You’re on a ticking clock, Willfully Racially Insensitive America.
Because even MLK, who you like to pull out of your ass in times like these, said that he could “neither condone nor condemn riots” and that it was “the language of the unheard”.
And most of Black America? They don’t have fancy blogs or fancy fan pages on Facebook to write fancy statuses. They don’t write fancy books that wax poetic on the racial state of America. And most of them–who are already disenfranchised from the majority of America–have just been told TWICE in the space of a month that they have nothing to lose.
So good luck with that.
There will be no silent shipping off in trains or deportations into concentration camps in the night. You will have a fight every single step of the way.
And you would’ve asked for it.