I was holding off on doing another #Justise4All post until something came along that was worth my writing. Of course, in a society whose foundations are based in racial division and xenophobia, I knew I wouldn't have to wait long before a story peaked my interest. Case in point? Local alt-right rag, p/k/a the New York Post, and its "editor," Susan Edelman, decided to run [what they thought would be] an exposé on Hip-Hop Artist and New York City Fire Department Captain, Kaseem Ryan, a/k/a Ka. With the incisive subtitle, "FDNY captain who moonlights as anti-cop rapper," Edelman goes on to try and defame Ryan and label him as some sort of rabble rouser.
I won't post a link to the original article. Lightweights don't deserve my attention. However, you can read about the outcry by New Yorkers and the Hip-Hop community in Spin's reaction article: Click Here
As I've said, as much as I do write, I only write when I feel strongly about something, and given my family history, one can understand why this completely rubbed me the wrong way. That said, below is the letter I wrote in response to the NY Post's continued tradition of unprofessionalism and slanderous media parade, sent to Susan Edelman herself earlier this week.
Your choice to do a smear piece against Kaseem Ryan aka Hip-Hop artist, Ka, shows just how low your rag of a newspaper is willing to go in defaming Black citizens regarding their ongoing struggles w/their broken relationship with national law enforcement. This poorly written, simple-minded, compartmentalizing piece of “journalism” is aimed at painting Kaseem Ryan as a gun-toting, violence-inducing “thug,” when the opposite couldn’t be more veritable. Captain Ryan - for that’s how you should be referring to him - is, as you said, a veteran FDNY member, having fulfilled his duties as a hard-working Fire Officer and dedicating his life to helping others. This drummed up 440 [words] or so pitiful attempt at libel in some abstract support of the NYPD is far more destructive at sewing the seeds of division than any lyric he has put down on paper in his career as an artist.
As an Out Man of Color living in New York City, the adopted son of another FDNY Captain, as well as a family full of retired Fire Officers, I invoke my full privilege as such in calling this article - and your false journalism - for what it is: tabloid garbage. Until you have lived the life of a racially marginalized individual and experienced what it’s like to be seen by law enforcement as a potential threat or a moving target simply because of your identity, you have no right to excoriate those who do. Until you know what it’s like to have a job where the very real threat of mortal danger in the process of saving lives is an everyday occurrence, you haven’t the agency to speak on the lives of anyone who does. And until you realize that this kind of “reporting” is the very thing that’s tearing this country apart and the true culprit behind issues like racism and vigilante justice, you should keep your opportunistic, intellectually dishonest, ignorant opinions to yourself, instead of sharing them with millions of people.
It is, I think, safe to say that your “work” at a sewage plant like the New York Post, is, in every sense of the word, a disgrace. Shame on you.
Joseph P. Murray
Today, in my neighborhood, they are flying their flags at half mast in recognition of the police officers who lost their lives this past week. While their deaths are certainly unconscionable, and no one deserves a tragedy, the dichotomy of this act speaks volumes about the disparity between the races in this country. I know I will hear the names of these individuals during my music ministry at church when they enter into the Prayer of the Faithful, and there is no question we should all pray for the repose of souls lost to violence. But not once in the last few years has my parish or my hometown recognized or even mentioned the names of marginalized citizens who have been victims of brutality, racism, or injustice.
Last month, I sat through several different Catholic Masses the weekend of - and the weekend after - the horrific events in Orlando as part of my job as their cantor. There wasn't even a tertiary statement about the shooting. No flag was lowered, to the best of my memory, even though President Obama asked for a show of National solidarity. And now, as our divided nation is in parallel sets of grief over the loss of those it holds dear, I have to wonder if people who live where I live, who have been adamant about ideas like "All Lives Matter," and "Blue Lives Matter," have any regard for violence and death levied against Black and Brown bodies, what it does to their respective communities, and how it perpetuates a historical and cultural cycle segregation, one which is a foundational component of the United States.
In the end, I would still love nothing more than to be able to live and thrive in a country that truly invested in equality, blind justice, and fairness. How satisfying it would be to know that my contribution as a US citizen aided in that kind of Utopian vision, one where People of Color, Non-Christians, Women, the Disabled, and LGBTQ/SGL communities were unilaterally respected as beautiful, inherently important individuals, instead of some subhuman, inferior monolith. But the truth, my truth, is the truth of a nation whose very existence is predicted upon racist, sexist, classist, ableist, bigoted violence, as well as the continued exploitation of those whose skin is not the fair pigment of its forefathers. With this in mind, my apologies for my convictions, particularly after this past week, are run out for those who think I don't see the writing on the wall about how far too many White Americans see me, and those who look and love like me. Not only can I not remain silent - and obviously, I haven't - but I can no longer be stagnant or complicit.
So, in a way, I guess, this is an apology of sorts. Not for the things I've said or done thus far, but for whatever actions are to play out in my future. I'm sorry if you can't see value in the application of my abilities in the fight for justice and liberation of marginalized peoples as something vital or necessary. I'm sorry if you only got to know one side of me, and are shocked or upset about this so-called "new" Joey P. Murray. I apologize if the things you've read that I've written have offended you. But I'm not sorry I've written them. Not at all. Because sometimes - most times, actually - the truth is a painful medicine. But that doesn't make it any less important to take in order to cure a disease. And there is little doubt in my mind that racism, discrimination, and bigoted violence, wherever it may occur, is this nation's ongoing, violent, fatal disease, and it must be cured, not by any, but by all means necessary.