#Justise4All No. 14

⟦On Brussels⟧

Waking up to the news in Belgium this week reminded me of just how insensitive, socially unresponsive, and poorly reported these incidents are. All these "journalists," TV personalities, and politicians...they don't give a damn about the several dozen dead, or the injured. They care about saying something to keep their job and keep them popular with their circle of attention. They care about making sure that you have an emotional response to their nonsense. They care about themselves, and the people to whom they must answer. And you eat it up. You get mad, you get upset, you get scared, all the things that should be secondary to using the two things that can help prevent future incidents like this: your heart and your brain.

With due respect to those who lost their lives in this act of violence, how many people die every day through similar violent acts, and we either don't know about it, or choose not to care? How many people this week committed suicide, or lost their lives due to complications from AIDS, or become victims of rape and sexual assault? All things that each of us can help alleviate or prevent in the simplest ways, many of those ways involving just being kind to people and thinking before we act. But no, we instead wait for the sensationalist theatrics of an admittedly unconscionable crime against humanity to remember just how human we really are. We want the spectacle of death to give us a nudge on the shoulder and force us to re-examine what it is our lives are about, instead of being thankful everyday for the life that we have and using it to make someone else's life better.

I want nothing more in this world then for people to live in peace. I want nothing more than for justice to be done for people who are constantly being robbed of it. I want nothing more than for people to be free. But as long as we are imprisoned by this morbid addiction to death and violence, then death and violence are all we can expect from people who have nothing left to live for. What else besides desperation leads people to think that constant violence and bloodshed will bring them the answers, long-term ones, to satisfy their desires? What else besides the hope for something better in death or perpetuating it would anyone want to take the life of another? And what is it going to take for us to realize just how wrong that actually is?

When you look at the news today, or read your local paper, and they talk about places like Belgium, or Istanbul, or Pakistan, or the ravaged war-torn places of the world like Africa, always remember that you have the potential to be a critical thinker, and that you have the opportunity, as someone who is not directly experiencing these tragic events, to find out just how and why they happen. Pray for the dead, that should go without saying. But it is time that we as a human family stop waiting for tragedy to inspire us to be better people. It shouldn't be a tragic event that spurs us to action to love one another and help each other get free. Your opportunity to stop people from becoming desperate and willing to rob other people of their dignity, their humanity, and their lives, starts right now. Seize that opportunity. Be kind. Think for yourself instead of letting others think for you. Do the research before you condemn anyone. And most importantly, never forget that at the forefront of what so many people are struggling for when it comes to topics like justice and liberation, is love.


#Justise4All No. 13

⟦On Stereotypes, US Law Enforcement, and Ignorance⟧

Though I’m confident I have noted this before amongst friends and social media forums, I must reiterate a very interesting and poignant observation I’ve made when talking bout social justice issues, particularly when it’s about law enforcement as it pertains to Communities of Color in the US. I find this observation to be sad, generally speaking, because while it is certainly subjective in nature, it is no less honest, and one that various colleagues have noted as well.

What I’ve observed is that when speaking about topics like police brutality, corruption, and summary executions of unarmed Black + Brown Americans, in the midst of getting great insight from the many police officers who are family/friends, the most offended, angry, cold responses about these topics, even just as a tertiary social reference, have been from White American male cops. Across the board, my engaging with White officers who are women, and People of Color employed by Police Departments, even if the discussions have been heated, has always rendered a sense of mutual understanding and respect. For myself and many others, this sentiment, unfortunately, has not been shared by their White male counterparts, to the point where I’ve lost a good friend and musical colleague whom I believe is now a NYPD Detective. Quite simply, he told me to screw off; I believe the last text was, “Go back to your bubble.”

When you run up against mental walls like this, one should be able to understand why the concept of nonviolence and peaceful negotiations suddenly become a useless form of disrupting the system to demand justice. How do you fight people who don’t want to listen, and will shut you down from the moment you engage them?

The latest example of this came from a man - a retired NYPD officer - who saw one of my Facebook posts, and responded by saying: “Your ignorance is astounding.” Not one to take petty insults lightly, I engaged him to demand his reasoning. What I got back was a list of his accomplishments on the job and an angry, offensive take on my perspective. There was no hope of getting through to him about the things I inherently understood about identifying as a Person of Color, how that affects my interactions with police officers, or the historic and present-day antagonizing experienced by marginalized communities on behalf of law enforcement nationwide. The cheapest comebacks had to do with “Bad Apples,” and “Black on Black crime.”

For a man who professed his nearly two dozen years on the job, this kind of glancing blow to a justifiable point of debate solidified what I already had been realizing when it came to this specific issue; namely, that there would likely be this kind of response when speaking to/with White male cops about this, and that this stereotypical indignation must be taken into account when seeking solutions to these problems. As far as addressing the original insult, I will say this much:

Calling someone ignorant on the basis of your personal convictions means you not only misunderstand the definition of the word, but you're using your emotional response to what you are experiencing as justification for your insult. Ignorance, in its purest form, has neither a positive nor a negative connotation. It merely means that one does not know or understand a particular person, place, thing, or idea. In fact, society might be a better place if, when its members are told of their ignorance in a particular area, they didn't immediately take it as an insult but as an impetus to learn more about whatever it is their accuser claims is beyond their scope.

I have never, not once, claimed to be someone who knew or experienced the idiosyncrasies associated with being a police officer. Not only would that be ignorant, it would be a lie. I'm a terrible liar. What I do know is that the individual ability to hold other people accountable to the law, as is part of the job of a law enforcement officer, provides that individual with a form of power. What I also know is that power corrupts. What I've come to understand about corruption is that it happens the moment we receive power, and that said corruption doesn't have to be some major scandal at your job. It can be as minor as taking the few privileges and creature-comforts that are not legally a part of the job but that come with the package.

In this country, we are dealing with an institution that is not only inherently racially biased, but that is inherently prone to corruption. And that propensity towards existing above the laws which this institution is supposed to respectfully enforce has prematurely ended countless lives and eviscerated the lifeblood of entire communities. So I find it odd, if not sad, that people would call me ignorant, when far too much research and history proves me right. In the end, how much good you do in any given situation will almost certainly be weighed against the times you're not willing to identify and work to eliminate the things that stop you from doing good, or simply ignore the bad.

Because that, my ‘astounded’ friend, is called WILLFUL ignorance. And "the power of willful ignorance cannot be overstated."


#Justise4All No. 12

⟦Guest Post: From the Desk of Netic⟧

*NOTE: Artist and Colleague Netic certainly lives up to the term, “Jack of All Trades,” having made a name for himself in various areas of creativity and public life. But even though we share mutual friends in the business, it’s his uncompromising worldview that I have found to be extremely poignant as well as ridiculously accurate, and not just because I agree with his perspective. That said, the following is his response to a racist picture taken recently, shown here. As I’ve said before, I am no longer here to pander to anyone’s fragility, so while no one person is going to agree 100% with another on even the most comparable of issues, my disclaimer of Netic’s views being his own is with the primary hope that you will engage his thought process, or, at the very least, consider what he has to say as opposed to dismissing it because of its strong verbiage. With this in mind, this is probably *NSFW* and should be read on your lunch break if you’re on the clock. Enjoy

(Edited for Syntax)

Dear White People:



Racism is not a Black/Brown problem. We have other problems, we have shit we gotta fix on our end, but racism isn't our issue.

This is on y'all.

This is your legacy of savagery, and when you stay quiet, you're letting it [become] your present savagery. If you don't stand up and take issue, that shit is gonna be your undoing. People think focusing on race issues is dividing the country. I've even heard White people whisper [about their] fear of a Race War.

Well guess what?
Can't be a “Race War" if White people are standing up against racist White people with everyone else. Punch ya friend in the face if he says some racist shit, I've punched my friends in their face for crossing lines. This is how we learn…If your friend is racist/sexist, you're most likely racist/sexist too. If your friend beats women and you don't step up against that action, you beat women. If you do nothing then you did everything.


I'm not easy, people are cautious around me because they know I ride for what's right and I don't care who it is, where I am, or what it jeopardizes. If it feels wrong to me, if it feels like the Devil, I'll slay it. Fuck your comfort, fuck my comfort, fuck it all. I'm not compromising my integrity because you chose to compromise yours. Don't cheat on your wife around me. Don't lie in my presence. Don't let you inner devil out in front of me. I will take a Devil’s head because by doing so, it removes the Devil in Self.

I am no better than anyone else. I have just committed my self to slaying the Devil within. White people, slay this Devil that grows in you and your people. We have our own demons from racism and sexism and gender shit we gotta deal with. [We’ve] got a slave [and] religious mentality that we have to fight, we have work to do.

But don't burden us with your work, too.

We got our own shit.
Clean up your shit.

Original Post 3.9.16: Click Here


#Justise4All No. 11 [Facebook Redux]

*NOTE: Similar to my Instagram redux, the following are pulled from my closed personal Facebook account. Rather than relegate my prior thoughts to digital antiquity, I've decided to trot out some of my ideas that still hold relevance in current narratives. I hope you enjoy.

⟦On the US partisan binary⟧

Reality Check: Partisan politics will not save America. I don't care which party you feel has better ideas, is on higher moral ground, or whose socio-economic history better suits your concept of how a functioning government should operate. We as a Nation have been too caught up in the grandstanding, half-truths, and outright lies that have been purported by both major political factions and filtered down to the lowest common denominator via the horrifically biased mainstream media. Parse w/me if you wish, but it is pretty clear that neither the Democratic nor Republican regimes are properly equipped to bring about the "restoration" of this country, if for nothing else, because both sides have staunchly refused to take responsibility for their actions and replaced culpability with vilification. If all our elected officials care about is vindication for the basis of their beliefs - and it would certainly seem that's all this has become; a popularity contest - then baby, we all should grab some paddles and see how fast we can row before we find ourselves any further up Shit's Creek. Think for yourself, be present, and believe what you learn for yourself; not the hype.

⟦On the importance of historical context⟧

People get confused as to why I bring up so much historical context when I talk politics, especially when it comes to social justice. The reason is because we love to forget certain parts of our past, while glorifying others. You want people to "get over" slavery and its effects still present in society today, but you'll have no problem going on about the oppression of the Western European working poor, both here and across the pond. You have so much to say about how Islam specifically instructs its followers to destroy non-believers & establish a Muslim caliphate, but act as if the Roman Catholic Church and its Imperial Will wasn't responsible (directly & indirectly) for the unjust subjugation and, in cases, obliteration of whole groups of civilizations from the planet. You want the American Government to keep its hands out of American business, suggesting that it can balance itself out using its own financial/moral compass, but when facts dictate that its most prominent leaders & investors have deliberately swindled hard-working citizens out of their living wages, instead of holding the appropriate parties responsible, you point your fingers to the very Government whom your colleagues fought tooth & nail to try and keep out of the process; a Government which has now made this economic disaster twice as contemptible by forcing those same citizens to compensate for the mistakes of greedy men who they would otherwise have nothing to do with. If folks don't appreciate when people like me bring up parts of our past that aren't as pretty, then maybe we should do a better job of looking at the past objectively, and make a real effort to learn from it. Til then, deal.

⟦On a racial police encounter⟧

*NOTE: This this post chronicles an event that occurred in November of 2013 to my close friend, who is a NYPD Captain. I have left his name out for legal reasons and out of respect for his job security, but the incident is no less true. I wanted to highlight it earlier but couldn't find it, and am posting it now to point out that racism in all its ugliness does not stop once a marginalized citizen puts on a police badge. This small story is a microcosm of why I will never disown any Person of Color in the US who holds a position in law enforcement, simply because i.m.o. that attitude serves no purpose outside of Supremacy's dismissive, propagandized agenda. If Black Lives Matter, then my friend's life matters too, whether he is on or off the job.

"Last night I decided to take a cab to the gym instead of waiting in the chill for the bus. The following occurred. As [the] cab approached the intersection of Fordham [Road] and University [Place], there were two NYPD officers on the street. As we passed them, I...happened to be looking out the window at the same time [they were looking in the vehicle], and made eye contact with one of them. Thinking nothing of it, I went back to social networking on my phone. The cab then stopped at the red light at the above mentioned intersection. 5 seconds later, the same two officers start banging on the cab for the driver to turn off the car and unlock the doors. The White officer instructs the driver to speak to the other officer...he starts with the question, "Where did you pick this gentleman up from?" The driver, of course, has no idea what the cop is saying [because] his English is next to none. The White officer now pulls open my door and instructs me to step out if the car...I replied, "Are you serious?" His response...was, "Of course I'm f**king serious." I take one step out the cab with one foot still inside, step up, reach into my pocket, open my wallet, show shield and ID, and simply reply, "well I'm serious too." [I] place [my] wallet back in [my] pocket and sit...back in the cab. Shocked and pissed off now, the officer shouts, "Well you don't have to have a f**king attitude!" And slams the door! His partner - dumbfounded as to his partner slamming the door - says, "Wussup?" The White officer replies, "That @sshole is PD." Tells the driver have a good night and they walk away. WTF!!!!"