by Tirhakah Love (@GoonTherapy)
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
Say Her Name.
Popping in Quazzy’s, “Death of Aiyana Jones,” reminded me, as a black man, that our entry points into “wokeness” often begin just outside our doorstep. Based in New York, via Saginaw, Michigan, the sound engineer drops us into his living room where the newsreels reveal the unjust killing of ten-year-old Aiyana Jones by a white police officer 90 minutes away from his home. Sonically, “Death of Aiyana Jones,” is a calm lyrical carried by an open-ended, classic sampling of Arthur Verocai’s “Na Boca Do Sol.” The record is shimmy-inducing but the prose is “press-pause so a goon can think-worthy.” The hook, a simple euphemism (“the more you see the more you know), wills the audience to remember that our starting points are spectacle ( images/stories curated for mass media consumption) — but the absorptive quality of spectacle is a useful tool for any fight against injustice.
The shelf-life of public, progressive, black organizations is often determined behind the curtain, amongst the whisper deliberations of its leaders. The same fault lines that divide society — gender, age, sexuality, and color–dissolve the resolve of the fiercest leaders that this country has ever seen. Groups where black women are emphatically present are still subject to secondhand oppression — black women made up 50% of The Black Panther Party at their peak but was ravaged by sexual assault and patriarchy, bureaucratic male- patronage crippled SNCC and there are still black male “Black Lives Matter” activists who willfully silence black women from articulating their very particular pain. “Death of Aiyana Jones,” is an echo of the black girl’s elimination, a welcome recognition by an artist in the midst of reimagining a more just world. Using what he can. Attempting to empower those who need his/our/ collective support the most.
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