#BlackLivesMatter

By Nebeu Abrah (’18)

CC BLMHe who witnesses an injustice but stands idly by and allows the injustice to continue is just as bad, if not worse, than the original aggressor. With this belief in mind, last Tuesday, we shut down Cascade Avenue.

Recently, Darren Wilson was not indicted for murdering Michael Brown. As I sat with my fellow peers in complete disbelief following the decision, it became clear to me that the verdict meant that Michael Brown’s life was declared unworthy of trial. This case is relevant because it is bigger than just Michael Brown. This case made an indirect statement on the status of Black men in America. Black Lives simply don’t matter as much. Black lives are disposable, black people are a source of danger, and our “justice” system will allow Black lives to continually be taken without any repercussion and in some case with reward.

It is imperative to recognize the main point to take away from our rally is that we are not just protesting Daren Wilson. We are not just outraged by his freedom. What we are painstakingly frustrated with is the system that makes stripping Black mothers of their teenage sons common place. This specific case is not necessarily all that matters, what mattes is the message that it sends and the legal system that the case was subject to. Although it sure would have helped ease the pain, Darren Wilson’s arrest would not have ended police brutality or bring Michael Brown back to life.

We often become much too concerned with the “facts” of the case, which are often frighteningly easy to skew, when the single truth that we need to focus on is that a life was lost when it didn’t need to be. That’s it. Michael Brown is dead. Black teens are being gunned down in the streets as if it were a national sport. This is the problem. When the verdict came out, I was not concerned with Darren Wilson. In my eyes, it was the killing of Black teens that was not indicted that day. This is the injustice that I see and the injustice that I have and will continue to combat.

Practicality is a luxury that we couldn’t afford. To catalyze the change that we wanted to see, my fellow Black Student Union officers and I had to think big. After spending much of the evening just trying to process the non-indictment of Wilson, around midnight, we began to take action. The march that shutdown streets in the second biggest city in the state of Colorado, the march that had several news stations begging for interviews, the march that had police officers scrambling to redirect traffic and regain control of the streets, was all started by 4 heartbroken students who wanted change. Once one person proposed the idea that we should shut down a street, we ran with it. We were up with the team of student leaders at Colorado College sending last minute emails and speaking to news stations after hours at 2 am. We knew that the college bound Michael Brown would have had a prolific voice if he had lived, but we wanted to ensure, that in his death, his voice would ring out ten times louder than it ever would have.

For the Michael Browns of the past, present, and future, we fight.

Statement on Ferguson

Ferguson

Black Lives Matter

After learning of the Grand Jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown on August 9 this year in Ferguson, MO, I struggled with deciding how to teach the following day. I decided to write a statement to read—or at least interpolate—for fear that I may not be able to “stick to” the point. I decided to share that statement here:

This feels like one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to walk into a classroom and teach.

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself reminding my comrades—here and across the globe—that we are enough, that what we’re doing to eradicate oppression is enough. I’ve been given the same advice.

TCB

Toni Cade Bambara

I’ve always had—and always will have—a problem with politics that are entirely reactionary, especially since my comrades and I are committed to valuing life 365 days a year, not just when that decision is made by MSNBC or even NPR. Since, Monday, November 17, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, my comrade at The Feminist Wire, and I have been co-curating and co-editing a forum honoring the life, work, and legacy of Toni Cade Bambara. And one of my favorite quotes of hers is, “Not all speed is movement!” I appreciate it so much that I used it in the title of the essay I wrote to introduce the forum, which will run until we take a TFW break for the month of December. In my introduction, I also quote Steven G. Fullwood, who writes, “When Black people witness or experience an injustice so profoundly perverse, so vile and painful, before acting we need sustenance, we need perspective and we need to figure out how to change shit.”

Last night, Aishah and I published a brief response to the Grand Jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO this past August. In that essay, we write, Toni Cade Bambara “was very clear that we should resist being manipulated by the manipulation that is often disguised as news and/or entertainment.” For that reason, we remind our readers that Toni, “at least for us, has been and always will be the truth, the light, and the way. We are explicitly clear that our commitment to honoring her is just what we need now and every other heinous time when Black life is met with treachery and murder.”

Still, I’ve been wracking my brain since the decision was announced, trying to figure out what to do today, trying to think about what would be best for you and for me. Of course, the original plan was to play a fun and humorous game of Critical Media Studies Jeopardy. To be honest, that may still happen—it depends on what we all think and feel after I finish reading this statement.

But, if I’m being honest, part of me feels extremely guilty for even thinking about having fun and making jokes today. The other part of me feels extremely guilty for even thinking about not doing that which is true to me and my pedagogy, especially since state-sanctioned violence against the most marginalized communities in our country and throughout the world is always a “topic of discussion” in all of my classes, including this one, and it always has been and always will be—long after the rest of the world has forgotten about Mike Brown in the same way that we’ve forgotten about so many already.

Aiyana

Aiyana Stanley-James

Tamir Rice was 12. My son is 10. Aiyana Stanley-Jones was 7. My daughter is 8. And when we were talking about the Grand Jury verdict last night, they were distraught, confused, and angry. In my daughter’s words, they were “outraged.” She said she’s “scared of Americans.”

But you know what? My husband and I loved on them, played with them—even as I was posting rapidly on social media, reminding folks that our Civil Rights Movement “heroes” were shot, sprayed with water hoses, and bitten by police dogs because of their commitment to eradicating injustice. We laughed with them, sang with them—even as I was posting pictures of white folks vandalizing property in response to the firing of Joe Paterno at Penn State and the Pumpkin Festival this fall. Throughout all of that, we still had to maintain our responsibility as parents even as we could not and would not ignore what was happening in Ferguson or anywhere else in the world. And I feel that same sense of responsibility today, as your teacher.

Clay and Nebeu

Colorado College Students Protesting the Grand Jury Decision not to Indict Darren Wilson for Homicide

Author’s Note: As I was reading the statement, I decided—with the support of my students—to have some fun and play Jeopardy. I think they learned a lot, and so I’ve done my job. Additionally, after shedding numerous tears while listening to Tupac’s “My Block” (Russell Simmons Presents The Show: The Soundtrack, 1995), I was able to stand with my students who organized a protest of the Grand Jury decision earlier that afternoon. I was, and still am, so proud and honored to stand by their side.