Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We Are One

Sean Taylor is dead. And I'm sad to say that it didn't make me sad. I was not shocked. I did not find myself searching to make sense of a senseless loss of life. I simply listened to the words of a friend and said, "He died?" It was more of a twist than a shock, the equivalent of encountering rain on a day when the weather was supposed to be sunny. Sean Taylor, a 24 year old Black man, a safety -- I'll refrain from expounding on the irony of a "safety" being shot and killed in his own home -- a Washington Redskin, a father, a long-term boyfriend, a son, a brother, a friend, had died. "Oh well," I thought, "I should check my email." That was essentially it. Then I thought, "What the hell has happened to me?"

I cried when Tupac died. I cried real tears. The loss hit me in a way so powerful that I still remember that it was Friday the 13th. Friday, September 13th. It is filed away in my mind and it appears on my personal calendar...along with March 9th, the day Biggie died.

I don't know the exact date that Jam Master Jay was killed. But I do remember that it was near Halloween. I remember because a close friend called and asked if I thought it would be weird if he dressed as Jay for Halloween that year. "Are you doing it as a joke?," I asked. He answered quickly, "Nah...not at all." My advice was concise. "Well, if people ask, tell them that. And if they don't like it, tell them to suck your fuckin' dick." I wore shell toe Adidas, a hoodie and a leather jacket -- the look Jay introduced to Run DMC and then the world. Yeah, it was definitely around Halloween.

I haven't written a Musing in a while. I've thought about it many times. But somehow I couldn't capture succinctly what it was that I wanted to share. I suspect that may still be the case, so I pray you'll stay with me, New Millennium Nation.

You see, it is not that I haven't written because I have nothing to say. In fact, I have so much I want to say that I have not been able to effectively organize it. I've seen the story of the Black woman in West Virginia who was held and tortured for a week ( by six White people. I've read the story of Christopher Newsom, Jr. and Channon Christian, the White couple from Knoxville, TN, who were abducted, raped, tortured and murdered by four men and a woman, all of whom were Black. ( I've read of these atrocities and more -- every day, more, it seems -- and I have wanted to write this simple message.

Back in the late Spring, I was sitting in the rocking chair in my kids' bedroom, watching them play. I was tired -- I'm always tired, it seems -- so I was sitting quietly and letting the twins do their thing. Then, as I gazed down at my daughter, a moment occurred that has left me forever changed. I experienced what I can only describe as a glimpse of "The Truth." Suddenly, I was aware that my late mother was there with me and my daughter. But I knew in that moment -- not in my head, but in that deep "I know that I know" place -- that we were not three distinct entities. "We are one." The message was clear. The beauty of the moment was unspeakable. And just like was over. But I had "seen" it. Like Neo seeing the Matrix. Like Luke using The Force. I had seen it, The Truth. We are one.

Now, I don't mean that in a touchy-feely "Can't we all just get along?" way. I mean quite literally that we are all basically and fundamentally connected to one another. I had glimpsed The Truth that produced the idea that "everything is everything." I remembered a lyric I had written.

I know we call it joy
when we send the praise up
but I'll be feelin' no joy
'til we all raise up
and it ain't all about race
as seen by my eye
'cause if everything is everything
then race is a lie

Yes, a lie. We're living a lie. Many lies really. Many lies which all conspire to tell one giant lie. Separation. The very idea that men and women...Blacks and Whites...Koreans and the Chinese...Christians and Muslims...Muslims and Jews...Jews and Christians...all three of those groups and atheists...Democrats and Republicans...liberals and conservatives...Coke people and Pepsi people..."American football" fans and "soccer/football" fans...Ginger guys and Mary Ann guys...lightskinneded niggas and darkskinneded niggas...Yankee fans and Red Sox fans...Crips and Bloods...lefties and people and cat people...straight people and gay people...people who love my Musings and stupid people...

PHEW! This goddamn list really is endless.


Now, I feel I must come clean. I haven't tackled this Musing after all this time for one simple reason. I've been scared. I've been scared that I would sound crazy or silly or...I don't know what. But whatever it is, I realize I just can't give a fuck about that anymore. This message can't simply be stated. It must be shouted.


I now know that there are only two forces in the world: love and fear. Yes, I have been afraid to put myself out there like this. But my love for you must overwhelm my fear of you. I know that if it doesn't happen soon...if the revolution that I see and that I propose doesn't come soon...that we will do harm that can not be undone to our world, to ourselves.


I won't insult the memories of people who were raped and tortured by those of another race by reducing their deaths to an opportunity to keep score in the American Race Game that produces only losers. I won't engage in the opportunism that surrounds incidents like "The Duke Rape Case." I will simply say that we have created a world that produces these moments. And so, We have raped and tortured these people. And only We can stop that from happening in the future. Only We can create a world where we recognize, celebrate and cherish each other's humanity. And if we do manifest that reality, there will be no more stories like these. And, in the meantime, we might be able to mourn the human indignity and tragedy and stop the game of societal tit-for-tat that left me smirking at the OJ verdict and thinking, "Yeah, y'all muthafuckas didn't cry after the Rodney King verdict. Now it's your turn to cry." I hope my son never thinks that thought. I hope I can teach him that...


No, I did not cry for Sean Taylor. And I realize that in that moment, I was so wrapped up in this "reality," that I had lost touch with that which is real...


My heart has been hardened by a lifetime of stories of young brothers being shot, being killed. The leading cause of death for Black men 19-34 is murder. I'm now 35. That means that if I die of cancer in the next month, I was one of the lucky ones. That is fucked up. In my lifetime, I had mourned Big L...and Scott La Rock...and Proof...and Darrent Williams...and...and...and...the list seems literally endless. When the NAACP buried "Nigger," I remember thinking, "If only that was the only nigger buried in Detroit that week." A nigga being killed is not shocking to me. In fact, it has become commonplace. I am no more shocked by the death of Sean Taylor than I am by water being wet or finding the sun rising in the East.

Somewhere, some nigga thinks they got away with killing Sean Taylor. (Yes, I'm making assumptions. If you don't like it, call Jesse and Al and have them throw one of their uber-effective "nappy headed ho's" rallies in front of my house.) What is lost on the nigga who killed Sean Taylor is the reality that struck me after the Virginia Tech killings, the dark joke that pokes at my consciousness after every murder/suicide. Murder is suicide. It truly is. Because...


We weave elaborate fictions to fight fictitious wars against an enemy that by definition can not be defined. (Terror is a noun, not a nation. This interminable "War on Terror" will bankrupt us financially and in far more profound ways.) We abuse the patriotism of Pat Tillman and thousands like him, others who didn't have quite as high a profile. We position ourselves to engage in yet another elective war, where innumerable civilians will lose their lives. And we finance it all from coffers that we fill with our tax dollars, as we leave more and more children behind. Those children will no doubt be exposed and, in most cases, fall victim to the lies and unconsciousness that has led to teenagers across this nation beating -- and sometimes killing -- the homeless for sport, as a pastime. And some of them will no doubt draw on the bile that will well within them as they are abused and/or neglected by this society. And they will let the hater in them win out, as they kill the next Sean Taylor. And I wonder how to intercede with this message I feel I have been given to deliver...


In a world where resources could be used to save lives, Michael Vick "invested" in a dog fighting ring that, in the end, put an end to the lives of innocent creatures and to the life of a superstar he once knew. R. Kelly pisses on Black girls and that seemingly stops no one from continuing to "step in the name of love" as he puts out album after album. The NAACP buries "The N-Word" even after giving Isaiah Washington (of "F-word" fame) an Image Award...not an acting award, an IMAGE Award! Don Imus was for a moment the face of all that was wrong in America. He's back on the radio and the beat goes on. The Bush administration's parting gift to America is going to be a war with Iran. Nooses are apparently as ubiquitous on this nation's campuses as books and bongs. Jena 6?! Don't get me started. Public gay-bashers are exposed as private freaks. Yes, that is all true.

And if we are one, then it is also true that, at present, we are a fucking idiot. But we can change that. We can make a decision in this moment to be, as Gandhi suggested, "the change we want to see in the world." We are out here. We believe that life is precious. We believe that false divisions are used to pit us against one another, occupying us with what are ultimately trivialities, while the opportunity to make this world a better place passes by us. We know that we should "fight War, not wars," as a high school student shared with me recently. Let's hurry. There is no time to waste. Let's come together today and begin the revolution, one that begins within and which will leave us without 24 year old superstars being killed in their own homes while the love of their life huddles under the covers with their infant daughter.

Let's hurry. I'd like to make a change in time to mourn Sean Taylor as he deserves to be mourned -- as a part of WE -- before I am distracted with debates of Obama's Blackness and "Dancing With The Stars" results, before his barely post-pubescent body is buried beneath a mound of bodies of murdered Black men who could have been there to raise their own daughters.

Let's hurry. I am clinging to my consciousness, my awareness that "We Are One." I am fighting to keep my grip on the hope that though We are a fucking idiot...that We can do better...starting in this Moment, the only Moment that matters, the only Moment there is...that We can live as one...that we can be one. We must be.


A note from NMN: I don't know how to proceed. But we can figure it out together. This can be the beginning of a movement-- one not based on any one group getting anything, but on all people of all "groups" giving something...that thing being love. Let's get this One.