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Dear Summer, I Think I Saw Sweet Dick Willie

July 24, 2016

 

Dear Summer,

 

It seems like it took forever for your arrival this year, but just how are we supposed to enjoy your visit when you’ve been so volatile? Initially, you rained on nearly every celebration we tried to hold to celebrate your return, now you’ve flashed an attitude and run extremely hot, to ruin the weekends we plan in your honor. It’s as if all of our years together don’t mean a thing. Maybe I’m getting older; perhaps your light was always this scorching, but I don’t remember feeling so stifled in the midnight hours? Could it be that I seemed to enjoy Winter a little too much that you’re treating me this way? I know I seemed to be out and about often in your absence, but you really can’t expect me to sit idly and await your return each year.

 

The last time I remember it being this hot, for this long, Radio Raheem was choked out and Mookie threw a trash can through Sal’s Famous plate glass window. Wait a minute, that was Do the Right Thing, but I do think I saw Sweet Dick Willie pimpin’ through North Philly the other day.

 

Those sweltering days in Bed-Stuy are eerily reminiscent to the feeling bubbling beneath the surface over the last few weeks. The tension is seemingly as tangible as the humidity. We’ve reached yet another crossroad in our community; we’re at the intersection of an actual movement and faux engagement. I know folks on the frontlines, hear the suckas on the sidelines and I’m quite aware of the millions of haters are simply reading the headlines.

 

I don’t think we need to mention conventions of hate and false promises.

 

We have to repair the disconnect in our community; leave our homes and get our boots on the ground to ensure that the sustainability needed to endure the movement is not washed down in a two-cup of Lean. We mourn the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Alva Braziel, decry the shooting of Charles Kinney and no one condones the murder of those police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, but that’s not in the name of Black Lives Matter. You have to understand us Summer, we’ve struggled for so long and cried too many nights under your stars for administrative leave to be the extent of punishment for taking our lives.

 

We’re still hurting over Sandra and Tamir, Mike Brown and Rekia. I saw Eric Garner’s daughter on the news the other day and I cried. I know folks who mention Trayvon’s name a few times a day and we’re still trying to get someone to tell police who killed Asir Brown and Chicago is fighting for survival every day, as gunshots have become the norm on the South Side. There are too many guns on these boulevards of broken dreams, hopelessness and despair. Our children are in pain and self-medicating with new and old drugs. Our aunties and uncles don't condone the way we do things, asking what would Martin do?

 

We are the descendants of those history wants us to forget. Berets and black gloves, Black power and Black love. Color commentary over Bomb Squad beats. The survivors of the crack era and Reaganomics, the bourgeoisie Cliff Huxtable begat and Martin Payne destroyed. We’ve found our way and we stand here. Together.

 

We are all we have Summer. A new generation of Freedom Fighters who learned from our best and now do what we can amidst apathy and aggravation. Leaders born through Social Media with boots on the ground and a new paradigm. But, there are those who can’t see a problem; those who blame the victim, ignoring years of racist policies and policing.

 

On your hottest days, I feel like you Summer. Angry. Sometimes I don’t know who I’m angriest at, them or me. I wonder if I’m doing enough or have I done anything at all? I’m angry at those who’ve ignored the forecasts of the brewing storm or blame those who are lack the resources to escape the eye of the hurricane.

 

We’ve got a long way to go Summer, so maybe you can lighten your gaze a bit and allow us to clear our minds and continue our fight towards freedom. I often wonder what Watts felt like in ’65. Or Detroit and Newark in ’67.

 

The temperature has lived around 100 degrees, but the streets are running hotter; the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening and those All Lives folks are trying to shout down the voices of the people. In this oppressive heat, a powder keg of oppressed people may explode and maybe this time the damage outside of our communities will be more than collateral. I’m not a spokesman or clairvoyant Summer, I’m just writing you in hopes you’ll loosen your grip on us for a few weeks and allow the time to recalculate our anger and fears.

 

Then again, that wasn’t Sweet Dick Willie I saw the other day, but that doesn’t change the temperature in our souls.

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