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E.M. Monroe

"I knew, not from memory, but from hope, that there were other models by which to live." Weems

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August 2014

Models Monday: Hands Up…Don’t Shoot…Solidarity

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On the Morehouse campus, students from Clark-Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College–collectively representing the Atlanta University Center (AUC)–showed solidarity with citizens/students across the country who walked out of classrooms at 1 p.m. to commemorate the day Michael Brown would never be able to walk into a classroom as he was being lowered into his grave. Classes were not cancelled so these students risked missing lectures, quizzes, attendance, and participation credit to, as one of the conveners repeated, “demonstrate that black and brown bodies matter.” It was good to know that there are young people across the country who are willing to lose something for the sake of a higher purpose. In this case, one student declared that higher purpose to be correcting the popular discourse that suggests black folk need to fix themselves so that tragedies like this don’t happen. She declared that black folk don’t need correcting. She charged that “what needs correcting is a system that routinely kills black men and black women, black boys and black girls,” as the higher purpose.

Changing speakers occurred when the current speaker called out, “hands up” and the audience responded, “don’t shoot.” Using a history and tradition of call-and-response was effectively deployed in the face of neo-police brutality.

No New Models Here…

Michael Brown’s body was not immediately covered and was recorded on video by bystanders. JAMES CLAY, VIA NEWS2SHARE
Michael Brown’s body was not immediately covered and was recorded on video by bystanders.
JAMES CLAY, VIA NEWS2SHARE

The spectacle of the dangling corpse, the charred remains of the body, and the stern signs of warning invariably attracted spectators. Local authorities routinely allowed bodies to remain on display for at least several hours and sometimes for days (43). 

Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930

W. Fitzhugh Brundage

The undignified way the police kept Michael Brown’s corpse on display is a repetition of a particularly American wound…no new models here: 1880-2014.

Last words…

If you have a chance, you should check out Journalist Shirin Barghi twitter drawings featuring the last words spoken by black boys/men killed by police or vigilantes:

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If you have a chance, you should check out Journalist Shirin Barghi twitter drawings featuring the last words spoken by black boys/men killed by police or vigilantes:

 

Six Shots Later…

Part of a preliminary private autopsy report by Dr. Baden and Professor Parcells showing wounds on Mr. Brown’s body. Credit Dr. Michael M. Baden

Another shameful outcome of this country’s “brutal imagination.” 

Models Monday: The Kiss

nigger-autobiography-dick-gregory-paperback-cover-art

It seems that folk no longer read comedian and activist Dick Gregory’s 1964 autobiography Nigger—actually, I don’t remember the Malcolm X t-shirt wearing, Public Enemy listening generation of mine discussing the work either. The 1990s political climate may have informed my decision to seek out this book. The back cover told a profoundly moving story that fueled my curiosity about the many everyday expressions of radicalism, thoughtfulness, historical rootedness, and political acumen that I observed from the folk in my own life. Gregory writes:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night…

Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’

I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’

About that time these three cousins come in, you know the ones I mean, Klu, Kluck, and Klan, and they say: ‘Boy, we’re givin’ you fair warnin.’ Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.’ About then the waitress brought me my chicken. ‘Remember, boy, anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.’ So I put down my knife and fork, and I picked up that chicken, and I kissed it.”

I wonder how those “cousins” looked when they left that restaurant; ready for war, but not for love.

Creativity emerges from the careful cultivation of one’s interior life. In Gregory’s instance, we see how in cultivating a rich interior life and reading the world you live in equips you with the tools to build peace in a world bent on destruction.

 

R.I.P. Michael Brown (“Be Free,” J. Cole)

Models Monday: First Day of First Grade

Most Georgia schools have started today. My son started first grade. His teacher seems like a warm person. My son looked like he was alright when I left; no crying or clinging. The worst thing that happened today actually began when he first enrolled and I saw the required uniform. Here he is in just the summer version:

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Lord help this uniform…and it gets worse. The summer version comes in two designs: the one you see and one that’s predominately orange, a warm-up jacket; and a varsity jacket. The winter version is dreadful: one pair of orange and burgundy Addidas; orange and burgundy socks; khaki trousers, long sleeve shirts in the same orange and burgundy version as the short sleeve version; and one entirely black sweatsuit.

Now, the only way this uniform makes sense is if his school were located in the People’s Republic of China and he had been identified as a future Olympian; otherwise, why would you dress “scholars” as athletes? I have never in my life seen a school uniform that didn’t include an oxford shirt and polo option, a tie, a sweater, a blazer, and dress shoes. I don’t understand how this uniform teaches students anything about appropriate attire with respect to the occasion. In this case, the students are only always ready for a workout.

When I was in elementary school, we were required to have our shirts tucked in at all times, blue and white socks only, boys were required to wear ties, and we all were required to cover our white or blue blouses and shirts with a vest or sweater. In high school we wore saddle shoes (until a later change to brown or black shoes), blue, green, or white socks, a vest, a sweater, and a blazer. You could never be in compliance with the uniform code if your shirt wasn’t covered with a vest, sweater, or blazer and all formal assemblies required blazers. Although my son likes his mini-Virginia Tech style workout gear, I think he would’ve also liked something more traditional.

Hopefully, we’ll be selling our house and buying a new one in the next few years so that he can attend a school where students aren’t driven towards athletics and guided towards other intellectual and professional possibilities. Anyway, I hope his day goes better than the look of that uniform…I’ll let you know.

Models Monday: Still Thinking about Duck & Goose (edited)

The only time I remember books being read to me is when I attended elementary school and I loved it. I also remember my classmates’ enthusiasm when we learned of the weeklong book fair planned for our school as well as those weekly trips to the school’s library. If anyone ever read to me at home, I have no memory of it. I saw people around me reading and was often told to “go and read something.”

Now that I read to my son, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on these stories . Duck and Goose followed by Duck, Duck, Goose, both by Tad Hills, are two that I think about and reference quite often. In fact, I’ve written two (now three) other posts on Hill’s work. The second book is one that I reflect on the most. Duck, Duck, Goose adds a competitive element to the friendship between Duck and Goose. Thistle, the new duck, wants to transform what had been a mostly cooperative relationship into a game of winners and losers.

My favorite part of the book, and the portion that I cite all the time, is when Goose comes to a point where he decides that he has had enough of Thistle’s contests.

Tad Hills. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz and Wade, 2007.
Tad Hills. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz and Wade, 2007.

The top panel shows Thistle creating another one of his contests when Hill writes, “Goose had had enough.” Anytime I’m fed up with the inevitable nonsense that life presents, I say out loud, “Goose has had enough,” which means I’m done with this foolishness and I turn towards my own agenda. If you don’t have a phrase that allows for an escape from this mad, mad, mad, mad world, you can use mine.

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