So We’re At Our Tipping Point, But…What About Tawana Brawley? #saytheirnametoo

I wish it were true; that the waves of white supremacy came crashing down in the weeks before summer 2020. But I know that the coming weeks, months, and years to come will reference this moment to counter pro-black and “separatist” agendas that seek to actualize the change so many pursue hollowly.

In the contemporary moment, I cannot help but think of Gavin Long. Following the brutal murder of Alton Sterling in 2015, Long opened fire on police, and he was killed in his retaliatory acts. Denounced by then-president Barack Obama and the #blacklivesmatter movement, collective amnesia buried Long’s name in the same archive as Nat Turner and other black revolutionaries exasperated with “existing” in a state and space where their murder was inevitable. Unlike the African-adjacent who initiate and enact white violence under the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, Long did not pursue symbolism. His radicalism exposed the reactionary nature of those around him. He was not trying to fit in into cataclysmic society. He forged for a new reality where the agents of anti-blackness faced real consequences for their actions.

The contemporary moment, it’s infiltrated attempts to incite action especially, reflect a systemic attempt to extinguish the Nat Turners and Gavin Longs from rising from the fury of racism, white supremacy. The photos depicting white men as saviors and white women as barricades for black men illuminate the most lethal form of violence I have ever seen. Each Twitter posts delineates blacks as bleeding from a systemic wound that continues to twist a knife in our collective flesh. So while the world sees a global fist against racism, I see the psycho political reality that black lives matter when whites say so. This proves far less significant than the reality that an anti-black ideology continues to make it so that blacks believe in whites, and non-black persons of color, more than they believe in themselves.

When have we ever seen such a global reaction to a living black person engender national calls for “justice?” To resume a point I made on an earlier post, why does it seem like that black lives only matter when the black person is dead?

I bring up this point to elucidate that pursuing advocacy for one who is no longer alive enables black adversaries to essentially pursue what they can not fully manifest. What I mean here is that abused black people become relegated to victimhood due to a physical inability to function as survivors. Additionally, nothing can bring the lost life back, or reverse the resulting trauma—so even the best case scenario fails to alter the intractable devastation of murder.

The praxis of placing a halo over the dead illuminates the “better after death” ideology that began during slavery and continues to permeate the morality of many black people today. Specifically, the praxis exuded here, posits black ability to “change the world,” as George Floyd’s daughter proclaimed, as consummated after death. This translates to, black lives matter most when indistinguishable from the mattered laid on top of them.

To expand this point, I want to consider the case of Tawana Brawley in the late 80s. I bring up this case because Governor Cuomo frequents the news as of late, functioning as a sort of hero. He articulates points that illuminate the political gymnastics, pandering to what inclusion-seeking blacks need to hear all the while refusing to negate his anti-black stance.

Mario Cuomo was the Governor of New York at the time of Brawley’s case, and Andrew Cuomo was Governor when the Brawley family requested to reopen the trial in 2007. Brawley’s incident, like much of the systemic violence covered on the news, also involved numerous cops. Collaboratively, these agents of anti-blackness violated a young girl, called her liar, then doomed her to a life of public exile. Here, was the perfect time for a global uprise. But this meant pursuing a peace that for a black person with breath in their body. This meant confronting the ugliness of American society from the Mayor and the Governor to the President when everything seemed to be going to so well for the people who matter.

Tawana foreshadowed what we as a community saw with Sandra Bland; a black woman lynched for her courage. Brawley, differs from Bland, only because she is made to walk the world with a noose around her neck. Nat Turner and Gavin Long died for the Tawana Brawley’s of the world. The very least we can do as a collective is refuse to forget her. Brawley, in tandem with the plethora of other erased black narratives; the unspoken stories, the buried archives, are what we must remember when the world seduces us to sing kumbaya over their memory.

A world where black female rape by agents of white supremacy constitutes a hoax is not a just space.

So, anyone who isn’t marching for Tawana, anyone who won’t say her name, is just marching in place. As long as our strides toward change remain integrated and shaped by those not African in lineage or mind, the names that author the most complex and intricate components of our narrative remain selectively omitted. So when they #sayhername, we must hone a #saytheirnametoo mentality, and refuse to forget as a collective what our adversaries obliterate as a nation. Therefore, “diverse” participation, as the media calls it, is of absolutely no significance.

What remains significant is that we as a people refuse to drink the spiked Koolaid our oppressors serve us on a psycho political platter. Significantly, we must realize that what we’ve seen over the past week is about whites seeking to eject a man who embarrassed them. A man who poked a hole in everything they spent centuries trying to conceal and present as anomalies. A man who elucidates the cataclysmic potential of what they called democracy. An administration that illuminates democracy as synonymous with hegemony. Their strides are to resume a space of personal and political complacency where the Tawana Brawley’s are raped and exiled, the Emmett Tills are lynched before adulthood, and the Floyd’s are asphyxiated in an ambiance that does not disrupt their systemic advantage. Even the European counties who have seemingly “joined the movement,” do so because they too remain vested in the American dream— a beauty that, for the myopic African-adjacent, Trump makes ugly. Whites have employed blackness as a means to detach themselves from he who mirrors their internal hardware. The African adjacent knows that Trump’s fire will resurrect the Nat Turners and the Gavin Longs. Thus, to build on what I mentioned in a previous post, the contemporary actions reflect a desire to “make America great again.” “Greatness” for the African adjacent mutes black power while seeking to resume a white nationalism veiled by the pseudo liberatory promise of America.

Thus, as our adversaries reach their pseudo tipping point, we must not tip over in their influence.

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