Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Real Sick


I reached out for some good thoughts from the Facebook Community and got some 85 folks sending me love, with a large majority telling me with “tough love” to GO SEE A DOCTOR!
I’m not averse to it, but it’s not an easy thing to figure out here. So started the day with my host taking me to his dentist to bond my tooth back in and she was so lovely and gentle and touching my face in such a healing way and accomplished it all after about 45 minutes for far under $100. Then on to the mall to get a sweater (had forgotten it’s WINTER in South America), some more Advil and Hall’s cough drops, to the bookstore since I spent so much time in Morocco reading I had run out and to lunch. No cough all morning, still slight sense of fever by lunchtime.

Then walked to the workshop venue and that was feeling good and got into the room and went straight to the piano to play, with my host UirĂ¡ accompanying on drums and that felt REALLY GOOD. Started envisioning the workshop and suddenly the feeling, “This is going to work. It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be more than all right.”

Back to the hotel, a quiet afternoon reading, short nap, preparing the workshop and then looked up a few things online and ended up watching some of the recent Daily Shows. And that’s when I found out about Philando Castile.

When I talk about the key stories that reveal the deep, deep sickness of my country, I usually go to Emmett Till. Not only the brutal story of the murder, but how the murderers, of course, were acquitted and even later made $5000 selling their story to LIFE magazine boasting about how, of course, they did it.

If something clearly transgressive of human decency and justice happens, that’s already a symptom of some sickness in the society. But how the society reacts is equally, if not more, important. Had Emmett’s murderers been given their just desserts, it would have changed the story just a little. Not for poor Emmet. But it would have sent a message that our system of justice does not condone this and that might have helped in future incidents.

But the policeman who shot Philando Castile, clearly without cause, captured on video, was acquitted yesterday. The NRA, that shouts and rants about a citizen’s right to own guns, said not a word about Philando’s legally registered gun that he told the officer was in the glove department. And as Trevor Noah revealed yet again (who could not know this in America?!), the fact that this revered citizen had been stopped 49 times for the crime of “driving while black” is still just casually accepted. Trevor himself has been stopped some 8 to 10 time in just the 5 years he’s been here, Miles Davis was stopped time and time again, never heard a statistic about Obama before he became President, but that would be interesting to investigate.

So tomorrow I do my tiny part to spread the absolute joy and beauty of the black experience as it was created in this thing called jazz and will talk as I always do, about the grief and suffering that privileged white folks simply can’t or won’t face and how nothing, absolutely nothing, will change until they do and how my grandson Malik has 14 years before he gets a driver’s license and my stepson Alijah and son-in-law Ronnie are already targeted and what will it take? 85 people send their love on Facebook because they know how devastating sickness is, but when are we going to say out loud what a sick, sick culture we’ve been handed and we are all of us, each and every one, being devastated by it day after day after day after day. And black folks are on the front line of the devastation just for driving their car, with no script for the proper conduct that the police will acknowledge. They are just the wrong color in a country that loves their music and reads their books and sees their movies and cheers them on at games but gets stonily silent when the police murdering them are let go. Every. Damn. Time. 

On behalf of Philando Castile and Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and that long, long, long list that just keeps growing, let’s keep on working. Police accountability, personal love, teach your children well, throw the bastards out of Washington who put themselves above the law and all their rich white cronies, the whole 99 yards. I wonder if there’s a movement to send one million condolences to the family of Mr. Castile. I hope so.

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