Monthly Archives: September 2011

I AM TROY DAVIS: 007 (Some Say…)

For the next 358 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Perception is everything.  Some people look at me and see hope.  Others look at me and see evil.  Whatever a person sees when looking at me, reflects the true feelings, emotions, experiences, and biases that live inside of them.  If someone is judging you, don’t trip.  It has less to do about you, and more to do with the judge.

You are beautiful.  Believe it.  The scars, mistakes, ‘failures’ make you unique.  What would Frida Kahlo’s artwork look like without her scars?  How could Basquiat pick up a brush if he didn’t know isolation and insecurity? Don’t let another’s opinion of you change anything that makes you who you are.

Judgment is a bad idea, but we all do it.  It’s part of how we learn to survive in this world.  We learn to categorize and analyze things, people, environments, situations instantly in order to keep ourselves protected from perceived danger, disappointment, pain, etc.  Once again, our fears have a lot to do with it.  Try to minimize the amount of time you spend walking around judging people, places, whatever.  It will free your mind for other more important things – like your dreams!

I wrote a piece about a month ago on this topic.  It is called ‘Some Say.’ We performed it at the dead prez show this past August, and we will continue performing it.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

I AM TROY DAVIS: 006 (In need of Love…)

For the next 359 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Knowledge doesn’t come from having books, it comes from reading them.  And when you read them, you have to learn what is written; working with new concepts and ideas, gradually revising, and clarifying your worldview.  Likewise, you can’t just have an experience, or face an obstacle/struggle to gain knowledge – you have to learn from it.

This is the world’s challenge.

Some days I feel like we are some of the dumbest beings on the planet.  It seems that we are the only animal in creation that doesn’t know what to do with ourselves.  Wearing costumes and driving cars we can’t afford, we party all night, and lose sight of our daily goals.  Day after day, we walk around miserable, attempting to hide our pain from each other.

Days pass and we wonder where our time went.  Then, we’re older, and we wonder where our lives went.  I have probably spent more time in my life contemplating past mistakes, than I spend planning my future.   This present moment is the only one that matters, yet I seem to consistently keep it at a distance.

Sometimes I am not even where I am, even if it’s where I need to be.  Ideas and thoughts fog my mind like windshields in the winter.  Fears spin their way into my sacred temple, leaving miles of cobwebs to trod through.  Insecurity and self-doubt are twin-assassins, hitting their target with sniper-like precision.  On days where I can’t seem to find the cruise control button, the slightest bumps on life’s highway can send me reeling like fishermen’s thread.

On other days, I feel stuck in neutral, coasting along at the pace of indifference to everything.  I want to live without indifference, but it feels like my higher frequencies are frequently jammed; so, I stand, pierced by the crackling static of life.

We have GPS, but no sense of direction; fiber optics and satelites, but no communicaiton.  There are more Black people with degrees than ever, but we can’t keep our brother’s out of prison.  Black faces are seen at all levels of the political structure, but we couldn’t stop an innocent man from being executed on September 21, 2011.  The gap between the haves and the have-nots is even wider than that gaping hole consumerism sliced out of the ozone layer in the name of ‘progress.’

And then there’s love: the oasis, the hope, the divine in us all.  I couldn’t receive love until I could see that I was worthy of it’s attention.  It may sound cliché to whoever is still reading, but as the great Stevie Wonder stated, ‘love’s in need of love today.’

We are all hurting in some way.

You just can’t throw money, or diamonds, or new shoes at internalized pain.  Our justifications and rationalizations are empty; our tireless study and scientific advancements are futile, if we refuse to confront our own deepest shortcomings.

Love ain’t a movie script y’all.  It’s a choice.  Without it, we are not living, but rather, experiencing a gradual spiritual death.  Until I could allow my wife’s love to leave me, for the first time, defenseless, I did not know God.

God is love.  And, love is a powerful force that I now believe in deeply.  The depth of my belief determines the depth of my faith.  Our faith lives in the heart.  I am determined to lead, and live, with my heart.

Axé.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

I AM TROY DAVIS: 005 (GOD:complex)

For the next 360 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Two Gods.  They say you can only serve one, right?  But, what about little-bitty-itsy-bitsy-socially-constructed gods – do they count too?  I know what you’re thinking; there is only one God, and that is who I praise/pray to.  Or, maybe you’re thinking there is no God at all?    Are we made in God’s image, or do we create God’s that fit our needs as humans?  It’s all pretty complex at times.

I had a conversation with myself the other day that was very interesting.  See, I believe in God, but my overstanding has changed over the years.  Largely through experiences, reading, and casual late-night conversations, the God that I have come to know can’t really be described.  Language is definitely a limitation.  But, we try, don’t we?

So, there I was, weaving in and out of traffic, on my way home from another 12-hour overnight security shift, having a little talk with myself.  Our car radio died about four months ago (or more), so deep internal dialogues are regular; especially if there is no one else in the car.  Monologues are rare, but they also go down if my spirit needs a serious pep talk.

My internal dialogue went something like this:

Jbro 1: Why are we always bringing God into the picture when things are going well?

Jbro 2:  You ask too many questions.

Jbro 1: What?

Jbro 2: Exactly.

Jbro 1: This is a long ride home man.  You see how crazy traffic is.

Jbro 2: You’ll be home in 20 minutes kid.  Relax.

Jbro 1: Ok, fine.  I won’t think then.

Jbro 2: Good idea.  Highly recommended.

Jbro 1: But, what about God though?

Jbro 2: What was that?  15 seconds?

Jbro 1: So, you have questions too, I see.

Jbro 2: Whatever.  Listen, people make God into their image.  Or, they say God doesn’t exist because they lack a certain spirituality.

Jbro 1: But, they just replace it with something else, right?

Jbro 2:  [A little annoyed] What?

Jbro 1: Instead of following a religion with a specific cosmology, they follow something else.

Jbro 2: True.  I mean, everyone has a religion, whether they admit it, or not.  They believe in something.  They pray to/praise something.

Jbro 1: Like Satan.

Jbro 2: Not real.

Jbro 1: There is no Devil?

Jbro 2: Only God.

Jbro 1: So what is the devil then?

Jbro 2: Fear.

Jbro 1: So, people fear what they cannot comprehend.  And, when they can’t comprehend it, they blame it on the devil.

Jbro 2: Something like that.  When things are good, ‘God blessed me with a gift today.’  When they are bad, ‘the devil made me do it.’

Jbro 1: Word up.  I feel that.  But, what about God?

Jbro 2: God is everything.

Jbro 1: Everything?

Jbro 2: You want to believe in a God that controls everything from the ‘heavens?’

Jbro 1: I just want peace.  Does God want that?

Jbro 2: God does not want.  God is.

Jbro 1: God is what?

Jbro 2: Everything.  God is a force, running through all things.  There are no sides, no separations, no titles; everything is an extension of a larger, unlimited energy.  God does not define.  Humans define.  God is.

Jbro 1: Interesting.  It’s still funny to me though.

Jbro 2:  What’s that?

Jbro 1: Everything, really.  God doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl.  God doesn’t care about politics.  God doesn’t have a specific religion.  Yet and still, we hear God’s name when it’s time to vote, go to war, or hand over a trophy.

Jbro 2: The idea of God is powerful.  This idea has obviously been used for whatever human beings want to use it for.  Far too often, folks justify some of their worst actions in the name of God.  You can’t really do anything in God’s name.  God is.  God doesn’t have to be named.

Jbro 1:  God doesn’t need me to believe, then?

Jbro 2:  You need to believe.  But, God doesn’t need you to believe.  Belief is what dictates your journey.  People used the Bible, and other pseudo-scientific ideas to justify the enslavement of Africans in this country.  Once this idea was repeated enough, Whites believed it to be true.  This belief led to the creation of the empire known as the United States.  Belief is a powerful thing.

Jbro 1:  Whatever you believe, ultimately becomes real?

Jbro 2: Exactly.

Jbro 1: If I believe snakes are evil, than that becomes my reality.  But, that doesn’t make the snake evil.  Snakes are just snakes.

Jbro 2: Snakes do what they were created to do.

Jbro 1: Were humans created to do what we are doing?

Jbro 2: Good question.

Jbro 1: And?

Jbro 2: Human beings, unlike other animals, were given the power to create their reality.  That’s why belief is so important.  Hell is here on earth, not below our feet.  Heaven is always available to us, behind our veils.  We don’t have to wait for death to reach its warmth.  However, our belief-systems are based in fear, so we create a world where real trust, love, intimacy, and community are diminished greatly.  The status quo becomes privacy, ‘security,’ fear, and war.

Jbro 1:  So, I can change my reality by changing my belief-system?

Jbro 2: Exactly.  It’s up to you.

Jbro 1: What about the world?

Jbro 2:  Don’t worry about the world.  Start with yourself.  The answers are there.

Jbro 1: Word.  Thanks self.

Jbro 2: You know how we do.  Don’t think too hard homie.  You already know.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

I AM TROY DAVIS: 004 (Roses for the Living)

For the next 362 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Is life really the b###h, or is it the ego?  I feel like life may be getting a bad rap these days.  But if you ask most, they will probably disagree with me.  In fact, in our male-dominated, M.O.B. (Money Over B###hes) society, a whole lot of folks won’t just disagree, they would straight clown me for even making the statement at all.  The die-hard, thugged-out, hoes and tricks click, might even call me a b###h for even thinking it, let alone saying it!  Real talk.

(If you are part of the aforementioned group, I overstand.  But, if you have about ten free minutes, just humor me for a moment, and continue reading.  If my previous statement, on the other hand, intrigued you in any way at all, then let’s get this discussion underway!)

As human beings, we tend to focus on the problems in our lives when we speak to each other.  How many phone calls do you get from friends complaining about the bills, the kids, their significant other, their job, the heat, the cold, the neighborhood, the list goes on?  Time and time and again, we sit with each other on the phone, at dinner, in the car, on the porch, talking about life: the b###h.

In fact, most of us spend the majority of our lives gossiping, talking bad about our situations, and/or thinking negative thoughts about ourselves and others – to the extremely sharpened point where nothing seems positive, hopeful, or possible.  So, by definition, life becomes a b###h because it’s all we do.  Like pimping, b###hing is a way of life.

All of our negative thinking just becomes a habit that we can’t shake because it’s comfortable – for, as they say, misery loves company.  Well, I guess misery also gets it on with complacency, mediocrity, and stagnancy as well because it’s so much easier to sit and complain, than it is to get up and fix.  It’s incredibly harder to look inside yourself than it is to look at someone else: on the block, on the T.V., at your job, in the express aisle at the supermarket, or in another country.  It’s exceedingly easier to wait on GOD to come and fix something in your life, or in society, than it is to find the GOD within you that was born to live.

Don’t get me wrong.  Please don’t misoverstand me my people.  Living ain’t always easy.  For a whole lot of us, it is very hard.  Especially, when we come from places like New Orleans – where 8th generation residents suddenly became dome-dwelling ‘refugees’ in their own city.  Positivity can be extremely hard to come by when you are sleeping on a cold floor, in a leaky building, next to dead bodies, and thousands of stressed-out strangers.   Physically, over time, we may all grow into adult form, but our spiritual growth can be stunted early in life due to intense psychological trauma of some kind.

Living in these times has given us all some type of trauma.  In fact, I think the modern experience, in particular, can be like a mild form of torture for most.  Perhaps it’s a subtle current, but I don’t think we are coping well with the ways that technology is shaping our mind patterns, and shifting our communication/relationships.  People are logged into social networks, but logged-out of deep human connectivity.  If you think this issue is over-rated, fine.  But, I think it is creating more and more isolation.

Despite all of it, however, I am hopeful.  I wake up everyday, regardless of what is in (or, not in) my bank account, and I look forward to my life’s unfolding.  This is a journey.  Every minute of it will not be pleasant.  Everyday will not be happy.  Every month will not be easy.  But, I hope that I am done complaining.

In fact, I intend to offer suggestions, and ideas for improving our lives in these so-called modern times.  Let’s start here:  you are not alone.  There are others like you.  Don’t give up on life.

If you feel something is missing from your life, be still.  Go fishing inside the deep waters of your soul, and just listen for something inside of you that feels alive.  Once you hear/feel something, pull hard on it, dust it off, and bring it to the surface.  If you have a desire to do something, anything, follow it.  Don’t spend anymore time on the phone, talking about what is wrong.  Find something right in your life, and just praise the heck out of it.  Count your blessings.

Beyond finding something in your life to praise, find someone in your life to praise.  Maybe that someone isn’t your ex-boyfriend, or your mother-in law that can’t seem to keep herself our of your business.  It’s O.K.  Think.  There must be someone that you can thank for something?

Once that person is in your mind, pay them a personal visit, or at least call them, just to say ‘thank you’ for whatever positive role they have played in your life.  I have my person in mind right now.  I could literally write a book about their influence, and importance in my life, but I don’t have time at this moment!

Find your person.  Imagine them receiving love and all the blessings of this world.  See them, in your mind’s eye, showered with light, and basking in its overpowering glow.  Now, make a connection with them.  Let them know how you feel, and what they have done to help you become who you are today.  Be explicit.  Don’t hold back.  Feel the joy of being thankful.

In general, we wait until a funeral to share our true feelings about our loved ones.  We go out of our way to buy extravagant bouquets, and print up R.I.P. t-shirts that fade over time.  But, we rarely, if ever, give roses to the living.  Please don’t wait until the end of someone’s life to express what they truly mean to you.  Do it today.

This entry was inspired by a recent music video that a friend posted on Facebook.  The song is called ‘Roses,’ and it expresses my last 1000 words in musical form.  Thank you for the reminder Smif N’ Wessun.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

I AM TROY DAVIS: 003 (Keeping the Faith)

For the next 363 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Today is my b(earth)day y’all!  34 years ago today, I was born in Pittsburgh, PA on a Sunday at 11:26 pm.  Normally, Ghislaine and I put together some type of party to celebrate, but this year was very low key.  No parties.  No nothing.  Just us two.

Today was definitely set for rest and recuperation.  Last week, I worked more than 72 hours as overnight security for ACL (Austin City Limits).  Last night was another 9 hour shift.  After getting home from the overnight (10:45 pm-8 am), I spent most of my early morning/afternoon in the bed, sleeping.  Around 2:00 pm, I spoke with my parents.  After our brief conversation, I took a nice, long, soothing candlelight bath.  The bath was followed by a wonderful deep-tissue massage by Ghislaine.

Before we knew it, dinner-time was upon us, and we went out for a little Chinese food.  Our dinner conversation centered around what we learned in the last year.  Both of us have done a great deal of internal/personal work since my last born-day, but my most powerful lesson this past year has been that faith lies in your heart.

At our wedding ceremony in February 10, 2007, before making her transition to the realm of ancestors (July 13, 2007), my Grandmother said that FAITH is the “substance of things unseen.”  Those words carry us through to today.  FAITH must be practiced.  The more you have FAITH in something, the more it becomes a part of you.  FAITH, like love, grows the more it is tested.

Today, RAS stands on the verge of something great, something powerful, something transformational.  We are here because we kept the FAITH, against all odds, no matter what our friends, family, or bank accounts told us was possible.  Our music is a reflection of our FAITH in each other, and our FAITH in you.

 
The popular music of today lacks originality, soul and spirit.  The people want more.  We are tired of the pre-packaged, dried-out, synthesized, artistic clones being processed by the machine, and shelved at our local record store/media outlet.  We want truth.

Our world is changing more rapidly than ever.  As technology continues to play a major role in our daily communication with ourselves and others, we must remember to challenge each other to be more than we have ever been before.
We cannot simply retreat to our computer/cellphone/TV screens and hibernate.

Connect with your vision and love.  Nurture that.  Feed it.  Have FAITH that you can accomplish what you put your heart into.  It will be a hard road, but the rewards are mind-blowing!

Our FAITH tells us that everything will be great as long as we remember that we are all connected.  There is no separation.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

I AM TROY DAVIS: 002 (Cop-Killer?)

For the next 364 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’  Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate.  If so, we must connect.  We are already connected.  Axé.

Two words followed Troy Anthony Davis around like a ball-and-chain until his murder by the state of Georgia: COP-KILLER.  This scarlet letter deliberately reiterated by various (independent and mainstream) media outlets to describe a dubiously convicted man will follow him even after he is posthumously exonerated.  And yes, this day will come (sooner than expected).

Historically, these two words, inflammatory when linked together, are directly connected with two others spoken throughout Troy Davis’ 20-year fight for restorative justice: death row.  When uttered in succession, the words cop-killer create an almost immediate negative response, often followed by racially biased mental images of a Black man.

Google the words cop-killer right now, and see what images come up.  The overwhelming majority of images you see will be Black men.  Like the incendiary ‘welfare queen’ term coined by Reagan in the late-70s, this linguistic coupling is intentional.  The intention is damnation.

Socially, it is nearly impossible to reinvent your image, once you have been branded with the cop-killer label.  More permanent than a tattoo, this marker cannot be removed surgically.  With all of her multi-millions of dollars for stylists, make-up artists, and press/public relations, even Madonna (and her ever-changing pop-self), could not dance or sing her way out of a ‘cop-killer’ box.  There is no room inside of this box.  There is no air.  And there certainly is no justice.

So, Death Row becomes your new home.  And you sit.  Even if you are innocent of the alleged crime, your table is set; and the burden of proof becomes an unending mountain you climb daily to prove your worth.  Your tools then become a pen and paper; and the appeals game begins.  Forget Russia, welcome to ‘American Roulette.’  Only in this version, there are three or four bullets in the six-chamber cylinder, magnifying the daily terror you are faced with in your solitude.  In the outside world, the media might as well label you ‘unforgiven,’ or ‘dead to the world’ because this is how you are received by society-at-large.

When rapper ICE-T wrote a song with the same title in 1992, the mainstream public outcry was vehement to say the least.  The mere mention of these words is enough to start a fight in many circles.  But, someone (more specifically a Black man) chose to write a song about it?  And, it was extremely popular amongst young white people?  Oh, no.   Can’t have that.  It’s fine when blacks talk about killing other blacks (on record) and white folks listen – but a cop?  Sorry.  That is just too far, too much, too bold (for White America).

Almost immediately after its release, President Bush (the 1st) held a press conference condemning the song.  Police Organizations from around the nation rallied to form boycotts against Warner Bros.    Death threats were sent to the record label’s executives.  Stockholders threatened to pull out their investments.  Tipper Gore (wife of former Vice President, Al Gore) even compared Ice T to Hitler at one point.  Ultimately, Ice-T pulled the song from the ‘BODY COUNT‘ album.

It’s actually quite ironic that Ice-T started taking on cop roles in film/television to change his social perception as a cop-killing rapper.  Despite the fact that he wrote the song as a ‘protest record’ in response to the Rodney King beating in 1990, he eventually managed to bury the controversy in order to save his career as a performer.  Now, you can you can find him with your remote in weekly episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, or Ice Loves Coco.

To those in positions of power and privilege in our society, the word ‘cop’ is generally synonymous with words like: protection, service, security, etc.  For the rest of those of us that lack the power, privilege, and status of the ruling class, the word cop is most often synonymous with words like: brutality, invasion, terrorism, criminality, and more.

I think the word ‘killer’ pretty much means the same thing to all of us: someone that takes/ends someone else’s life with their own hands.  Even further, I think most of us (regardless of class status) agree that killing is wrong – unless in self-defense.

Many of us have lived through the torture and torment of losing a loved one to violence.  Yet and still, most would likely still have some strong reservations about personally executing an individual – even if they were responsible for the murder of said loved one.  We wouldn’t go through with the act because we know it won’t bring our father, mother, cousin, uncle, whoever, back into our lives.  We wouldn’t do it because we understand, beyond the intellectual level, and on a much deeper spiritual level, the long-term effects of such an action.  The spirit of vengeance is much different than that of justice.

Notice that I say most of us, and not all of us.  I am hyper-aware that there is also a sizeable portion of folks, Black, White, Christian, Muslim, Democrat, Republican, Southerners, Northerners,  or otherwise, in our society that would eagerly hang, shoot, or inject someone that they felt ‘deserved’ it.  Whether connected to the victim or not, there are many who feel murder can be justified.  Finger on the trigger, these individuals surely do not think twice if they can find (and, more often create) even the shakiest of grounds for justification.  Regardless of political, racial, or social affiliation, however, we probably all agree that someone who ends another person’s life is a killer, a murderer, a perpetrator of homicide.

Cop-killer.  What exactly happens in America when these two words are linked together?  Well, from where I sit, ‘all hell’ doesn’t necessarily ‘break loose.’  On the contrary, it simply oozes from behind the facades and illusions that temporarily hid it.  If a cop is killed, justice must be served – and swiftly.  News investigators and cameras quickly swing into action, bringing reports and stories of an officer lost in the ‘call of duty.’   And, if there is a black face at the end of that murder weapon?  Death Row.

In Pennsylvania, where Mumia Abu-Jamal still sits, more than half of death row cases are from Philadelphia, a city with only fourteen percent of the state’s population. Eighty-three percent of those on death row from Philadelphia are of African descent.  Between 1996 and 1998, a group of researchers collected data to determine the connection between race and death row sentencing in Pennsylvania.  The researchers studied a ‘large sample of the murders which were eligible for the death penalty in the state between 1983 and 1993.’ The extensive study found that ‘blacks in Philadelphia were substantially more likely to get the death penalty than other defendants who committed similar murders. Black defendants faced odds of receiving a death sentence that were 3.9 times higher than other similarly situated defendants.’ (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-penalty-black-and-white-who-lives-who-dies-who-decides)

So, if you kill a man in Pennsylvania, and your skin is melanated, you are 3.9 times more likely to be assigned to Death Row.  Now, throw the ‘cop-killer’ label on top of those stats, and you are probably 39 times (my own estimate) more likely to receive the death penalty.  Bottom line: innocent, or not, the odds are stacked heavily against anyone (Black or White) beating the rap.  But, if you are Black you might as well choose your coffin in the courtroom, because it will certainly be nailed shut by the time that jury comes back with its guilty verdict.

Why is the murder of a police officer so offensive to certain sectors of our society?  The answer is simple.  The life of a police officer is placed at a higher value than the life of everyday folk.  There is a clear social hierarchy in place.  Black men are at the bottom of this pyramid.  If you deny this statement, you are lying to yourself.

When a teacher is murdered, the headlines don’t read ‘teacher-killer.’  Furthermore, we don’t see headlines about lawyer-killers, doctor-killers, preacher-killers, rapper-killers, or anything else.  Some would argue that the high-profile attached to murder cases involving members of the Fraternal Order (of Police) is due to the sacrifice they make daily, putting their own lives on the line for the protection of the masses.  But, I challenge this perspective with a prominent example from my own experience.

Cornel Young, Jr. was a Police Officer.  A Black man, raised in Providence, RI: capital city of America’s smallest state.  Known affectionately as ‘Jai’ to those that were close, Cornel trained in the very same Police Academy as one of the men that shot him in cold blood only a block from where I lived on January 28, 2000. He was off-duty, wearing civilian clothes at a local diner when he was violently murdered in an attempt to assist Carlos A. Saraiva and Michael Solitro III, two uniformed officers on the scene.   Both of the officers were white.  Both claimed that they didn’t recognize him when they fired.

I remember the media frenzy that took place following Young’s murder as clear as day.  Providence residents and University students flooded City Hall, demanding justice.  Mayor, and convicted felon, Vincent ‘Buddy’ Cianci, pandered and pled, calling for ‘patience.’   Never once in all of it, did I see a headline that read cop-killer.  A cop was definitely killed, but never once was this term used to describe the two individuals who sent Cornel Young to an early grave. Why?  Because they were Police officers.  Period.  And, officers aren’t judged in the same light as the rest of us.  They are licensed to kill; even when it is one of their own ‘brothers’ who they ‘don’t recognize.’  Both officers were acquitted despite witness testimony, and piles of evidence about procedural violations.

Cornel Young, Jr. was an officer.  But, he was also Black.  What about his mother Leisa and her dream to watch her son grow old with her?  What about his father (also a Providence Police officer)?  His son’s murder caused a series of health problems that put him in  a wheel chair; and his eyes grew distant and vacant with every news story about mis-trial and guiltless officers. Can you imagine having to report to a job with employees that had murdered your only son?

No Death Row for the ‘cop-killing’ Saraiva and Solitro III.  In fact, not even a jail sentence or a fine.  The murderers in this case, did not need to be tracked down, lynched, or hunted publicly as Troy Davis was.  They were right in front of the world – gun smoking – and they got away.  Where is the justice in that?

This is exactly the hypocrisy and double-standard faced daily by dis-enfranchised communities in America, and around the world.  We watch these fraudulent proceedings, and go on with our daily lives, knowing we could be next.  At any time, our lives can be taken, we can be jailed, and hung in a kangaroo court. Even if we wear a badge.

Wicked, right?

Yet, and still, we rise.  We are the people.  We are waking up.  And, we are finding our way out of this matrix.  As singer Lauryn Hill stated so clearly, ‘fantasy is what people want, but reality is what we need.’  Let’s create a reality free of the fantastic belief that resistance is futile.  My generation may not see the liberation of which we dream, sing, and write, but it is coming.

In the name of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, Nina Simone, Malcolm X, Audre Lord, Paul Robeson, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ida B. Wells, Stephen Biko, and Troy Davis, our dreams of freedom shall be written into existence, despite the hell that we currently endure.

My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm.  I AM TROY DAVIS.

RAS ‘LIVE @ RED 7’ album available NOW – FREE!