For the next 356 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.
On Monday night, I was pacing around our house, trying to process this whole Occupy Wall Street movement. After hours of reading posts, watching videos, and viewing photos online, I felt the need to reach out to some of my peoples in NYC. I called several folks, but only got in touch with their voicemails. You know how it is, folks don’t pick up their phones these days. Fortunately, however, our brother Rod Starz did.
For those that don’t know, Rod Starz is one-half of the revolutionary hip hop duo, Rebel Diaz. Please get familiar with them. These folks don’t just rap about change, they get out there and make it happen. As the founders of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, they have transformed an old South Bronx factory space into a radical, hip hop community center.
I met Rod and his brother G-1 for the first time in 2010. Tiger and I had just moved to Austin, and the Rebel Diaz crew was in town for SXSW (South by Southwest): a huge, annual, international music festival. Davey D and others were holding a workshop/discussion at the Resistencia Bookstore. I was blessed with the free time to stop by, and kick it for a minute, so I did. Since meeting in 2010, we have had a chance to build only one other time in-person, but we remain connected.
Rod didn’t have much time to speak, but he did break down his experience at the NYC Occupy Wall Street event(s) on September 28th. As expected, he described a large cultural disconnect between the original (predominantly white, privileged) initiators of the protests, and the growing number number of (historically disenfranchised, oppressed) Black and Brown folks coming in to observe/participate.
We also talked about the deep-rooted historical/cultural implications of the language of ‘occupation’ employed by the growing social movement. Both of us were feeling like the word ‘occupy’ had to go for several reasons, but mainly, because it is repeating the same language used to dominate other (Black and Brown) nations. Palestine is occupied. Iraq is occupied. Shit, the East Side of Austin is occupied. Colonialism lives on. The language we use to describe our situation is critical to our liberation from it.
We spoke for a few more minutes about next steps. Rod explained that they would be back for sure. After our conversation, I realized that I still hadn’t really spoken with folks in Austin about Occupy Wall Street at all. Aside from a quick conversation with two friends at a diner on Saturday, the only person living in Austin that I had spoken with was my wife. This realization led me to make some other phone calls the next night. And, these phone calls led to a larger group discussion.
My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm. I AM TROY DAVIS.