“The ‘Colored’ or Negro Press” by Marcus Garvey (applicable to Black Social Media and WSHH))

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.” — Malcolm X

I recently had a discussion on social media concerning the ongoing buffoonery on social media.  Whether it be the likes of “Tommy Sotomayor” and his anti-Black woman ilk or the “misogynoir” (anti-Black man) crowd or even the anti-Black World Star Hip Hop (WSHH), social media largely mirrors the “Negro Press” of the 1920s.  Marcus Garvey, seeing this, developed “The Negro World” to counteract it.  He informs us as to what needs to be done today.

The Colored Or Negro Press
By Marcus Garvey

The “Colored” or Negro press is the most venal, ignorant and corrupt of our time. This is a broad statement to make against an entire institution, and one so essential to the educational and corporate life of a people; but to be honest and to undeceive the Negro, whom I love above all God’s creatures, the truth must be told. I make and again emphasize the statement without any regard for friendship, and with the full knowledge that the said false, vicious and venal press will unmercifully crticise me for telling the truth to the unfortunate of my race.

Unfortunately, the “Colored” or Negro press of today falls into the hands of unprincipled, unscrupulous and characterless individuals whose highest aims are to enrich themselves and to find political berths for themselves and their friends, or rather, confederates.

The white press of today has its element of venality and corruption, but the higher ethics of the profession are generally observed and maintained, and at no time will find the influence of white journalism used to debase or humiliate its race, but always to promote the highest ideals and protect the integrity of the white people everywhere.

The Negro press, to the contrary, has no constructive policy nor ideal. You may purchase its policy and destroy or kill any professed ideal if you would make the offer in cash.

Negro newspapers will publish the gravest falsehoods without making any effort to first find out the authenticity; they publish the worst crimes and libels against the race, if it pays in circulation or advertisements. A fair example of the criminality of the Negro press against the race is reflected through the most widely circulated sensational publications, namely, “The Chicago Defender” of Chicago, and “The Afro-American” of Baltimore. These newspapers lead all others in their feature of crime, false news and libels against the race.

The primary motive of Negro newspaper promoters is to make quick and easy money. Several of such promoters are alleged to have made large fortunes through their publications, especially through corrupt politics and bad advertisements that should have been refused in respect for the race.

It is plain to see, and is well known, that the sole and only purpose of these promoters is to make money – with absolutely no race pride or effort to help the race toward a proper moral, cultural and educational growth, that would place the race in the category so much desired by the masses and those honest leaders and reformers who have been laboring for the higher development of the people.

To attempt reform or the higher leadership that would permanently benefit the race, is to court the most vicious and cowardly attack from the promoters of Negro newspapers. If you are not in a “ring” with them to support their newspapers of “split” with them, what they would term the “spoils” then you become marked for their crucifixion. All the Negro leaders or organizations that escape the merciless criticism and condemnation of the Negro press are those who stoop to “feed” their graft or who as fellows of the same fold, “scratch each other’s backs.” To be honest and upright is to bring down upon your head the heavy hammer of condemnation, as such an attitude would “spoil” the game of the “gang” to enrich itself off the ignorance of the masses, who are generally led by these newspapers, their editors and friends.

When I arrived in this country in 1916, I discovered that the Negro press had no constructive policy. The news published were all of the kind that reflected the worst of the race’s character in murder, adultery, robbery, etc. These crimes were announced in the papers on front pages by glaring and catchy headlines; other features played up by the papers were dancing and parlor socials of questionable intent, and long columns of what is generally called “social” or “society” news of “Mrs Mary Jones entertained at lunch last evening Mr So and So” and evening at their elaborate apartment Miss Minnie Baker after she met a party of friends.” Miss Minnie Baker probably was some Octoroon of questionable morals, but made a fuss of because of her “color,” and thus runs the kind of materials that made up the average Negro newspaper until the Negro World arrived on the scene.

“The Chicago Defender,” that has become my archenemy in the newspaper field, is so, because in 1918-1919 I started the “Negro World” to preserve the term Negro to the race as against the desperate desire of other newspapermen to substitute the term “colored” for the race. Nearly all the newspapers of the race had entered into a conspiracy to taboo the term “Negro” and popularize the term “colored” as the proper race term. To augment this they also fostered the propaganda of bleaching out skins to light complexions, and straightening out kinky or curly hair to meet the “standard” of the new “society” that was being promoted. I severely criticized “The Chicago Defender” for publishing humiliating and vicious advertisements against the pride and integrity of the race. At that time the “Defender” was publishing full page advertisements about “bleaching the skin” and “straightening the hair.” One of these advertisements was from the Plough Manufacturing Company of Tennessee made up as follows:

“There are many degrading exhortations to the race to change its black complexion as an entrant to society. There were pictures of two women, one black and the other very bright and under the picture of the black woman appeared these words: ‘Lighten your black skin,’ indicating perfection to be reached by bleaching white like the light woman. There were other advertisements such as ‘Bleach your dark skin,’ ‘take the black out of your face,’ ‘If you want to be in society lighten your black skin,’ ‘Have a light complexion and be in society,’ ‘Light skin beauty over night,’ ‘Amazing bleach works under skin.’ ‘The only harmless way to bleach the skin white,’ ‘The most wonderful skin whitener,’ ‘Straighten your kinky hair,’ ‘Take the kink out of your hair in five days,’ etc. These advertisements could also be found in any of the Negro papers published all over the country influencing the poor, unthinking masses to be dissatisfied with their race and color, and to ‘aspire’ to look white so as to be in society. I attacked this vicious propaganda, and brought down upon my head the damnation of the ‘leaders’ who sought to make a new race and a monkey out of the Negro.”

“The Negro World” has rendered a wonderful service to Negro journalism in the United States. It has gradually changed the tone and make-up of some of the papers, and where in 1914-1915 there was no tendency to notice matters of great importance, today several of the papers are publishing international news and writing intelligent editorials on pertinent subjects. It has been a long and costly fight to bring this about.

I do hope that the statements of truth I have made will further help to bring about a reorganization of the Negro press. I fully realize that very little can be achieved by way of improvement for the race when its press is controlled by crafty and unscrupulous persons who have no pride or love of race,

We need crusaders in journalism who will not seek to enrich themselves off the crimes and ignorance of our race, but men and women who will risk everything for the promotion of racial pride, self respect, love and integrity. The mistake the race is making is to accept and believe that our unprincipled newspaper editors and publishers are our leaders, some of them are our biggest crooks and defamers.

Situated as we are, in a civilization of prejudice and contempt, it is not for us to inspire and advertise the vices of our people, but, by proper leadership, to form characters that would reflect the highest credit upon us and win the highest opinion of an observant and critical world.

Short Story: Does my Black Life Matter? (4/4)

Continued from part 3

When Latifah heard of another local killing of a Black youth, she, BLM and the NAACP scrambled. The media had claimed Mawuli was a radical Black militant who killed a policeman in the streets; several Black paid witnesses verified the untrue story. The NAACP refused to rally behind Mawuli and BLM nearly did as well, but Latifah had recognized Mawuli from Nora Canton’s memorial and she convinced her chapter to rally anyway; after all white people shot and killed police but were usually taken in alive.

At the memorial, none other than undercover Omowale and his crew showed up. The unknown killer feigned his revolutionary act once more, harrassing the same Reverend, who, as would be revealed in twenty-years, was also on the police payroll. “Sir,” repeated Reverend Hall, “this is a memorial site. Must you make that noise here of all places?”

“We need action, not prayers.” Omowale’s repetition reminded Latifah about his former audacity. She walked over to him. “Peace Sister,” he greeted.

“Come outside, I want to ask you something.” They exited. She continued, “Didn’t you know Mawuli?”

“Only briefly.”

“How briefly?”

“Is this an interrogation? Are you a cop or something?” Omowale ironically asked.

“No,” Latifah said truthfully, “I just figured you’d recognize him. Do you know what group he could have been a part of? The media is saying he was a radical militant. Did he say anything?”

Just then another Sister interrupted. “Omowale there you are!” shouted Ife, dressed entirely in white, the color of grief. She also wore her hair in its natural state. Mawuli had confided a preference to it.

“Peace Sister.”

“Are you here for Mawuli too?”

“Of course.”

“They were calling us radicals,” Ife admitted in earshot of Latifah.

“I doubt they meant us,” Omowale explained. “You know crackers lie.”

“So you don’t think he killed a cop?”

“I don’t know. But if he did it had nothing to do with us.”

“They said the killing happened the same day as the meeting.”

“Let’s talk about this another time. We have a guest. You never know who is a fed.”

“Latifah? She ain’t no police. We’re friends. I’d know if she were police.”

“By the time the fools learn how the game is played; the players have dispersed,” Omowale quipped.

After a brief silence, Ife asked, “What we going to do about this?”

“What we always do.”

“But we can’t let the police take one of ours.”

“Mawuli wasn’t one of ours.”

“Didn’t he return?”

“Nope.”

“But he told me he would. He assured me.”

“I didn’t see him. Maybe he was a fake. Without a community, you never know whose who. It’s sometimes the one’s most down for the struggle who are most down with the enemy.”

With that Ife turned away from Omowale. “Maybe,” she cried. She wouldn’t say she loved Mawuli, yet she knew she could have loved him eventually. She felt something was amidst in Omowale’s interpretation of events; she was certain Mawuli headed back to the meeting. Or was Mawuli lying about everything?

Latifah consoled her. She could see Ife had something for Mawuli and she felt Omowale was not saying something, but what was unsaid she would never know in her lifetime. “Do you see what violence does?” She looked intently at Omowale.

“The cracker is violent with us. We’re not the initiators.” Omowale effortlessly continued his charade: easily ranking among other public race traitors like Charles Barron, Al Sharpton, Reverand Daughtry and Jessie Jackson, to name a few.

Latifah told Ife to head inside with her and gave Omowale one last piece of advice, “Just don’t get killed.”

To which Omowale responded, very assuredly, once again, “I’ll kill before that happens.”

So impressed was a young man with Omowale’s demeanor and vision, that he received a card from Omowale with instructions on where to order “a roti with no chickpeas”–at a different address from where Ife worked.

Within a month, that same impressed youth would be in a jail awaiting trial for the attempted murder of a white man. Omowale remains at large.

Short Story: Does My Black Life Matter? (3/4)

Continued from part 2

It was a private home with a sign in front stating the front door was inoperable. Mawuli was ten minutes early, yet preferred earliness over walking around a residential area. He knocked on the back door and was let in by Omowale. “Rehema told me you passed.” Mawuli thought about Rehema and thought to ask whether Rehema was in attendance. She greeted him before he had the chance and told him to have a seat. Mawuli noticed the cashier lady and, though preferring Rehema, accepted her invitation to sit beside her. Looking around the room, he noticed 23 people. And though it was early, Omowale said “We expect one more” and one minute to the appointed time, the last guest arrived. “We can begin,” announced Omowale.

Mawuli studied everyone. Complexions and countenances ranged the gamut. Yet he had to question if anyone was really Black–as he never knew a Black meeting to start on time. Needless to say, everyone was very African and, to him, ‘ready for revolution.’ Omowale began with an introduction as Rehema went around offering seeded grapes and water to the guests. “My name is Omowale,” he began, “and I’m a warrior.” A few people laughed. They either heard Omowale say this before or they, like Mawuli, thought of the Alcoholics Anonymous introduction. Omowale continued, “Now I want everyone in this room to make it clear whether they are Warriors or Worriers.” One of the men Mawuli met at the store teased, “Explain the difference,” to which Omowale explained, “A Warrior is for war; but a Worrier, well if you that then I’ll be worried!” The veterans laughed.

One by one, twenty-three people repeated their names and that they were ‘Warriors.’ It was discovered in this process that of the twenty-four, fourteen were as new as Mawuli. Noteably, twelve of those fourteen were men. Interestingly, of the ten veterans, half were men; making a total of 17 men and 7 women. Mawuli, ever playing with numbers, partly wished to consider a social implication; however, ever the single-type, he also wondered what odds he had with the two women he had his eyes on.

He took a lapse in Omowale’s introduction to compliment the cashier beside him. “Ife is a beautiful name.”

She responded, “I thought so too.” She observed that Mawuli was confused. “It’s not my government.”

As Mawuli tried to wrap his head around her response, Omowale interrupted, “Brother, what are you here for?” Mawuli sat back, and Omowale continued talking. He spoke about the conditions of Africans in America, the lack of resources, the need for land, the broken economic structure and the police state we are under. He then pulled a police-issue glock from his backpocket and cocked it. “It’s time we fight back! Who is ready?”

All eyes were at attention when one man, a newcomer, said, “Can’t we just build up our economic base?”

A veteran shouted out to Omowale, “didn’t you ask for the Worriers to come out?”

“I thought I did. Seems some people are only ‘Warriors’ when they don’t need to kill.”

“There’s more than one way to bring war,” offered the worrier.

“Yeah? You got that from the cracker?”

“No, from history,” the worrier rebutted.

“Did this fool say ‘his story?'” asked the same veteran. “Did he say he got that from the cracker’s story? Or was there another ‘his’ he didn’t mention?” People laughed.

“No, ‘history.'” repeated the worrier.

Omowale dismissed, “Yeah worrier’s history,” then asked, “Does anyone else feel like this so-called man?” Another two men raised their hands. “Cowards! The three of you get out right now.” As they rose, Omowale said, “Ladies, look, there are the ‘Black men’ of today. Your so-called protectors. They would not kill for you; yet even low-life crackers will kill for their women. These are the men who claim manhood and what kind of men are they? Cowards!” The three men retreated their separate ways, however Mawuli stayed seated. Though things moved quickly, he, like many other Black men, feel waiting around to be fruitless. Ife bumped her knee on his, she had liked his bravery.

“You who stayed,” continued Omowale, “are men! But not just men of words; but men of action!” With that Omowale nodded to Rehema, “Sister, if you would take the sisters into the next room, we men need to discuss things.” Rehema requested all the women to rise and head to the back porch. As they did so Mawuli’s eyes followed them; especially Ife: he had never seen her from the back and now seizing the opportunity he was very glad he did.

When the women were out Omowale congratulated the remaining men for their bravery. “You have distinguished yourselves. However, ‘Boasting at home is not valor; parade is not battle; when war comes the brave will be known.’ To stand your ground in front of the women was commendable. However, we’re men and we must do ‘men’ things. I’ll give you guys five hours to think seriously about what your next course of action will be. Return here at 10 PM if you are truly about war. If you don’t return, no harm done. But look around newcomers. I do not expect to see all nine of you in five hours. I expect to see these four Brothers, but not all nine of you. And when I don’t see you again, don’t let me ever see you again!”

The group was dismissed and Mawuli looked around as though he was curious to discover where the women were. Omowale detected Mawuli’s predation and explained to him, “Consider deeply what is expected of you. You understand what’s going on right?”

“Of course,” reacted Mawuli. He had already made up his mind to return in five hours. He wondered if the other eight brothers intended to as well. There was only one way to find out.

To kill time, Mawuli hopped on a bus and returned to the vegan shop. He asked the owner about what was going down at 10 PM, but the owner responded that he had no idea. It appears as though he only allowed the revolutionaries to use his space because of Ife, yet he wasn’t himself organized with the group. Mawuli ordered falaffels and fries and purchased a bottle of water. The food filled him and Mawuli thanked the owner. He inquired about Ife and was informed that she should be coming in shortly so he took out his copy of “The Isis Papers” by Frances Cress Welsing and read his fill before she arrived.

She had to work, but Mawuli had to speak to her, so he ordered a smoothie and told her his opinion of Omowale. “He’s a real man,” he said.

“Yeah,” she smiled. She followed with, “I’m sure you are too.”

They conversed for a while. It was short but lively. Ife admitted that many men never return after their first meeting but she can sense an intensity and genuiness in Mawuli that she is sure he will become a veteran like her. Mawuli assured her that he would be committed to the organization; and her. Eventually, Mawuli looked at the time. “I’d love to see you again, but I have to go: we have a meeting,” he blabbed. Ife was noteably prettier since the revolutionary meeting; almost as if her straightened hair didn’t mean a thing. “Should I come here every day or should I call you?”

“You can do both.” With her number in his phone, Mawuli headed back to the meeting spot. It was time to do ‘men’ things. Or at least find out what was meant by it.

It was 9:41 when Mawuli showed to the spot. Omowale remarked how he didn’t expect any newcomers to show, yet two other Brothers were already in. The group talked amongst themselves as two more Brothers showed. When the clock struck ten, Omowale raised his fist and said “It’s ten o’clock.” The room fell silent. “Five out of nine is not bad. Does anyone know what we going to do?”

The five men looked around. Omowale continued, pulling out his gun again, “We going to kill a cracker.” The men smiled and cheered. None were sure what Omowale had in mind, but it was too late to back down or ask questions. This was all new to them. Whether they were to assassinate someone or attack a random hillbilly was unclear. Then Omowale told two of the veterans “Get him,” and things were becoming clearer.

In short time, a heavily-bruised, tied-up, mouth-gagged and blind-folded white man was forced into the room with the newcomers. He put up very little resistance and his whole demeanor was that of one who was a broken man. Another veteran went to each newcomer and handed him a pistol. Omowale explained what was to go on, “When crackers want to execute someone, they have many gunners but only one gun with a bullet. This way, no one can say who was the executioner–cause no one knows whose gun killed the bastard.” Hearing this, the cracker squirmed much but he was easily restrained by the two other brothers, “Of the five of you, only one of you has a gun with a bullet. This cracker needs to die. To prove yourself as a revolutionary, you going to have to shoot your gun at this cracker. We’ll see the smoke. And if one of you punks out, there’s a chance this cracker will live. So now is the time for you all to make your stand.” The veterans restraining the cracker pulled off his blindfold and his mouth gag.

“Please, don’t! I’ve a kid, I’ve a family. Please,” the cracker remonstrated.

“Ready,” Omowale shouted. “Aim,” he demanded. Four of the newcomers aimed. “Aim!” repeated Omowale. All five had their pistols facing the cracker.

“Oh, no, please, this does not need to happen!”

“3 . . .”, the cracker squirmed, “2 . . . ” the cracker remonstrated and plead, “1 . . . .” It was too late to turn back. “Fire!”

Five gun shots and billows of smoke filled the air. Behind the smoke Mawuli noticed the cracker untying himself from the ropes; he also noticed blue paint on his hand from the gun. “Freeze, Police!” said the cracker holding a badge and a gun.

Omowale pointed his gun and badge at the would-be executioners, “Hands in the air!,” he urged. The four other veterans also pulled out. Eight confused hands flew to the sky, half of them were blue from the paint. Mawuli wasn’t as hopeless. He understood the gifted weapon was a fake, but his motto was “ABC–always be carrying.” Mawuli took his nine from his backpocket and slayed the cracker. He then pointed his gun at Omowale: the bastard who was betraying his race. The two of them shot a few rounds at each other’s torso; Omowale, however, was wearing the vest.

Short Story: Does my Black Life Matter (2/4)

Continued from part 1

Omowale had told Mawuli to be at an address at a certain time, Mawuli was twenty minutes early. It was cold outside, but he didn’t want to wait in the store for twenty minutes. Instead he surveyed the area. It was your typical Black neighborhood: a bodega, a chinese shop, a Trinidadian roti spot, a dominican hair salon, three small churches, a pawn shop, a liquor store, a fried chicken spot, a check cashing place, several police lamps and cameras, and, to Mawuli’s delight, a vegan shop–the vegan shop was where Mawuli needed to be. Of note was the uniformed overseers standing in front of the chinese shop, and the melanated men and women frequenting everywhere we didn’t own. Mawuli thought of Malcolm X’s explanation of Black Nationalism and how we disempower ourselves by empowering others; but tried not to get lost in his thoughts.

When five minutes were left, he headed into the Vegan shop. There were two people ahead of him; five people seated; two cameras in the store. The store owner was a medium-brown Black man with grey locs and a rastafarian hat. The cashier was a cute dark Black woman with unnatural reddish hair. Mawuli looked at her curiously; she was very pretty and thoughts of flirting came to mind–though he didn’t care for her straightened hair.

When it was only one person ahead of him, he reached for the card in his pocket. He thought to himself, he’d be in trouble if Omowale was messing with him. He looked again at the card. It was blue like a regular ‘massa’ card; but it had no black strip to swipe with and no logo to suggest it was a credit card. It was a poor forgery and it would reflect poorly on him to this pretty Sister if she figured he was playing a joke.

“How may I help you?” she politely asked.

“I’d like a green smoothie with extra ice.”

“Extra ice? We don’t put ice in our green smoothies sir.”

Oh no, thought Mawuli. The manager looked over to the counter. “Well, I’d like a green smoothie with extra ice.” Mawuli put the blue card on the table and the woman raised her eyebrow. She held up the card to the light and looked at Mawuli like he was an idiot. As she called the store owner over, Mawuli said, “Nevermind, my mistake,” and started to walk to the door. The store owner insisted that Mawuli sit down and Mawuli’s curiosity got the better of him. He sat and waited to see what was going on.

The store owner and the pretty Sister spoke at length on the forgery, then told Mawuli to wait there at a wooden table. The next guest was served, then finally another beautiful dark Sister approached Mawuli. “Mawuli?” she asked. “Omowale sent me to interview you.” Initially angry, Mawuli calmed down in the presence of this ebony Queen. Her head was wrapped in a purple and gold pattern, and her lips were dark, plump and enticing. “My name is Rehema and I understand you are interested in transforming our Nation.” She had a very positive introduction; but Mawuli was so mesmerized, it wouldn’t matter how she introduced herself–she was stunning. Black and Beautiful.

The store owner and Rehema led Mawuli into a backroom. The owner patted Mawuli’s back and smiled, letting him know that the cashier and he were joking with him. Then Rehema, Mawuli and two large men sat in the quiet room and talked revolution. Mawuli was asked about his education, formal and informal. Mawuli shared an extensive reading list: Chancellor Williams, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Amos Wilson and, to the author’s surprise (and delight), Onitaset Kumat, to name a few. He then shared his ideas concerning an African Utopia and listened intently to Rehema’s vision. Finally, he suggested that his activism had been slowed since he had broken it up with his ex-. To the men in the room it was obvious he wanted Rehema to explain her relationship status–perhaps it was obvious to Rehema as well–but Rehema only put her hand on his shoulder and this made the other men hide a laugh with one another.

With the completion of the conversation, Rehema explained to Mawuli that he could attend the actual meeting. She gave him the time and address and told him how to leave the shop. Mawuli thanked her for her time, acknowledged the two Brothers, and returned to the front of the store.

“Still want your smoothie?” asked the cute cashier. She then smiled and winked at Mawuli. Couldn’t no one be mad at her face. Mawuli made a mental note to return to the store. Then he went off clicking his heels. By serendipity he fell upon some legit revolutionaries.

To be Continued (5/19)

Short Story: Does my Black Life Matter? (1/4)

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“You must not mistake lip-service and noise for bravery and service.” — Marcus Garvey

There is a social movement in America popularly referred to as “Black Lives Matter.”  It’s a new name on much the same old.  Originally little more than a phrase at the end of a ‘tweet,’ it now has name recognition as far as staged American elections.  As such, you can expect to see BLM where you expect to see the NAACP: around Black death.

Does my Black Life Matter?
By Onitaset Kumat

“Does my Black Life Matter?  Does my Black Life Matter?,” repeated Nora Canton’s brother, Kevin.  Nora Canton had been gunned down four nights before by a white policeman as she was on her way home from a party.  Kevin had himself been shot by a white policeman two years earlier.  He cried as the community stood around candles and a framed photo and made claims to assisting his family but he heard them two years earlier and losing his support, he seriously questioned the value of his life.  Yelling and tearful, a few people from Black Lives Matter and the NAACP came over to quiet him while appearing to console; their guest speaker, to his sister’s memorial site, had just received the mic and the message promised to be more substantive and emotional than Kevin’s.

Reverend Hall waited for the crowd, and Kevin, to hush, before enunciating, “Black Lives Matter!  Even yours,” he nodded toward the surrounded Kevin.  The gathered crowd gave a long applause amid several “Praise Jesus,” from Nora and Kevin’s grieving mother.  The reverend continued, “We are a strong people, for only a strong people are beaten down without giving up.  After all, had not Jesus been beaten down?  And had Jesus given up?”  Mrs. Canton shouted “Praise Jesus” while raising her napkin.  Nora was the second child she lost.  She only had Kevin and Michelle left.  She had been wearing all black for five years now.  Both Nora and Timothy had been slain by officers; and Timothy as well as Kevin had been publicly vilified as their shooters were excused; yet Mrs. Canton kept her hope alive.  Between chanting “Praise Jesus” and “Black Lives Matter,” Mrs. Canton was grieving or praying.  Reverend Hall kept his speech going in its allotted time, until an audience member had enough.

“Reverend Hall?  More like Reverend ‘Hoop and Holler!'”  Onlookers stared at the handsome man bedecked in the pan-African colors.  Omowale, as he was called, ignored their glares.  “Every time something happens, you come from up high to talk some bull–pardon my language–and ain’t nothing changing.  You are too much about reaction and not enough about action.  That’s why we can’t roll with you.”

“Sir,” Reverend Hall interrupted, “this is a memorial site.  We can have our conversation, but you must have some respect.”

“Like you?” rebutted Omowale.    “A Sister was slain by a–let’s be honest–cracker.  You think if one of us killed a cracker bitch–just calling the real bitch a bitch–that crackers would sit around talking ‘pray’ and ‘what would jesus do?’ or ‘it’s strength that gets us beat down?’; if Black Lives Matter then how we going to sit by and let a Sister die?  We need to take action.  That’s what I’m about.  Eye for an eye!”

Just then an organizer stepped to the stage.  She had long braids, wore a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt and an interesting shade of lipstick.  “‘Brother,'” she air-quoted, “did you organize this?  No?  So you need to stop.  This is not a public forum.  This a restaurant and we paying for this time.  So unless you looking to put something significant in a donation box somewhere, you need to go outside.  Thank you!”

Omowale and three others, two men and a woman, got up and left.  The organizer returned the mic to Reverend Hall who promptly said “Thanks Latifah,” as he continued his speech.  Kevin and his mother had to stay.  However Latifah and two BLM women went outside to confront Omowale.  Expecting a quarrel, Mawuli and others rose and followed the ladies.

“You ain’t giving a donation?” accosted Latifah.  To which Omowale laughed.  He pulled out a fifty and told Latifah to keep the change.  She hid her delight.  “You can apologize,” she continued.  “I apologize” said Omowale.  He then stood there with his hands folded.  He was remarkably well-mannered and well-disciplined; the confrontation didn’t look good for Latifah in the least.  What’s more, he was much too handsome for Latifah to really be angry at him.  In another life, she would be more than happy to have his arms around her as they laid in his bed.  Latifah was visibly day-dreaming, so Omowale put his finger up to burst an imaginary bubble, “We done?” he asked.  And Latifah asked him honestly with less confrontation in her voice, “What did you hope to accomplish?”

“Action” he responded.

“This is action and you know it.”

“This is reaction.  I think they calling you.”  No one was calling to Latifah, Omowale was just done.

“Look, I know where you are coming from.  But BLM is this generation’s SNCC.  SNCC was right.  We are right.  See that.  We could use someone like you.”

Omowale snickered, “Whether SNCC was right for its time is a whole other question; but this is also a whole other time.  We’d be a lot farther if we took action into our own hands.”

“You’ll die.”

“I’ll kill before that happens,” winked Omowale.

With that Omowale and his crew walked away from the memorial site.  Latifah hid her smile and continued back toward the grieving Mrs. Canton, who had never stopped repeating “Praise Jesus.”  Was Latifah right?  She would wrestle with that idea for months to come.  The onlooker Mawuli, however, was convinced that Omowale took a “man’s” approach  and for that Mawuli followed Omowale and inquired about his operation.  Omowale gave Mawuli an address, a time and a plastic card; then told Mawuli to be at that address, at that time, and told him to ‘order a green smoothie with extra ice and charge it to that card.’  Mawuli noticed the card was fake but assented.  Omowale assured, “Police Brutality ends with us.”

To be Continued . . . (5/12)