Thursday, July 8, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 63)

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everything is continuous, everything is cyclical... the fact that we have not grasped this concept in our society does not surprise me (having lived in it for this long). still, the thought overwhelms me sometimes.

i woke up from an after-work nap to hear news of the verdict of the oscar grant trial. not really having too much faith in the outcome being positive, i like to wait and see before i pass judgment. as i stood in the aisles in a post-work haze (if you will), the verdict was read. the verdict which would determine the future of thomas mehserle (the cop who shot oscar grant), and on a smaller level the future of police accountability. mehserle was charged with 'involuntary manslaughter'.

having looked at the video of oscar grant being shot by the hands of mehserle (i saw the video from several angles) it was clear to me that he was murdered. an 'involuntary manslaughter' charge is obviously inconsistent with this man's actions. mehserle claimed that he was reaching for his taser but instead grabbed a gun. the one factor which was left out of this case (despite it being a major one) was that oscar grant was HANDCUFFED. his hands were cuffed behind his back when he was shot. i cannot grasp how this would not be seen as malicious intent. there were also disparaging remarks made against him in the course of this event.

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with that i can't help but think about the initial verdict of the rodney king case- like the shooting of oscar grant, the beating of rodney king was RECORDED- and yet, the charges were minimal. the first verdict for the police who beat king resulted in ACQUITTALS for all the cops. the other similarity is that there was the issue of moving the trial to another area, due to the theory that location would affect the outcome of the verdict (read: black people will protect their own, so we don't want them on the jury). and so... an all-white jury will 'OBVIOUSLY' be a bit more balanced...

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everything is interrelated. the mehserle verdict can be looked at in conjunction with the trial you had in 2005, due to the sheer absurdity of both. (not so) oddly enough, the attention given to your trial was excessive and unnecessary, considering that most who reported on it were not even stating facts from the transcript. the attention given to the trial concerning another disregard for (black) life by the police is far from comparable in terms of reportage, as lady gaga (here we go again) receives more press.

what is comparable is that both trials presented substantial evidence (both video and transcript, respectively) and yet, as many times as police abuse is witnessed, there is seemingly unconditional support for the cops' account of events. with the 2005 trial, despite extensive searches by warrant; despite interviews and contradictory statements on the stand, and despite a very long transcript you are still deemed guilty.

there is one thing to critique one's perception of a disregard for social boundaries- which is ultimately the critique here. there is another thing, despite contrary evidence, to label someone something they were charged 'not guilty' of. just as there is substantial evidence of the histories of the the police institution in relation to poor and non-white people; these cops who do not live in the communities they 'patrol' are consistently being placed there. and thus the murders, the drug infestations and the injustice continue.

they. don't. care. about. us.

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from the time we enter this world physically we are conditioned to imprison ourselves, via social behaviors/mores. we as black people are held to a higher standard to adhere to these mores. when we consciously or willingly enter a system which maintains these histories of suppressing and oppressing us, we work harder to be seen as 'better than'.

we exit the womb, already seen as statistics and potential consumers of materially-based goods. having spent so long within a sea of vibration, preparing ourselves for this new world; when we enter this world it could be very frightening for so many of us.

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everything is cyclical... after i spoke with you yesterday i saw a couple of other 'news items' pop up for you... even if gaga having a lot of facebook 'friends' continually gets recycled on every website there is at this point- again, this desensitizes us in terms of how we view relationships. also, the pervasiveness of this information leads me to think of it as representing a larger plan in which we witness the cessation of the value systems of community (in a very traditional sense). we are encouraged to give up our lives for nihilism/self-gratification. nevertheless, it's troubling to see these articles like the ones i saw yesterday, as they actually do take advantage of your teachings, without adhering to them.

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the first article i saw described a plan initiated by a major travel company (STA) to invite fans and others who are interested, to the experience of a 'pilgrimage'; a "world tour of destination", according to the new york times, of places you have travelled. the minimum amount of time for the 'pilgrimage' lasts for a little over a month, and the full experience lasts for a little over four. these travels span approximately 6 of the seven continents around the world. at the current rate of exchange, the basic experience would set someone back a little over $4000. the full 'pilgrimage' costs over $20,000.

“we thought in time for the one-year anniversary of his death it would be a fun way to celebrate his life and to incorporate pop culture with a love of travel.” this is what sophie nicholson, who represents STA travel said.

to me, this is not unlike what sony and AEG have done. this is a matter of marketing- banking on someone's transcendence, hoping that you'll recoup the funds you lost from all the preparations and paperwork.

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the other article i saw angered me a bit more, because it actually did interfere a bit more with your teachings. here, we have an auction which is set for sometime in october. the man who is putting items of yours up for auction is ed kosinski, who runs a site called 'gotta have it!'- here again we have the fixation on consumerism: being consumed by the possession of material items. many of us can lay claim to this in some degree... but the way in which we're so inundated by coercive measures is what i have issues with.

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i'd read so many stories of you just giving items of yours away to either fans or some of the people you've worked with, it led me to think that, despite your oft-reported 'spending splurges'; your focus was on making attempts to gain connection. so when kosinski stated that some of the items of yours he was putting up for auction were actually given to him in exchange for items you wanted - a classic case of bartering- i was far from surprised.

on one end the material items are worth nothing in comparison to your teachings, so putting a jacket or trinket of yours up for bid is not the biggest issue. what does concern me is the value of these items posthumously, and the pitch that these items will bring you closer to someone.

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the idea that these items represent a source of happiness and connection to you is not surprising, but it's upsetting. it's a well-planned detraction from self-reflection.

in a way it's like the cops who indiscriminately shoot unarmed people (like oscar grant): these items (the guns, tasers, batons) assume a pretense of authority. all around, attachments to these items (weapons or not) uphold an allegiance to those who have: the 'upper classes' if you will. those who are the recipients of blunt force- either through child or sweatshop labor or a baton upside your head- do not have lawyers to represent them.

and of course i didn't even get into the 'involuntary manslaughter' charge in relation to conrad murray... that is a whole 'nother day...

it's all cyclical, isn't it michael?

love,
jamilah

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