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#If I die in police custody

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If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Ask questions and ask loudly.  Tell them you must see the video tape. Protest and do more than hashtag my name.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Know that I was murdered and that I deserved better. And that I thought it could happen but I prayed that it wouldn’t.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I cooperated. I gave them my license and registration. I stepped out of the vehicle and placed my hands on top of the car. I did not kick the policeman.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I have plans for the future. I am too blessed to let their anger and disrespect drive me to despair.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Give them anger, resistance and passion for justice. Let them find peace and forgiveness elsewhere.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Remember that I loved you but I loved me more. Believe that.

I did not kill myself.

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Natural woman

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Yesterday, I had lunch at one of my favorite Mom and Pop restaurants. Well, actually I don’t know if there is a Mom, I’ve only seen Pop. Anyway the food is good, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the  laid back lunch crowd is diverse.

I sat in my second favorite booth and ordered my food. I always sit facing the front of the restaurant so that I can see out of the huge glass windows. The view isn’t much. Just the parking lot and the busy street beyond but I get a good look at everyone who comes in.

Yesterday was one of the sunny southern spring days that reminds you that summer is just a few moments away. Shorts, sandals and tank tops are already survival gear.  I dug into my “meat and three” plate of baked chicken, cabbage, collards and potatoes. Yes, I know that’s heavy for lunch but I don’t eat here everyday and after all, this is the South. 

Anyway, I spotted a beautiful woman across the parking lot toward the restaurant. She wore a black jumpsuit with high heels and understated jewelry. Her hair was in a huge lush Afro that grudgingly gave way to the wind now and then.   She strutted, more than walked, with her hand bag firmly hung from her bent elbow.  In one hand, she held her cell phone while the other moved leisurely back and forth in time with her steps.

She walked with the confidence that I love to see in early middle aged black women. 

My sister! I thought as she stepped toward me.  Just then, a man approached walking down the sidewalk toward the restaurant. He seemed a little hurried but there is no way he did not see my sister approaching.   He reached the door just ahead of her, swung it open, walked through…and let the door slam shut in her face!

I was shocked!  Again, this is the south and good manners are expected. Letting the door close on a woman is inexcusably rude!  There was an audible gasp in the restaurant. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who saw what happened. 

The sister, more than surprised I’m sure, hesitated for a fraction of a heartbeat then  proceeded to the door. She opened it wide and stepped in.  She removed her shades revealing a slight sheen of perspiration around her eyes. 

Our eyes met. “That was so rude and disrespectful!” she stated quietly. 

“Yes, it was,” I responded. I shook my head a bit in sympathy as she walked on. A few seconds later, I heard the gentleman seated in the booth behind me say, “That was rude, ma’am. I wouldn’t have done that. Some of us do have manners!”

I didn’t turn around but I smiled to myself because that gentleman had just saved the day for my sister…and me too. 

We Don’t Need Another Hero?

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Yes, I was listening to the song by Tina Turner. It seems to come on the radio when everything seems kind of bleak.  It’s an instant pick me up.  Downright anthem-ish.

I really got into that song today for some reason I cannot readily identify.

We don’t need another hero,
We don’t need to know the way home,
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

We could find something to love about those lyrics? Isn’t that just the kind of music you like to ride with?  You know when you’re driving along and have your dark shades on, AC blasting and you’re on your way back to work after lunch. And you really don’t feel like going back to work.  As a matter of fact, you’d rather go almost anywhere than back to work.

So’s Tina sang to me. Made me imagine myself in that metal mesh and wire  ThunderDome outfit she wore as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.  So I walked in the office with that music playing in my head like my own private theme song.

And made it through the rest of the day. Thank you, Aunty Entity!

For Colored Girls — My Two Cents

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I had heard a while ago that Tyler Perry was going to produce For Colored Girls and I was not happy.  I mean, this work of art was an icon of my very young adult hood.  The play and its characters meant something to me.  I knew them and they were me.  I had read the  prose poem until I knew parts of it verbatim.   So, when I heard that Tyler Perry was going to do the movie, I had issues. 

I know that TPS can do more than the Madea movies.  I have always believed that.  And, I have always believed that Tyler Perry is working toward becoming a great teller of the stories of African American people.  My first concern, though was that this particular story was over his head. 

There was a rumor (and I dont know if it is true or not) that Beyonce would have a role.  I swore that if Beyonce was in this movie, I would not see it.  I know that any of the characters would be beyond Beyonce’s fledgling acting talent.  Sorry, Bey, but I gotta call it like I see it. 

Anyway, there was no Beyonce role but I still had my reservations about Tyler Perry.  I did, however, go to see the movie on opening night.  I went with a group of 4 high school and college aged girls that I mentor and a friend from work.  The younger girls were not really familiar with Ntozake Shange, the original play or prose poem.   So we got our tickets, popcorn and diet colas and seated ourselves in the theater to watch the movie.

First, let me tell you.  The entire theater felt like a Circle of My Sisters meeting.  There were women of all ages from high school to good and retired.  Everyone seemed to come with their ‘girls’.  I saw groups of sorors from different Greek organizations, Eastern Stars, groups of two and three BFFs, a bridge club, a couple of bookclubs, and some crews of ride or die homegirls.  It was fabulous and felt good to see all of us black girls there representing.

So the movie starts and it was on.  Ok, there was a little more commentary and nervous laughter than I really care for.  And the movie?  It was good.  The cast and the acting was excellent.  I could not have asked for better.  I felt a connection to the stories and even recognized some of the poem in the dialogue.  I enjoyed it more after I got over the fact that it wasn’t really the movie version of the play that I was hoping for.  Tyler modernized and screenplayed with the original and that wasn’t what I was looking for.  He took artistic license and added in a couple of characters.  I believe that he wanted to ensure that there was at least one image of a positive black man in the movie.  I am not mad at that but that is still a departure from the original. 

Yet, I am hoping for a revival of the original play.  Hoping to, again, feel that story move me with the emotion and passion that I felt 35 years ago when I discovered For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow was Enuf.  In my most honest moments, I admit that I am pouty about the fact that For Colored Girls is about me and us as black women.  So why is a man telling our story?  I believe that the treatment would have been different if it had been done by a woman.  There, I said it.

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