29 January 2014

Habla Ifa, On NonViolence: Avonte Oquendo and Oshun's East River Speak - Part IV

*originally posted by Jadele McPherson, a writer, performer and activist whom I'm proud to call my sister. Reposted with permission and slight edits by myself

Part IV: Oquendo in Da River Lord: Oshun, Mori Yeye O, Medicine, Mirror and Healer

Oshun is sweet yet she is terrifying, the rivers waters are often murky and hide exotic creatures altered by human toxic wastes and other mutations our collective lifestyles cause, poisoning the very natural entities that sustain us. Like grandma used to say "So smart to be so stupid". I cry for Avonte Oquendo today and the countless others who have been washed away limb by limb, piece by piece unaccounted for, and I praise and lift up his family in this time for not allowing him to go unnoticed. I hope we can stand to look at this broken mirror of our education system to be accountable in letting our institutions deteriorate to this level. 

Most of all I hope the swiftness of her waves do not stop us in dreaming of a better world, of a better place for those we are creating when we go away from this crazy violent mess of America. I hope we do not curl in our comfort of suburban homes and well off communities that are "safe" and find the ways to exist in multiple spaces. As we gain access to the forbidden fruits that we keep close pace with the strife of the ghettos even for those who did not grow up there, it is okay to be middle class and grow up with the privileges still denied to so many black children - but to ignore one another because "I did the work," and "you did not" is just no longer acceptable.

How can we create alumni associations that do not mirror those of whites, only commemorating holidays and reunions; how do we create orgs that look like we do, though after we leave elite spaces for the professional world we are riddled with tests our white peers do not have to pass? Can we play Earth, Wind and Fire and James Brown at our college reunions to stir our most creative talents that required us to be better than all the whites that we had to pretend we were equal with in those walls of elistist education some 50+ years after Brown v. Board of Ed? How do we agitate to promote the legacy of non-violence in a world of stop and frisk, Trayvon Martin and Avonte Oquendo? A world in where if you are young and black your life is shot down at 19 or run down to the river in fear and terror when you supposed to be taking notes from a Smartboard. How do we clear the chaos with enough anger to fuel us to bind together, but not too much that it consumes us and drives us crazy? How do we love one another unconditionally to the point where it changes our lives and our lifestyles, where others children are our children and white children do hold the hands of black children, where all of Gods children are bound by Let Freedom Ring to continue drowning out the racists of Alabama and Mississippi Godd@!% How do we remix that message with the innovation we've carried from rumba to hip-hop to dare to care enough for one another that we don't care if we lose $250 of pay because we are worth more? Yes. I have more than a dream.

Ay Sea Santisimo, I have a vision, a divine glimpse of an exercise room and no fences around my school's courtyard, with courses on the connections between West African to Hip-Hop Dance and Afro-Latino history is taught trilingually with all students passing their classes. Where not just white Waldorf children are greeted with a "Hi, welcome today Johnny" but where instead of metal detectors, hot cafe con leche y pastelitos de guyaba y queso are warm and ready for my 2nd and 3rd period class as students barge through the doors practically breaking them down to learn, to seek truth, to seek faith to love we educators as much as they love their own beautiful golden brown to milk chocolate and black pearl complexions. A dream of telling the history of our peoples survival, where every hand shoots up when I ask "How long did the Transatlantic Slave Trade last?" and "What was the last country that abolished slavery?" And we eat lunch in our solar powered, organic food growing, rooftop garden and grocery store, where all owners are black folks and Dominican folks and Boricua, Nigerian, Panamanian, Honduran babies, beautiful children of light, well nourished and listos pa la batalla, understanding how we are one despite our nuances and differences, I have a vision that I know will not fail me, it did not fail my bis bis abuela when I walked through the gates of many buildings that I was never supposed to step foot in from Harvard to Broadway theaters, and yet here I am, well fed and a little overweight, bright and brilliant in love and truth, machete en la mano just like the maroons who birthed me. 

I am the Dream, and I dare you to try and prove me wrong, my truth sings free 200 years from now and I know how to swoop down and see it all in pure spirit from the secrets running through this blood while the rest of y'all stuck in boxes 6 feet under. Can't nobody oppress me enough to own my spirit and so for freedom I'm patient, yeah, patiently I'll wait. And I thank my students for being the ones to break this news to me, you all give me so much hope.

Y.E.A.H. (Young, Educated, {of} African Heritage)
For Avonte and our youth, in love and solidarity

Thank you to my sister Jadele for allowing me to repost her words. It's a strong testament both to Avonte's life and to our spirit as a community of African heritage. Ashe. 

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