If not now, when?

“No, the time for justice, the time for freedom, and the time for equality is always, is always right now!”

-Samantha Booke

Following the shooting of two police officers in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for activists to stop the protests until after the officers were buried.

“It’s important that regardless of people’s viewpoints that everyone step back,” de Blasio said at a Police Athletic League event Monday, his first of two public appearances to discuss the Brooklyn shootings that day. “It’s a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in all due time.”

If I were a New Yorker, my reply would be: hell no.

The deaths of the two officers was a tragedy, and it came at a particularly horrible time as the city and the nation are dealing with the serious topic of police brutality and the bigoted policing of minority communities. That, however, is no excuse to call for end to the protests.

I sympathize with the Mayor, really. Idiots like Rudy Guilliani have blamed him in part for the officers’ deaths, and he is also dealing with the near insubordination and inflammatory comments coming out of the NYPD. He’s probably just trying to get a grip on the situation and keep it from becoming more heated. But the cat is out of the bag.

The frustrating part is that the Mayor’s comments are hardly a surprise. One of the most common tactics used to silence those who call for change is to attempt to put off the discussion until a later date. You see this a lot in the aftermath of mass shootings. The calls come immediately to stop discussing gun violence and gun laws.

“It’s too soon”

“Stop being divisive, people were killed!”

“Don’t use this tragedy to score political points”

One can see why we get these remarks: because merely talking about making possible changes to the status quo upsets people, and rather than try to have an honest conversation, they attempt to claim the moral high ground and guilt people into avoiding the issues altogether.

But that’s bullshit. We can mourn the slain police officers and continue the protests and calls for justice for victims of police brutality. It’s not an either/or situation. People who say otherwise are only trying to silence those who are calling for change, and that’s not acceptable.

lady justice

This poem is about police brutality. I felt it was appropriate with the especially upsetting miscarriages of justice in the news recently. I took inspiration from Langston Hughes’ “Justice.”

It is known that lady justice is blind,

but I wonder – can she hear?

Can she hear the bullets

pierce yet another body?

Can she hear the roars of grief

that ring out throughout the land, seeking answers?

 

It is known that lady justice is blind,

but I wonder – can she smell?

Can she smell the blood,

as it leaks into the streets

and out of the ruptured soul of a nation?

Can she smell the fear and rage

that builds up,

over yet another betrayal?

 

It is known that lady justice is blind,

but I wonder – can she taste?

Can she taste the blood

that drips from another one of her charges?

Can she taste the sweat that drips down a person of color’s face

as they see flashing lights in the rear view mirror; her sentinels?

 

It is known that lady justice is blind,

but I wonder – can she touch?

Can she reach out and console those

whose loved ones were cut down?

Can she caress and heal the wounds

that were cruelly inflicted?

 

It is known that lady justice is blind.

 

 

Links of Awesomeness

Max Read ponders why anyone should respect the law when the law does not reciprocate.

Many people have decried the blatant unfairness – and outright hostility – of the American justice system lately. But Albert Burneko says the system is working the way it was designed to. A snippet from his piece:

America is a serial brutalizer of black and brown people. Brutalizing them is what it does. It does other things, too, yes, but brutalizing black and brown people is what it has done the most, and with the most zeal, and for the longest. The best argument you can make on behalf of the various systems and infrastructures the country uses against its black and brown citizens—the physical design of its cities, the methods it uses to allocate placement in elite institutions, the way it trains its police to treat citizens like enemy soldiers—might actually just be that they’re more restrained than those used against black and brown people abroad. America employs the enforcers of its power to beat, kill, and terrorize, deploys its judiciary to say that that’s OK, and has done this more times than anyone can hope to count. This is not a flaw in the design; this is the design.

Some good stuff from Gawker Media lately. A lot of their stuff is silly nonsense, but they got a handful of good writers.

I’m working on a poem and another short story. I hope to publish the poem on Thursday.

Send a Holiday message to a survivor of prison rape

[Content note: prison rape]

I was reading Gawker today and I found out about this wonderful program from Just Detention International – Words of Hope – that enables you to send some Holiday cheer to a survivor of prison rape. It’s quick, easy, and free, so please check it out. Prison rape is an atrocious crime that targets an already vulnerable population and the assailants often go unpunished (worse still, the assailants are often correctional officers). To top it off, instead of standing in solidarity with the victims, popular culture often treats this issue as a laughing matter, effectively minimizing the pain and trauma the victims go through and making it harder to enact policies to combat this type of violent crime.

Sending a Holiday message is a very small thing, but it can help brighten someone’s day. It is worth doing.

Michael Moorcock and three-day novels

Michael Moorcock, famed fantasy author best knows for his Elric novels (which have been on my to-read list for a while now. It’s annoying how little of the fantasy “canon” I’ve actually read so far), had an interesting writing method that he used early in his career to churn out books rapidly – in some cases in as little as three days. It’s a straightforward formula and it worked well for him.

I’ve wanted to attempt this ever since I first heard about it. Writing a novel in three days is not for everybody, nor is it my ultimate goal. But I do think that it could be a way for me to learn and master the tenets of structure and plot. It would a writing exercise, basically.

I wanted to get started this past month during NaNoWriMo, but life got in the way (doesn’t it always?). I got a three-day weekend coming up, though, so I’m going to try and start something. In the meantime, I’m going to be thinking of potential plots, characters, scenery, etc.

The goal in doing this is not to write the next Great American Novel, but to begin and finish a novel. Writing is a craft, and I’m still learning how to properly use all the tools of the trade. I’ll make sure to report on my progress, if there is any. You can read all about Moorcock’s method in the link below.

How to Write a Novel in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock