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Adinkra symbol for Freedom and Emancipation

What Is Justice Without Freedom?

“An oppressed people can never get justice. For what is Justice to the oppressed? Only a Free and Liberated people will enact justice.” — Suga Ray

Here we are. August 2020. The Black Man, The Black Woman, and The Black Child are still hunted and slaughtered like animals in the street by police and self righteous, gun toting domestic terrorists across the country alike. The Black Man, The Black Woman, and The Black Child, in neighborhoods where they are the dominant group, are still subject to more pollution, lower quality of food, more drugs, more crime, fewer outlets for youth, fewer opportunities for growth, more liquor stores, more unhealthy foods, fewer gyms, and so and on so forth. Basically put, in America, The Black Man, The Black Woman, and The Black Child are still viewed and treated as if their lives do not matter. Yet, we march through the streets shouting Black Lives Matter. I get it. But, no. I mean, have we not learned enough about this beast we are tackling? Are we not smart enough to know that appeasement does not work in this way, with people who consciously choose profit and politics over human life? Have we not studied history enough to know that no people have gained the respect of the authorities by begging, pleading and marching?

In May, the world watched as George Floyd, a 46 year old Black Man, the Father of a 6 year old Black Girl, was killed by Derek Chauvin, a 44 year old white male police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On March 13th, in Louisville, Kentucky, Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old Black Woman, an emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was shot and killed by police officers as she slept in her bed. In February, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year old Black Man, was chased down and shot to death by gun wielding white thugs, as he jogged down a Georgia road. On June 9th, in Manhattan, New York, the body of 27 year old Dominique Alexander, a Black Man from the Bronx, was found hanging from a tree in a park. I can list many more instances. This is all during a global pandemic where people are dying, including lots of Black people, at rates never before seen from the deadliest virus in human history. Have any of the institutions that could help us done anything monumental for our benefit during this time? I haven’t seen or heard anything.

It is quite evident that we must demonstrate that our lives matter by protecting each other at all costs. We must stand up and defend our own lives and the lives of those we love. This is not a matter of acceptance. This is not a matter of people not knowing they are killing people. This is not a matter of morality. To me, that is what a lot of the current Black movements stand for. Too many seem to be about acceptance. They seem to be about listing all the reasons why you should be accepted, respected and valued. Listen, the white men who create structures that restrict freedoms and encourages the brutality, subjugation and murder even, of Black Men and Black Women, know that we are human, they know that we bleed like them, they know all these things, but they simply do not care. Words, signs, fines, and policies will not change the heart nor mind of a person who feels and thinks that they are the superior people, chosen by God, to rule the planet, and that the people who are the darkest are to be controlled and monitored closely because they are what’s wrong with the world.

Let the truth be told. You command respect. You do not ask for it. When someone violates one of your beloveds you address it. Not with picket signs and pleas to stop. No. You address it as a Father would address a group of bullies harassing his Child in the park. Do not be afraid Black Man and Black Woman. If we are not fighting for our own freedom, who will fight for us? Every group of people around the world is benefiting off our labor, off our genius, and off our passion. Truly, they are benefiting off our ignorance and unwillingness to rise above our emotions and our pride, our addictions and all our inhibitions, and work together, and persevere. All we must do is stand up. Once we stand up and declare our freedom is the day we will be free and only then can we have true justice.

Do remember, the fight for social justice is intrinsically linked with the fight for food justice, and the fight for economic justice, and the fight for education justice, and the fight for environmental justice, and the fight for housing justice, and the fight for racial justice. You see, the biggest trick the World played was convincing people that all the fights they have taken on are different. So, in that way, when people think their fight is different from your fight, the people are constantly divided. Eventually many get burned out. People are forced into a position where they have to do so much. We must remember that we are all links in a chain. We all have a part to play. If we each do our part, we will continuously move closer towards our goals while preserving as much of ourselves as possible. This is a long fight. Innerstand there are people in our world that only care about power, or the false illusion of power, and they will stop at nothing to keep that power.

It is my deepest belief that we, Black people in America and throughout the Diaspora, can only have true justice when we are free from all the oppressive structures that govern much of the world. And freedom, that’s something that starts in the mind. We must first innerstand who and what we are. We must know that there isn’t a group of people more powerful than us, smarter than us, stronger than us, nor braver than us. We must simply remember who and what we are. We must know that we are more than our bodies and that there is no such thing as death, so we mustn’t fear that which does not exist. To be absent from the body is to be one with all that is, was, and ever will be. When you leave your body, fragments of your essence are deposited into those who you loved and who loved you, the ones closest to you being impacted the most.

We must identify what freedom means to us. What does freedom look like? To examine this, I recently launched a Freedom Tour, taking youth from Queensbridge and other parts of NYC to Washington, DC for a walking tour and demonstration on Black Lives Matter Plaza. We discussed the foundation and true meaning of this country, the design behind Washington, DC, the history of the Presidents and so much more. The attending youth received copies of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and copies of Message To The Black Man by Elijah Muhammad. The discussion revolved around freedom, justice and liberation. That’s how we get free. That’s how we get justice. Define it for ourselves and then do the necessary works to enact it in our daily lives.

In closing, I do know that every person and every group of people will not be on the same page nor have the same agendas all the time, if any time at all. So, I do not expect to be agreed with in my views nor in my approach to liberating my people. As a Black Man, specifically as a Black Father in America, my mission is not to seek acceptance nor to beg for respect nor to expect justice from the very people who create the structures that restrict freedoms and propagate poverty and all the stigmas and circumstances that lead to destruction, whether self inflicted or imposed unto us. This fight that I have undertaken, it’s the fight that Malcolm X fought, it’s the fight that Marcus Garvey fought, it’s the fight that Fred Hampton fought, it’s the fight that Dr. Khalid Muhammad fought. This is the true fight for freedom and liberation. For without being free and liberated how can we ensure justice is truly served on our behalf?

May all efforts to liberate Black Folks, and Humanity as a whole, from oppression and ensure people have true freedom, be blessed by the Most High.

The journey continues.


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