About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Reflection on Power, Resistance and a Day at the Park

I decided to eat my lunch at a local park yesterday, and upon pulling in, I saw about five or six police cars parked there. Naturally, I was concerned about what might be going on, but I went on, found a shady spot to park in, and began listening to my new favorite podcast, Truth's Table.

The particular episode I was listening to, “Historical and Contemporary Resistance,” was the third in a three-part series on what resistance looks like. In this installment, the hosts—Michelle Higgins, Christina Edmondson and Ekemini Uwan—were discussing present-day examples. It just so happened that, as I was driving out of the park, Michelle was discussing the good folks doing resistance work in Ferguson, Missouri. She lives in St. Louis and has been active in the work in that area.

Image credit: Leo Romero
At this particular moment in my drive out of the park, Michelle was talking about some of the dehumanizing tactics that police officers in Ferguson have used against her and fellow activists. In the same moment, I was passing by the line of police cars and looked over to see a multi-racial group of officers hanging out with a group of black kids and adults, who I assume were leaders or mentors of a youth program of some sort. From my brief observations while I cruised past, I saw nothing to be concerned about. In fact, I saw smiles, laughter and positive engagement. I saw police officers, sworn to serve and protect, being part of their community and (I hope) establishing good relationships with the young people they serve.

The juxtaposition between what I was hearing and what I was seeing was so stark, and it made me long to witness more of the latter. I long for the day when this is par for the course: that those in positions of power and authority a) treat those in their charge with the dignity of fellow human beings and b) see themselves as servants first. I long for more genuine smiles shared between those in power and those they serve, whether that power lies in a badge, a political office, an executive position or a teacher’s desk.

Until then, as the Truth’s Table crew asserted, resistance is necessary—whether that’s through becoming public servants ourselves, raising our children to love themselves and their communities, regularly engaging in self-care in a society that encourages working ourselves to the breaking point, or choosing to acknowledge others’ suffering when it does not affect us personally.

I do know that the scene I witnessed yesterday gave me hope, hope that humanity and service will be lasting takeaways for the officers, children and adults who spent some time together at the park.

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