How do you convince an entire nation that there can be no expectation of justice, period? How do you destroy the myths created by hundreds of years of propaganda, passed down in social studies classes and casual conversation, about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Is it reasonable to expect a vocal minority to convince the comfortable majority to willingly unplug from The Matrix?

The American judicial system has dusted off its full-length zebra-print fur coat with matching wide brim hat and fishbowl platform shoes to go strolling through the streets in 2014. The press-n-curl coif is crisp, the theme music is playing loudly, and the pimp hand is obviously strong. Because not even when the facts clearly support the position of the defenseless, even when there is no weapon present in the demise of the defendant, even when there is video evidence of the egregious nature of the officers’ crimes, justice will not be served. The imperfect lives of the victims become justification for their deaths. Too black, too strong equals dead and gone. Man, woman or child. Again and again.

As I’ve tried to process my feelings over this persistent wave of uncaring and inequality perpetuated by “the system,” my mind turned to the story of Claudette Colvin. Rosa Parks was a civil rights icon, my Soror, a symbol of peaceful resistance that I was taught to love as a child. Dignified and determined, helping to lead the charge. But that moment of intense focus on an injust system was carefully orchestrated. Teenaged, unmarried and pregnant, Claudette Colvin learned that her reality was not the symbol of inequity the Black PR machine was willing to rally behind. Her conscious decision to defy law no less heroic, but her circumstance not deemed suitable to be the visionary catalyst for a resistance movement. Perfectly imperfect. Uncomfortably honest. Flawed and real.

Pimps prey upon the weak and vulnerable, people exploited and abused to remain controlled, subservient, and profitable. Perhaps today’s protests against these horrific deaths shouldn’t focus on words that decry an expectation of justice, because that’s not how the system was ever designed to work. Maybe we should show the police, the judiciary and our so-called Black leadership how much they have in common with Bishop Don “Magic” Juan instead.

WARNING: The enlightened are no longer content to hit the stroll and fund your empire. We won’t continue to tell you how awesome you are while you drain us of every drop of hope and dignity. We’re taking our lives back, die-in after die-in, chant by chant, in this moment of collective awakening. There is no spoon. And both Claudette and Ms. Rosa, equally valued and respected, must be welcome on the front lines if we expect to create systemic change. To agitate. Resist. And win.


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