Standing on the front line.

~A wife’s testimony of supporting her husband and raising children on the front line for justice~

“I didn’t run out on you. And I want you to know that the time comes in every man’s life when there are decisions he has to make for himself and no one can make them for him. He may have to stand alone. But I want you to know that whatever you decide to do, I’ll be with you.”

-Coretta Scott King

Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

imageMy sons are chanting “Black Lives Matter” along with the resisters of injustice. Hovering over my laptop, I’m anxiously watching Unicorn Riot’s live stream of the 4th Precinct takeover in North Minneapolis, hoping to catch a glimpse of my freedom-fighting husband. Tending to our sons, I am desperately grasping all the parenting skills I possess to explain that Black Lives Matter. This is challenging with two children under the age of five. As I affirm their core value of being loveable, important, and valuable, I can feel a piece of my five year-old’s innocence slipping. Maybe I should say transforming… transforming into consciousness. If we don’t transform our children’s innocence into consciousness, then their innocence will become ignorance. I stay in confliction with the reality that society, systems, and the white supremacist power structure in America teach and demonstrate to African-American children that they are worthless; their lives are not valued; that they do not matter. Our children face this reality in the media, within their schools, and in their communities on a daily basis. That a child, like my five year old, can only see the police as being “bad guys”, because they have guns, is beyond disheartening. That a young child, like many in our African-American communities, is afraid of being harassed and killed by the police is beyond an atrocity. Our children struggle with positive self-identity because everything around them silently screams that they are nothing. In my house, we aim to change this reality for our children, all of our children. So we stand on the front line…
Black Lives Matter!

imageIn the midst of loving on my sons, I see my husband Adrian Mack on Unicorn Riot’s live stream. I affectionately refer to Adrian as The Husbro (husband/Brotha) because we’ve stood on the front line for our people on many fronts together. Adrian is my husband and my Brotha in the struggle, hence the term Husbro. He is standing at the fence of the 4th precinct passionately yelling to police officers “this is a peaceful protest…” Some anxiety subsides… I know he’s still safe… still alive… unbroken (physically). I call him and ask, “what’s the temperature” which is my way of asking about the climate of the resistance. He explains that there were anarchists, not involved with our movement, enticing the police by throwing things at them. Police sprayed peaceful demonstrators with “chemical irritant” to… keep the peace? We know that the police have been lying in wait, hopeful for an opportunity and “valid” reason to inflict more violence upon our people. I tell the Husbro, “be safe my husband, I need you to return home”. “I will, my wife. I’ll be there soon…” is the usual response. It’s actually our ritual. I think about how many times Mrs. Shabazz and Mrs. King had to part with their husbands in the midst of the struggle. I wonder about their parting ritual, about the fear that burdened their hearts, knowing that their husband might not return home.

Martin and Coretta Scott King birthed their first child, Yolanda, about a month before the Montgomery bus boycott began. During this time, their home was bombed, their lives were threatened, and Martin had a warrant for his arrest. Internally, Martin was plagued with frustration and the fear that someone would harm his family; Coretta faced anxiety and depression. In the midst of the internal distress, Coretta found her resolve and unearthed her power. She told Martin “… I want you to know that the time comes in every man’s life when there are decisions he has to make for himself and no one can make them for him. He may have to stand alone. But I want you to know that whatever you decide to do, I’ll be with you”. Together, Martin and Coretta travelled to Montgomery and Martin turned himself in to the authorities. It is important to know that I am not idolizing my Husbro as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s reincarnate. He is Adrian Mack, a freedom fighter in his own right. I use this example with the Kings to illustrate that when the struggle calls, it is our obligation to answer. When my Husbro called me and said he he got the call to show up, I was met with fear. But who am I to deter my Husbro from being a man of the community? I told my husband that I understood why he had to go. In our ritual I said “be safe my husband, I need you to return home” and he replied, “I will, my wife. I’ll be there soon”. He did return. And the next day, I stood on the front line with him. Our fear of the world that our children will inherit is greater than our fear of standing on the front line.

Black Lives Matter!

In the book The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon teaches, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it”. Fanon is telling us to collectively find our purpose and take action. Who are we to be complacent Negroes… especially at the expense of our children? Who are we to be “Facebook philosophers” and hardcore “twitter thinkers” that create great posts and never leave the keyboard to put our radical philosophies into motion… especially at the expense of our community? Who are we to patrol the latest news and throw stones at the brave people fighting to make our lives and the lives of our children better? We are nothing, insignificant, obscure. Obscurity is not an option for my family because it will not be an option for our sons. In The Mis-education of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson breaks it down, “History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.” I produce the courage to support the Husbro’s courage to stand on the front line. He does the same for me. The fate of our children depends on our resistance against white supremacy and our resilience to withstand it. Despite our white “allies” this is OUR fight. So we stand on the front line…

Black Lives Matter!

imageHusbro has been delicately balancing his time supporting me through school, working to provide for the family, nurturing our children, and standing on the front line. We’ve entered the fourth day of occupying the 4th precinct and my eyes are still glued to the live stream. I catch a glimpse of him and our five year-old on Plymouth Avenue. On this day, we agreed that it would be safe for him to “train” with Baba. Just as women have a duty to stand on the front line, there is a place on the front line for our children, too. As African American parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are empowered by their blackness and not hindered. The reporter from Unicorn Riot engages Husbro and a spur of the moment interview ensues. Husbro explains that he is out there for family and community, “we are pushing the change that’s needed… the system is oppressive. It’s about supporting Jamar Clark and his family and making sure that the system changes. The system is oppressive. So my son doesn’t experience the same fate that all of my young Brothas across the nation experience, we have to tackle white supremacy as it manifests in these law enforcement agencies around the world”.

Minnesota is home to covert racism. “Minnesota Nice” is deadly. A little over a week into the occupation of the 4th Police precinct in North Minneapolis, 5 men were shot by white supremacists. The brave men approached the unwanted company, inquired about their presence, and began to escort them away from the protest. They were then shot. The news reports all say that they sustained non-life threatening injuries and I am grateful that these men still have the breath of life. It is important to remember that although an injury is deemed non-life threatening, it can still be life-altering. Husbro was home rejuvenating that night. Without a doubt in my heart, I know that he would have been amongst the injured. The movement responded beautifully. Fear tactics will not deter us, for our purpose is greater.

Across the nation, African-Americans face disparities in health, housing, law enforcement, economics, and education. There are various opportunities to fight and resist the injustice within each of the disparities we endure. Standing on the front line doesn’t necessarily mean marching with signs and chanting “Black Lives Matter”. However, imagethe main ingredient is taking action. Within our (almost) 15 years of unity, Adrian and I have created and stood on many platforms in resistance against injustice within the Black community. Mentoring young people, challenging school systems, engaging Black academia to engage the Black community, facilitating rites of passage for African-American youth, parent advocacy, door knocking for community campaigns, chanting “Black Lives Matter”, and being lifelong students are a few of the front lines that we have stood on. To close, I will leave with a final thought from Carter G. Woodson:

“When a white man sees persons of his own race tending downward to a level of disgrace he does not rest until he works out some plan to lift such unfortunates to higher ground; but the Negro forgets the delinquents of his race and goes his way to feather his own nest, as he has done in leaving the masses in the popular churches.”

-The Mis-Education of the Negro

We don’t have the luxury to leave our weakest behind. Internalized racism is real. 
We got our work cut out for us in educating our people and carrying the heavy
weight of their internalized racism. We still have slave-minded workers in the field
with “house nigga” ambitions, as opposed to freedom. They can taint the movement by validating the white supremacist power structure. The national Black Lives Matter movement presents one aspect of the external work that needs to be done to dismantle white supremacy and its ill effects upon our black communities. Building positive identity, self-pride, and killing “Uncle Ruckus” mentality is an internal effort to dismantle white supremacy. The internal front is crucial because it is our healing and our internal reparations. It supports us in educating and loving ourselves, collectively, so we can all stand on the front line.

Ayo-Ma