When you are a student of history, you recognize the connection between the shooting of Renisha McBride and the shootings on E. 7 mile at the barbershop and everywhere else in the city. When you are a student of history, you recognize that the same system of oppression creates both the Theodore Paul Wafer and George Zimmerman’s of the world who cower in fear of Black people and aim first before asking questions and that this same system of oppression also creates the massacre of Blacks by Blacks in the urban communities.
When people ask me why I didn’t rally on E. 7 mile, but I rallied in Dearborn Heights, I recognize that they are not students of history. That they do not understand the system of oppression which creates this genocide among Black people. When violence is happening in your community, the place you lay your head at night, you cannot just stand in the gap, you must be rooted there! You cannot just protest, you must eat, sleep and…breathe the solutions! The strategy for minimizing violence on E. 7 mile cannot be the same strategy for minimizing violence in Dearborn Heights! This is why I have devoted my life to working with young people in my city, in my community! This is why I do restorative justice workshops, this is why I jump out of my car on the road and break up fights, this is why I make myself accessible as a mentor all hours of the evening, this is why I lose many a nights sleep trying to find a young person a safe roof over their head . . . This is the strategy you use in your neighborhoods, in your community! Yes, you protest in Dearborn Heights, you may even protest in the city when the perpetrator of the crime does not look like you, because you can only raise awareness of their behavior, you cannot teach them not to be racist, you cannot teach them not to fear you, their communities must do that, their families must do that, their churches must do that! Awareness is just that, awareness! The real work happens in the schools, on the block, in the neighborhoods, in the churches, but in order to make a real impact, a sustainable impact, you must name the enemy! You must know that the enemy you are fighting is much bigger than any one individual. Until we recognize that the very system we finance and support is killing our babies, we will be harmless to defend them.