The day I watched the video of Walter Scott’s murder, I happened upon the most beautiful necklace, made by the supremely talented Canadian, Tracey Tomtene. My remedy for this despair was to listen to the reverent voice of Ms. Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.
After an initial reaction of disgust, and sadness, I revolted in to the fear of the unknown, wondering how many other black men have been murdered in the senseless way that Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Vonderrit Myers, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner and too many others have been? How many others didn’t have the benefit of a camera to serve as a reliable witness to the crime?
My new necklace dons Maya Angelou’s famous words: “Still I Rise.” Wearing this necklace is my attempt to honor black men all over the country who continue to get up everyday, and venture out into a world that has criminalized their skin color. The shape of the necklace was important to me, as unlike my circular wedding ring (which symbolizes my never ending love and commitment to my husband), this necklace is triangular. The edges are spiky, and painful to the touch, symbolizing the pointed, obvious racial commonalities these crimes harbor. I chose a hammered finish on the necklace, but am unsure if the indentations from the hammering should signify the beatings black men continue to face by people whose job is to protect, the fragmentation of our nation, or the exhaustion and fatigue these repetitive crimes have caused so many of the still living – like myself. I suppose, as it’s shape reminds me, it could mean all three.
Perhaps these tragedies will wane by the installation of more and more camera’s, both in the hands of nearby Samaritans, and the cops. However, taking a cue from my new #BlackLivesMatter triangular necklace, I am hoping for a more sacred answer. A deeper conviction of character from those who have yet to acknowledge how their own implicit biases undoubtedly affect the way they do their jobs (this applies to all of us!). I wear my necklace in a humble dedication to all the men who are no longer with us and weren’t able to tell their side of the story.
STILL I RISE
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.
*** Although this poem is written by a woman, and about women, these first three words lend me to think about the black men who continue to rise up. It is not an oversight or without thought that I’m choosing not to address the many women of color who have also been targeted and criminalized in our recent past. ***