mike garner


“Stop making it about race”

“Not all white people are racist”

“All lives matter”

“Reverse Racism exists”

“This is not about one man. This is about structural racism in a country built on Black slavery.”

“You don’t stick a knife 9 inches deep, pull it out 6 inches and call that progress. Progress is healing that wound. America has not even acknowledged the knife is there.” – Malcolm X

Over the summer I created and worked on a project called Black Bodies on Pavement. It was my first ever public art installation and it was a mental and physical process. I researched 60 cases of unarmed (with a few exceptions) black men, women and children who have been murdered by the police (exception to Trayvon). I watched videos of press conferences given by their families, read the articles, learned the details and for some, watched the videos of their deaths. When we speak about #blacklivesmatter only certain cases or names are put in the spotlight or given media coverage. We’re familiar with Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown etc..and while these are still very important cases - My project was about highlighting and honoring the many people, including women who have lost their lives. 

Dates To Remember

January 12th, 2010 - Earthquake in Haiti

May 16, 2010 - Aiyana Stanley-Jones

September 17, 2011 - Occupy Wall Street

February 26, 2012 - Trayvon Martin

April 14, 2014 - Nigerian school girls go missing

July 17, 2014 - Eric Garner

August 5th, 2014 - John Crawford III

August 9, 2014 - Mike Brown

August 9, 2014 (Still happening) - Ferguson Protests

January 3, 2015 - Nigeria Massacre

If I’ve forgotten anything, and I’m sure I have, please add on.

How Mike Woke Me Up

It’s difficult for me to recall life before Mike Brown. Life before #BlackLivesMatter became a reflex. Before the pot boiled over.

I remember Trayvon and the case against George Zimmerman shaking me out of deep slumber; I remember the burning anger that started deep in my core when Zimmerman walked free. I remember all of that but I think I was still dreaming a little, I still didn’t feel quite as invested. I was young and dominos were tipping; I started noticing when black men and women were killed but a short prayer for their families and a quick read of the article, and I went back to sleep.

Then Eric Garner happened right where I was. New York City, my home, became tense and the blue of NYPD became stained with blood as I learned the history I was never taught. I tossed, I turned, I fought against waking up because I didn’t want to find out what being awake would bring me. I was afraid.

And just after that, just when I was squeezing my eyes closed and willing myself to fall back to sleep, Mike Brown was killed. He was so young, like they often are. He was excited to have finished high school. He should’ve been starting college. It felt like ice water to the face and in a way, it was. It was the icy reality of racism, pain, and the deceit that allowed me to be comfortable enough to sleep. I remember how much I cried, how painful it was to accept this truth.

Mike Brown woke me up in time to take in the world for what it is. I’m not sleepy anymore but that doesn’t mean I’m not tired. When I see his name, when I see those hashtags, I mourn for those I’ve never met; I miss them. I wish I didn’t have to learn their names in this way. But I have to. And I will continue to. Because this isn’t over. And today, August 9th, 2015, on the first anniversary of Mike’s death, I say a special prayer of comfort, healing, and protection for his family and friends. A prayer for those on the front lines marching, and those of us doing what we can to educate people. I say a prayer for each and every black man, woman and child. May we be protected as we go through our every day lives.

Remember Mike. Remember Ferguson. Remember that no matter how they try to fight against us that Black Lives Matter.

I am sick of writing this poem
but bring the boy. his new name
his same old body. ordinary, black
dead thing. bring him & we will mourn
until we forget what we are mourning
& isn’t that what being black is about?
not the joy of it, but the feeling
you get when you are looking
at your child, turn your head,
then, poof, no more child.
that feeling. that’s black.
think: once, a white girl
was kidnapped & that’s the Trojan war.
later, up the block, Troy got shot
& that was Tuesday. are we not worthy
of a city of ash? of 1000 ships
launched because we are missed?
always, something deserves to be burned.
it’s never the right thing now a days.
I demand a war to bring the dead boy back
no matter what his name is this time.
I at least demand a song. a song will do just fine.
look at what the lord has made.
above Missouri, sweet smoke.
—  Danez Smith, “not an elegy for Mike Brown”
I Don’t Pray Anymore

I don’t pray anymore.
I don’t clasp my hands together, lookin’ for answers in the sky.
I don’t beg to a deity for help,
2000 years of prayers and god ain’t done shit.
2000 years of prayers and this world is still shit.
I would sooner make a deal with the devil
Than to get on my knees and ask the clouds to send rain
Ask the sun to shine brighter
Ask the birds to fly higher
I know that people have a right to believe,
But when has god done anything for you

When did god do anything for
Mike Brown
“I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting”

Trayvon Martin
“What are you following me for?”

Eric Garner
“I can’t breath.”

Amadou Diallo
“Mom, I’m going to college.”

Sean Bell
“I love you too.”

Oscar Grant
“You shot me. You shot me.”

John Crawford III
“It’s not real.”

These were all prayers to god
God never answered

I don’t pray to your god anymore
It won’t change a damn thing.

If all the Black Lives Matter post offend/annoy you

I DONT GIVE A FUCK. Let me make this very fucking clear, I DO NOT CARE. If you are tired of seeing these post every where and you would rather people remain silent YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. I will say his name, i will say hers, I will say theirs.

Blacks often get labeled as drug dealers since they make up majority of the prison population. People often tell blacks that they’d stop getting incarcerated if they’d stop selling drugs. Research shows that more whites sell illegal drugs than blacks, yet, blacks are arrested more often. That’s something many blacks should bring up.

Another thing to remember is that blacks aren’t the real drug dealers. Illegal drugs arrived in the black communities through President Reagan and the CIA to fund the war in Nicaragua. It was also to end activity by the Black Panther Party. How ridiculous is a president selling a dangerous drug to his country to battle another country? When people say blacks are true drug dealers, remind them of Reagan and the CIA. Think of the amount of drugs it takes to fund a war.