A friend asked me to come out and join a community gathering for Troy Davis at the Martin Luther King Jr., National Historic Site on Auburn Ave in Atlanta. His message read, "Can we count on you to join us in support of brotha Troy Davis and say a few words?" Not being all that familiar with the case, I did my due diligence and looked up the history of this "brotha" from another mother. I couldn't believe how out of the loop I had been. I had more unwanted knowledge about Beyonce's pregnancy and Kim Kardashian's wedding, than this life or death issue. Why had Troy Davis' story not made it to any of my news outlets or social circles until now? It didn't feel right summarizing my crash research into a forceful manipulation of the "right words" for the following day's march... my heart wasn't there. But why did I feel so guilty about deciding not to attend? For the next couple of days I analyzed how I could be so heartless, especially when someone's life was on the line.
A few days later, during a conversation about modern day activism, another friend revealed she too had declined the same invitation. The more we talked, the more we were able to flesh out the reasoning behind our discomfort. Our choice was not about not wanting to help, but rather how we were asked to help. To us marching today seemed antiquated, inauthentic of who we are and how we view the world in our 30sumptin' years of age. Even though we are the offspring of a generation of marchers, media and technology had mentally forged us into a new ideology that seemed to disconnect us from our parents, so much so that we couldn't possibly fathom holding up a home made sign with the same slogans from the
civil rights movement. The wording on the invitation I received was even bothersome. Theoretically, I understood the significance of using familiar "Black community" buzzwords like "Brotha" and the choice of location, the famous Auburn Avenue, in attempt to remind us of our struggle and retain the importance of community. However, the sentiment instead felt manipulative and presumptuous; because I'm a conscious sista, I'm expected to arrive with my Afro pick, Black power fist, and theme music of NWA's, "F*ck the police" to stand in support. I was never even asked my position on the issue. What if I
had showed up and spoke in support of the police officer?
This was not the first time that I had witnessed community leaders organize without doing their due diligence. More infatuated with the nostalgia of the civil rights movement, than they are in challenging themselves and the community with innovative thinking relative to the world we live in today in order to create real change. Even the tactics used during the civil rights movement were innovative for the time period, Rosa Parks not giving up her seat was also planned and connected to a strategy. These key elements made a world of difference. The consensus of our group conversation was that being asked to join a demonstration with no plan or the same plan from forty years ago has the same annoyance of
receiving multiple random requests to 'like' someone's fan page on Facebook.
I recently met a white woman who runs a social media company with a unique activist approach; instead of helping to build houses in Haiti she decided to travel a small group of bloggers to the distraught destination. She told me about how a person was appalled by the trip because they didn't consider it to be real "change" work. Her position was to do what she does best to broadcast the unknown stories from Haiti to draw further support. The point is marching is not the only form of activism.
Even though I didn't march on the street for Troy Davis, at the end of the day I was thankful for the invite to participate as it ultimately broadened my awareness of a crucial matter; a man scheduled for execution after being accused of shooting a cop with out any apparent evidence. I chose to instead display my activism through my own voice, which is to find ways that inspire people like myself, who also don't speak "march for my rights", to think of other ways to activate their activism. I realized that it's not marching that I have a problem with, but rather the loss of creativity that inspires why we should march.
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