(Editor’s note: Please enjoy this bonus live version of “What’s Goin On.”)BIO Jarika Tucker is pursuing her MS in Computer Science. She develops apps during the day, writes at night, and directs a short film once every blue moon. She spends her free time reading anything she can get her hands on and traveling as far as her family’s budget will go. She is a member of the AWP and was a Mentee in their Writer to Writer Mentorship program. Jarika recently read an excerpt of her speculative manuscript about magical Black mermaids, The Drowning Crown, at AWP’s 2020 conference; she is seeking representation for this and other speculative fiction works. Visit her website jarikatucker.com for updates on writing and film. She is also on Twitter @jarikatucker and IG @lovejarika. DONATE A donation has been made to: The Equal Justice Initiative The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
BIORosey Lee is a New Orleans native who lives in Atlanta. She is the author of Beautiful, Complicated Family, a collection of uplifting flash fiction stories. Her stories have appeared in Necessary Fiction, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, Turnpike Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has also been nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net anthology. Subscribe to her website for updates and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.
DONATEA donation has been made to: The Equal Justice Initiative The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
BIODavid recently graduated with a degree in sociology and a minor in creative writing. He likes writing short stories and occasionally making mash-ups.
DONATEA donation has been made to COVID Bailout NYC COVID Bailout NYC is an all-volunteer, grassroots initiative that posts bail for medically vulnerable inmates and ensures that they are released into their communities safely.
I have heard the echo of all of us being exhausted on all levels. We fall into despair when thinking about changing a whole system rooted in racism and hatred. It feels too big for a people who are already suffering from micro-aggressions, mental health disparities, financial gatekeeping, and our complex, generational healing journey through life. We are overwhelmed, afraid, outraged, and TIRED of yelling into a void.
Before becoming complacent or completely detaching, I think “Freedom” can bring Black people back to ourselves. It allows us our weaknesses, it humanizes us with our flaws, and pushes us to rise up again. It’s the second wind, when our breath continues to be taken from our loved ones.
When I hear his song, it holds my heart and gives me space to be angry, frustrated, determined, and understood. Kendrick’s part is the struggle of our day to day with the end reminding us– Freedom is where we find peace. There is rage and a message to keep moving forward towards freedom. I find my way out of the hopelessness that the re-traumatizing grief of continual murder and dehumanization in America wears on me.
I recommend watching this video in Lemonade. It reverberates through my skin as I can feel the energetic intention through Beyoncé’s grimaces and facial expressions.
This, to me, is the Black superhero music we all need when fighting for our lives against systemic oppression and injustice, and for reform.
Lysz Flo is a, trilingual spoken word artist, author of fiction and poetry, member of The Estuary Collective, and a podcast host of Creatively Exposed. Read her poetry novel “Soliloquy of an Ice Queen.” www.lyszflo.com
A donation has been made to: Miami Dream Defenders
Miami Dream Defenders is a local organization founded after the murder of Trayvon Martin. It has been consistently working towards advocating for the safety, security and well-being of marginalized communities.
“Strange Fruit” has become a protest song over the years because it pulls no punches.
The referenced “fruit” are Black men and women who have been lynched in this country.
I imagine there was a time when you couldn’t drive through the South without seeing Black bodies casually hanging from trees in the distance.
According to the Tuskegee Institute, over 4,000[i] human beings were murdered by lynching between 1883 and 1941 in the United States. “Strange Fruit” details the brutality and horror of this widely accepted and practiced act of mob murder during slavery and beyond.
Nina Simone’s delivery adds a layer of heartbreak to an already gut-wrenching song. The music is sparse, allowing Nina’s voice to be the prevalent instrument. You can feel the pain and disgust in every syllable.
I can see their distorted faces when she croons:
Them big bulging eyes, and twisted mouth
Can you smell the bodies in the Southern heat?
For the sun to rot, for the leaves to drop
Sadly, this song is as relevant in 2020 as it was when it was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. While public lynchings have fallen out of favor as a way to end a Black life, we’re still very much in the fight to prove our value and right to live. This is why we say Black Lives Matter.
(Editor’s note: The video below contains images of lynchings)
Danielle Motley is a writer who focuses on the medium of film and television. She’s known for creating stories that center around flawed, nuanced Black female protagonists with myriad experiences not unlike her own. Her most recent feature film screenplay focuses on what the world today would look like had Africans taken Europeans as slaves and used them to build America. Danielle is from San Diego and is a married mother of three.
A donation has been made to: Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
[i] Seguin and Rigby, National Crimes: A New National Data Set of Lynchings in the United States, 1883 to 1941 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2378023119841780
Alls my life I has to fight, n*gga
Alls my life I
I couldn’t tell you which Black death — murder, really — caused me to first play Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” But I know I played it in the minutes after I stood behind my closed office door to mourn Terence Crutcher. That “big bad dude” shot dead in the road reminded me of my big bad father. I wept. My head throbbed with a fierce heat with every wail I swallowed. Then I shuffled to my desk and put on my headphones. I played “Alright” so loud my eardrums ached. I worried my coworkers, mostly white, could hear it and would report me. But I refused to turn it down. I needed the words to knock the pain out of me. After the second replay, I opened my office door.
Wouldn’t you know
We been hurt, been down before
They kept shooting. We kept dying. Our pain, our pleas, our concern wasn’t enough to sway the 2016 presidential election. I knew before I saw the election results. I knew the country had slid further into shadow because it was nothing new to me. The morning after, I queued up the song. I sat on the floor and wept. Then I played it again as I got ready for work. The show must go on.
I can see the evil, I can tell it, I know it’s illegal
I don’t think about it, I deposit every other zero
I come to this song often. Not after every shooting, murder, bombing, or act of violence against Black folks. If that were the case, I’d be a dazed devotee forever at the altar of my musical god. But I play it once for my grief. The spoken word, the horns, and the drums catch my sorrow. The song is upbeat, but I still weep, my singing guttural. Kendrick raps what so many of us Black folks live and endure. Every word extracts my pain like a Sunday hymn until I am cleansed. Then I listen to it again. On the second go ‘round, I snap and bite the words. I shout and dance as the words that once helped me mourn, build me back up and empower me. Then I’m ready to move forward.
N*gga, we gon’ be alright
Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright
There’s a reason Black people sing “Alright” on street corners with raised fists. There’s a reason we bump it till our cars shake as we cruise down the street. There’s a reason we shout it at rallies. It is the spirit of us. It’s only fitting that “Alright” became and continues to be an anthem of sorts for Black Lives Matter.
DW McKinney is a writer and reviewer living in Las Vegas. You can find her on Twitter (@thedwmckinney) or say hello at dwmckinney.com.
A donation has been made to: Black Visions Collective a Black, trans, and queer-led organization in Minnesota that seeks liberation for all members of the Black community.