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APJMM Tri-Monthly eNewsletter (Summer 2020)
"Seeing AR History in 20/20"
Because our hindsight informs our foresight.
THREE DECADES LATER...
During the summer of 1988, between my high school junior and senior years, I went to U.S. Army Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.  It was there that I first heard N.W.A's song "Fuck Tha Police."  I was totally taken aback by the song.  I asked myself, "Can they do that?" and "Why would they say something like that?"

The following year, I watched the media and political fallout from that song.  N.W.A was attacked on all levels and from all sides.  And, when they were given an opportunity to explain themselves, they spoke on what it was like to live in Compton, CA, which they described as an apartheid-like police state.  Yet, they were dismissed.  The FBI responded, not by investigating their allegations, but by developing a campaign of harassment against them and coercion against their record label and the radio stations that dared to play the song.

In 1991, I was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, when after dinner one evening my fellow cadets and I would sit and watch the news together, we watched on NBC News the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) horrific beat down inflicted upon Rodney King.  Sitting among Black male teenagers from Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, I was the ONLY one of us that was completely shocked and amazed at what we had seen.  So, they spent the rest of the night educating me by telling me personal stories of observation and experience growing up in a world dominated by police misconduct.  And, it was that night that I made a lifelong vow to use my knowledge and skills fighting for social justice.

Between the night that Rodney King was brutally beaten by a literal gang
of LAPD cops, none of whom were truly held accountable for their actions, and the afternoon that George Floyd was savagely murdered in broad daylight by another literal gang of police officers, the numbers of unarmed Black men and women, boys and girls, that have lost their lives due to police violence has been staggering. 

In the 1990s, there were a total of 49 victims.  In the 2000s, there were a total of 157 victims.  In the 2010s, there were a total of 3560 victims.  In the year 2020, there have only been 22.  And, the Black community can only thank yet another destructive virus for this decline: SARS-CoV-2, being yet a whole other story spotlighting fatal systemic racial injustices that disproportionately affect Black Americans.

When N.W.A yelled out for help, their cry was deflected by people who were more concerned with the average number of police officers in America who are killed each year in the line of duty.  (That number was 50 in 1988.  In 2019, that number rose to 58.)  Today  when we all yell out for justice and equity, our cries are deflected by people who are more concerned with fabricated, unsubstantiated reports of "domestic terrorists" using us as cover followed by the use of even more police misconduct and violence.

White America, you have had thirty years to respond, and you have failed miserably because to do so in the humane manner requires you to admit that systemic racial injustices not only exist, but exist for your direct benefit.  Now, right this moment, may be your last, and only, chance to do finally do something to save us all.
 
Kwami Abdul-Bey
APJMM Co-Convenor
PHOTO BY: Clarice Abdul-Bey, taken at History Marker Ceremony for Frank Moore (1888-1932) World War One veteran / Progressive Farmer & Household Union of America (PFHUA) member / Elaine 12 defendant
THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM ON MY ALTAR
"Because we have not dealt with the lynchings of the past, we are living them in our present," is what I heard while sitting in quiet meditation.  I scribbled it down and felt a wave of very conflicted and frustrated emotions. 

As I started reflecting on it, I thought about the "we." 

Was it our responsibility throughout history to keep fighting, only to watch our family, friends and community members die at the hands of racial terrorists and systems of oppression?

I started thinking about all of the black lives that have been extinguished up to this present day in America by the disease of a perceived supremacy that has been fueled by fear and complicity. 

I have different alters in the spaces within my home. Some are for family members   who   have   transitioned. 
Some are for ancestors in whom I honor for the sacrifices they made that cost them their lives. Part of the work of APJMM is creating spaces for healing to honor and to remember our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who have been victims of racial terror lynchings and racial violence in Arkansas.

In many native cultures, the belief is that a spirit does not rest, and is left in turmoil to wonder the earth until justly honored and put to rest.  I want them to be at rest and have the peace that was not afforded them in black, brown, and/or native indigenous bodies.  
 
There is just not enough room on my alter ... because the lynchings still continue today.

#AR492+              #BlackLivesMatter

 Clarice Abdul-Bey
APJMM Co-Convenor
PHOTO BY: Brian Dailey, taken in Conway, AR
MY SUMMER INTERNSHIP
My name is Abraham Kahasay.  I am currently a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service at University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  I will be spending my summer completing an internship project with the Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial Movement (APJMM).

My project work includes looking at the best practices involved in the process of creating Community Remembrance Projects (CRPs).  CRPs are part of a system of locally-controlled organizations that were created by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), in conjunction with county-level partners that seek to create memorials for lynching victims.

I chose this incredible project because, as recent events have shown the world, violence against Black Americans--especially public violence--is still the horrifying norm.

As I do my research into the past while looking at current events today, I am further convinced how utterly important this work is.  I am also deeply saddened that it seems history continuously repeats itself. 

While I am under no illusion that my work will create huge change, I am more than convinced that it will be another grain of sand added to tip the scales of justice.
PHOTO BY: Ebony Blevins, taken in Little Rock, AR
DEAR WHITE READER:
Please take a deep breath before reading any further.  Go ahead ... inhale for a couple seconds ... exhale for a couple more.  Now carefully read out loud the following:
 
Slavery.
White Privilege.
Structural Racism. 
Lynching. 
Jim Crow. 
White Supremacy...
 
and the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
 
If you are now feeling uncomfortable, good.  Now read that again but this time picture George, Breonna and Ahmaud by your side.  More uncomfortable?  Even unbearable?  Good.
 
If we as white people are truly committed to going beyond being "shocked" or "appalled" or feeling "angry" or even "guilty," then we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.  We must take the revolutionary steps to receive, reflect, and reckon with the truth of our painfully ugly past and the reality of our violently difficult present.  So if the recent slayings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery,
at any level makes you feel uncomfortable, lean into that discomfort.  As a matter of fact, suffocate yourself with that feeling so you can experience some tiny fraction of what it must be like to have the breath of freedom taken from your body. And then you can start to truly understand and wrestle with your relationship with and your role in keeping racism alive. And then you can begin to learn why protests and even looting can manifest themselves as authentic and justified responses to centuries of systematic injustice that has not just historically denied black people's humanity but continues to threaten black people's existence one black body at a time. Do ALL LIVES MATTER?  Nope.  Not until black ones do. 
 
Because we all are connected to it and either effectively dismantling it or effectively supporting it. And we at APJMM believe it's through this "racial stamina building" and connecting to our humanity that we can heal and transform as a community. But it starts with you and me.

Donald Wood
APJMM Co-Convenor
The APJMM Pulaski County Community Remembrance Project  operates solely off of the generosity of the citizens and businesses in Pulaski County. 

Our 15-month campaign "Seeing AR History in 20/20" uses
arts-infused, educational activities to use our hindsight to
inform our foresight.  Link below and select
Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement.
DONATE NOW
ARKANSAS PEACE & JUSTICE MEMORIAL MOVEMENT (APJMM) is a joint project between Just Communities of Arkansas (JCA) and Washitaw Foothills Youth Media Arts & Literacy Collective (WFYMALC).
FINAL WORD:

The APJMM Pulaski County Community Remembrance Project has launched its Coming To The Table (CTTT) community discussions.  To join these very timely and vital discussions, you will need to complete a CTTT Membership Application.  We are very happy and excited to report that within the last two weeks, we have enjoyed a membership increase of one and half dozen new members.

The initial meeting of the central Arkansas CTTT chapter will be held virtual on the evening of Wednesday, June 10, 2020.  Those who join by noon on Wednesday will be provided with the Zoom login and password,
We leave you with Donald Wood's favorite short video on system racism:
Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory
loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system.
Here's a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.

act.tv is a progressive media company specializing in
next generation live streaming and digital strategy.
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