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Happy 4th of July!

When Black Women Soar, We Do It Without Wings

But who catches our heart?

When Dylann Roof killed nine unsuspecting Black worshippers in a Charleston church on the evening of June17th, 2015 — the mass shooting was a breathtaking tragedy that was particularly brutal due to the nature of the circumstances.

Roof, a young White male who happened upon a prayer service in session — and was generously allowed to participate — specifically targeted the oldest “African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South.” He had done his research and was purposeful in his quest to inspire a race war based on the results of his deadly actions.

The killer wanted to make history as the sole curator of “the largest mass shooting at an American place of worship.” And he got his wish.

It was later revealed that Roof was a White supremacist who had a fondness for smugly posing with the Confederate flag.

Once this news item was made public — the longstanding debate about whether or not to remove traces of the historical symbol of racial disharmony — fueled by the lethal treachery of White America against Black America — was reignited.

Older White folks with nostalgic tendencies towards the good old days — when slavery was still an active business — veiled their bigotry with war stories and patriotic narratives that are supposed to wash away the evidence of bloodies souls — that were vanquished by the Whiteness and enslavement of the Confederacy.

For White America, the Confederate flag is nothing more than a mere relic of the past that can be either viewed with a distant recognition of its statutes or proudly embraced for ancestral connections — that are meant to diminish the hauntingly offensive narrative.

For Black America, the Confederate flag is the glaring evidence of normalized brutality at the hands of systematic oppression, that has somehow persisted and evolved into modern-day lynching — through the jaws of the law and activities of White citizens — who are equipped with the weaponry of hate that seduces race wars.

Some days after the mass killing of Black people by a White man who fetishized the flag’s reverence, the argument for and against its continued romanticization raged on — without an end in sight.

It took the guts and valiance of a young Black woman by the name of Bree Newsome to step out of the shadow of “all talk and no action,”and basically surrender to the consequences that would erupt — once she scaled the 30-foot pole to pull down the Confederate flag — secured on the grounds of the South Carolina State House.

Newsome, who was thirty at the time, ignored orders from the police — who directed her to step down as she made her way to the waiting target.

Her non-violent stance was elevated by her poignant speech, that encapsulated the horrific state of affairs of a people who have endured the unimaginable, and are still expected to weather the pain of existence to honor the privilege of Whiteness.

“In the name of Jesus, this flag has to come down. You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today.”

After Newsome made her way down from the pole once the flag had been lowered, she and her companion, James Ian Tyson were subsequently arrested,

About forty-five minutes later — the flag was returned to its former position.

The praises for the Black woman who couldn’t contain her desire to honor the memory of innocent Black people, who died for the sin of being Black, were non-stop, as even notables like filmmaker Michael Moore — offered to bail her out and handle her legal fees — while civil rights group leaders applauded her efforts and hailed her as a newly-minted icon of the movement.

The critics spoke loudly too — as they admitted that while her intentions were honorable and valid — the execution could complicate the mission of having the flag permanently removed. Newsome had essentially broken the law in her bid to correct the law and now the law might never be fixed.

It was astounding to witness the nonchalance of South Carolina legislators who completely ignored the significance of what Newsome had achieved — just days after the terrifying massacre in a church — that was carried out by a defiant White supremacist — who swore allegiance to White America — and the soiled accompaniments of his religion.

After killing nine Black people in a church — Dylann Roof was awarded a meal at Burger King by the arresting officers.

They had observed the “very quiet” “very calm,” young lad — and concluded that he was “not problematic.”

But, Dylan Roof is undeniably a racist piece of shit — who mapped out the strategy of his attack with meticulous skill:

“I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

After the massacre at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — Bree Newsome didn’t have much of an appetite. She was tormented by the audacity of Black lives being tragically cut short at the hands of a White man — who wanted to be a hero so badly that he used his privilege to exact pain, suffering and death on those he deemed as less than human.

“I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising”

Newsome’s fight against racial terrorism was won when the flag she sought to get rid of was finally removed — weeks after her epic climb on the pole of injustice.

Like Rosa Parks before her — Newsome took a stand against the climate of hate that still permeates the institutions of law and order by forcing African-Americans to tolerate the daily reminders, that aim to devalue the dignity of our station.

She was the superhero who soared without wings, and even though I joined others who touted her heroism — three years later, my assessment of Newsome’s brave act is seeped in the simplicity of her decision to abandon the safer strokes of the keyboard — for the sacrifice of demonstrating why her soul was alighted by the senseless deaths of Black people — congregated in a church — who unknowingly prayed for the devil in their midst.

It’s the same reason we are now aware of Therese Okoumou — the forty-four- year old immigrant from Congo, who seized the July 4th festivities by scaling the Statute of Liberty to protest the inhumane treatment of immigrants by the Trump administration.

Okoumou is no stranger to activism — as is evident in her resume that highlights her ongoing participation in protests that are staged to protect the rights of those who share her disposition. She’s also had dalliances with the law that are now being used to potentially screw up her credibility.

The nearly three hour standoff with police was captured for the world to see — and the images are jarringly familiar as we fascinatingly watch another Black woman beautifully commandeer one of the most recognizable monuments in the world — for the purpose of drawing much-needed attention to the welfare of those who seemingly don’t matter.

Newsome, who is vividly active on Twitter — couldn’t hide her endorsement of a fellow warrior who shares a similar fighting spirit that can’t be regulated to the limiting relevance of retweets and threads.

Okoumou’s fate is being sorted as she waits to hear whether or not she will be formally charged with a crime. But, the outcome of the woman who took matters into her own hands as a “fuck you” to President Trump and his henchmen, won’t override the significance of her actions, and how it re-organizes the conversation around immigration in a way that can’t be matched.

In the past few weeks, the immigration crisis took a turn for the worst with the mandated and cruel separation of migrant children from their parents, and the exposure of makeshift quarters that resemble cages.

Media outlets have spent countless hours competing for top prizes in editorial packaging, as reporters are stationed in fields, feeding anchors with information that are primed to cause an emotional toll on wearied viewers.

Who knew that all it would take is the prowess of a Black woman who is deeply connected to the plight of migrants, and refuses to be bamboozled by the staged performances of government and the institutions that thrive off of breaking news that has already broken.

All this to say that when Black women soar, they do it without wings — but who catches our heart?

As California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, suffers the backlash from her noble stance against Trump — who retaliated with public threats on Twitter — which should’ve automatically shutdown his account — there is a sense that when messiness becomes grossly messy — the only ones who are armed for duty are Black women.

And as we soar above and beyond in the name of justice for all — our hearts remain vulnerable to the abandonment and curses that follow our pursuits.

White men are allowed to be recklessly problematic and the criticism of their abominable actions is encased in their humanness, and the fact that White privilege can supremely thrive in dysfunction as long as the biased nature of our society can tolerate it.

Black women are heckled for being too aggressive in our approach. We do what nobody wants to do, and we say the shit that needs to be said, and regardless of those merits and how they factor in the overdue resolve of issues — our hearts are still pummeled by the rejection of our signature stoicism.

We are not superheroes that are bred from a special breed that enhances our ability to walk on water or storm a fiery event — unscathed. We don’t want to be granted the mightiness of descriptions that allot us to otherworldly realms that outfit us for the roles that we were born to embody.

We are humans with beating hearts that break more often than not — and the value of White tears may overtake our ever flowing river — but that doesn’t minimize the pain that takes us up the flag pole and the crevices of the monuments of our discontent.

Black women will always soar without wings and capes, because the euphoric blessing of our capabilities propels our steps — even if our hearts stops beating. And when we come back down — it’s the betrayal of the law that catches us.

But who catches our heart?


Therese Patricia Okoumou: “There are times when justice demands we transcend the law.”

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say!

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