“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” -Frederick Douglass
Hip hop has always been where CNN meets the streets. Aside from its current reign over popular culture, it has invariably acted as a safe haven. One tailor made for those who are brave enough to have their controversial opinions live on forever in the form of music. So when BET gave the green light for the six part docu-series “Finding Justice” that incorporated the stories from members of my oppressed African American community along with our fearless voices in Hip Hop, I knew that in this conversation surrounding the justice that is absent in the black community, we would at least be safe.
The six parts of the BET “Finding Justice” Docuseries in no particular order:
The Stand Your Ground Law — Tampa
The Lead Paint Crisis — Baltimore
The School to Prison Pipeline — Los Angeles
The Cash Bail System — St. Louis
Voter Suppression — Atlanta
Police Brutality — Twin Cities
On thing is made very clear to me as I look through the list of places and topics that this series explores. It is very black and white that African American communities are denied justice in this country across every possible area of life. But I have no time to be sad or tired because there is information to digest and work to plot.
Episode One: Stand Your Ground
The Markeis McGlockton case is one that I was unfamiliar with prior to watching the first episode of “Finding Justice”. But that ignorance was short lived.
During the premiere of the episode one I sat crying behind the parents of the murder victim. And I wish I could have stayed unfamiliar with the case. However as I listened to the story behind the name Markeis McGlockton it dawned on me that the fleeting feeling of unfamiliarity was so welcomed in my heart because of the feeling that came after watching Markeis McGlockton collapse from a bullet to the chest. Desensitivity.
This is a problem.
For those who do not know Markeis McGlockton is a son, boyfriend, father, black man, and human, who was shot over a handicapped parking spot. After getting in an altercation with a vigilante parking monitor Markeis McGlockton was shot and murdered on the basis of the infamous stand your ground law.
I’ve been here before and if you’re reading this and you are black you’ve been here before. And because his memory will live forever I will say his name: Trayvon Martin. Markeis McGlockton was a son, boyfriend, father, black man, human, and number. Murdered for being black and just another number to me, so that I could cope with the possibility of another black family not getting the justice that the system owes them. And as I watched T.I. explain why the Stand Your Ground Law was in effect with a flippant tone and a fire in his stare, I realized something:
There are two ways that we as black people are able to deal with being black in America. This is especially true when confronted with the worst part of its humanity.
The first way, leans on the side of anger, as James Baldwin said:
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
This is the way that the T.I.’s, David Banner’s, Angela Rye’s, and Amanda Seales‘ resist on our behalf. Unapologetic, and unwavering they show a human emotion that our ancestors were never allowed to show when confronting our lack of justice. They are hip hop, rebellious by nature and hardened to the public eye. Their type protects us. Their anger acts in tandem with the producers of this show: Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Dream Hampton because they use their platforms to not only educate, but to protect us. Their anger acts in tandem with the activists on this show: Rashad Robinson the President of Color of Change and the like, who act on our behalves to cut funding from the white nationalists and apply pressure to the unjust police force.
And as admirable as this first way of coping is, I believe there’s also a second. To be deaden. This attitude is the most dangerous to the black community because of the lack of fight associated with it. There is a tiredness with this coping mechanism and rightfully so. As you see every line of defense cave to the fear of a nonexistent black supremacy, wouldn’t you be tired? From the sheriff who let McGlockton’s murderer (his name is purposely omitted from this article) roam free, to the lawyers that volunteered to represent him justifying his crime; we as black people are impeded when on the hunt for justice. Wouldn’t you be tired?
As we go through the first episode of “Finding Justice” the fight in the eyes of Markeis’s father Michael McGlockton and his lawyer Michele Rayner-Goolsby should wake you up. Because the fight is far from over. It is the same fight that is present in the eyes of those who communicate to us and for us via hip hop. As McGlockton’s murderer faces trial in August of 2019 the McGlockton family are going to need shoulders to lean on as they continue to seek the justice they have already been denied.
I’ll see you after episode two: The Lead Paint Crisis
Written by: Chay Rodriguez