I’ve been given an exclusive opportunity to interview Munir Avery, New York State’s first upcoming Muslim State-Senator:
NYPD Officers, in Staten Island, New York City, are responsible for the unjust, unnecessary, death by choking, of a Eric Garner. To some this is just a usual isolated incident, of NYPD policing gone terribly wrong. However, for Peoples of Afro-American & Latino-American descent, this has become an all too prevalent expectation of ours: to be confronted, assaulted, violated, and possibly murdered, without any thorough investigation, a nonsense farce of a trial, in another part of New York State, to ensure the acquittals of the Officers who abuse their authority against their victims.
This free-for-all melee of abuses of policing-powers, ever since the dark-days of the Rudy Giuliani administrations, till the present day, we, as ethnically marginalized Peoples, along with other types of targeted demographics, such as Muslims, for example, which I am also a member of this particular demographic… so now, I have 3-strikes against me: Muslim…Black/Hispanic…Black/Hispanic Male…I could’ve just as easily been victimized in the savage manner as Eric Garner was, in my native Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
One really has to ask one’s self a very serious question: “Okay, this man was confronted by Police, for whatever reason. But, how & why did it escalate to him dying, and by being choked to death? Where is the judge & jury, where’s the recitation of this person’s Miranda-Rights, where’s his phone-call for his atorney/next-of-kin, where’s his day in Court?”. And, sadly, his day in Court was deal to him like gangsters deal with their adversaries, for Eric Garner, Court was held in the Streets. But, then, what is the point of Police, when they are the one’s constantly violating the laws in which they’re hired, paid, trusted by their Citizenry & lawmakers to uphold.
In the words of a very wise, young, Muslim-Brother, by the name of Ibrahim Jaaber, “You can’t uphold the Law, if you’re the one above it.”. And, this is the crust of the problem, folks: persons with guns & badges, who think that those they’ve sworn to “protect & serve” are to have the absolute right to abuse & dehumanize all and or any whom they wish, just because the have the fire-power, and political-protection, known as their shields, to do so. So, what are we, as a People, as a society, as a Nation, going to do about this? We can no longer state that, “Oh, they’re just doing their jobs.”, we got that cleared-up with the finds of Stop-And-Frisk, along with religious infiltration into specific Religious-Communities, more specifically, Muslim-Communities. And, we can’t state that these are isolated incidents, because, from Anthony Baez, to Abner Louima, to Amadu Diallo, to Sean Bell, and now Eric Garner…what the Hell is going on?!!!
I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on, we have severely regressed, as a society & nation, and have reverted back to the old-ways of the olden days of Jim-Crow type policing-abuses, which basically give the Police the unlimited authority to abuse whom they choose, with little to no consequences on part of the Officers in question who abuse, while even pressuring, threatening, victims with deportation, violence, etc., for exposing the abuses of authority by Police. It’s crystal-clear to me, and should be to anyone & everyone else that there’s is no such thing as a Colorless-America, since Barack Obama has been a President, nor has the dreams of persons like Martin Luther King, Jr. have been authentically realized, nor has there been any true strides by the so-called leaders of our communities to do anything substantial to change the negative nature & relationship that the Common-People have with Law-Enforcement.
Every month I’ll be conducting a Poetic-Challenge, challenging various poets, whom I personally know/interact with, just for the sake of sharpening/improving my own poetry, general-goodwill, respect for my fellow “Brethren of the Paper & Pen”, and to just see who from among us has the best “Poetry-Skillz”…Every month, I’ll be picking a brand-new Poetic-Challenger, via Facebook/Twitter, to compete with. This month, it’s Cyrus McGoldrick. Next month, it could very well be anyone of you. So, just be prepared, with some fresh-rhymes.
Topic: Yearning for something More
The Warmth We yearn from one another:
When the blistering Winter descends…
…We can no longer afford to pretend.
We get cold so quickly, it really hurts…
…We pursue warmth which takes work.
We all want the heat of Love, to warm our heart…
…Each of us wants a companion who’ll never part.
But, Life is sometimes a cruel Snow-Storm, covering all in its path, with the crispest & iciest harshness…
…However, we must make a Summer out of every Winter, protecting our hearts from a freezing-tempest.
We mustn’t succumb to the hypothermia of Loneliness…
…We all need someone to keep us from cold distress.
Being close, to the one who you love, is one of the greatest feelings of all…
…So, think about the one who keeps you warm during the heavy Snow-Fall.
This Man, this luminous writer & author, Amiri Baraka, has touched the minds & hearts of so many People, from around the World, through his consciousness, via his writing. Yet, sadly, he has passed-on. However, his impact on the Literary-World, I hope, at least, will long outlive him & be a catalyst to promote the preservation of his memory.
Your Star hasn’t been blown-out:
Although it’s sad to see you gone.
Your writing still makes us whole.
We love & appreciate your contributions to poetic art.
Your diction were as poignant and sharp as any dart.
You were the rebel inside all of us, who stood against opposition via paper and pen.
Whenever you expressed yourself, people all around knew well that you would win.
You always spoke truth to life, in whatever you authored.
You were never at a loss for words, were never cornered.
Although you’ve moved on, beyond this Mundane plane, your name is still in tact & will remain.
You were such an inspiration for literary prowess; the world of writing will not ever be the same.
Not many have ever risen to the levels that you’ve attained.
Regardless of criticism, you carried on, and without shame.
I only hope that I may achieve the same success as someone of your stature.
There can be no doubt: you were definitely a true writing and poetic master.
On the night of June 4th & the early morning of June 5th, 2011, I participated in the annual “AFSP: Out of the Darkness Overnight” Anti-Suicide walk, in New York City. I didn’t even realize how important this walk that I had committed myself to was, until I actually got to the starting point of the walk, in Brooklyn. The walk hadn’t even started yet, and I was just jolted with anxiety & excitement, not knowing how this whole event would play out. There were all types of people there, at this walk, from all over the country & around the world. They were there to lend their support to put an end to Suicide, at all costs. However, there was one group of people who were not in attendance at this walk……it was us, the Muslims; we were nowhere to be found!!! It’s so ironic how something as prevalent & important an issue as Suicide, or this kind of walk, could possibly be the furthest thing from our agendas-It’s not something that we even think about, or are concerned about.
We are so pathetically distant from real issues in our society, like Suicide-I can say for myself, as an individual Muslim, that this walk is incredibly significant to my ability to be of better service to Allah, as His servant, as well as being of better service to my Human race. As Allah says, “From that which we’ve imposed upon the Children of Israel is the following: Whomever kills a person, whom has killed no one, nor has caused corruption within the Earth, it’s just as though they’ve killed killed all of Humanity. Yet, whomever saves them, it’s just as though they’ve saved all of Humanity.”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.5, V.32). It’s a proven fact that Suicide-Awareness indeed saves lives!!! There were so many people here, all for the same objective: to save people from making the mistake of taking their own lives. Even if only one person was saved because of this walk, it would be worth it.
This walk was absolutely amazing, to say the least!!! Every step on this this 18-mile journey was an excuse for me to reflect on this precious gift that Allah has given us called life. This walk was in fact a celebration of life itself; my fellow participants, from every part of this nation, all had individual & personal purposes for committing themselves to this walk, along with a valid narrative to boot. I had the awesome privilege of meeting & conversing with some of the most humane, amusing, and positive people you could ever find on the planet-Take actress/activist, Mariel Hemingway, for example, who lost 7 of her own family members to Suicide. In spite of her tremendous loss, she displayed such fortitude, that I very much admired her for. And, she shared her personal story of familial tragedy, with such an immense level of grace, honor & dignity; she’s also a strong advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide-Prevention as well, which is the organization that annually sponsors the “Out of the Darkness Overnight”.
During this walk however, I still felt isolated, alone, and disappointed. Everyone had a walking team, or at least family or friends to walk with, but I didn’t have anyone initially with me walking, nor a walking team; I was just by myself. I tried very hard to conceal my immense anger and disappointment at the Muslim-Community, our leadership & organizations particularly. I reached out to at least 5 major Muslim institutions of Islamic-Learning, Muslim advocacy groups, and leadership councils…..none of them showed the significant want, or care, to partake in this cause, or endorse me, or even help me to spread awareness about this walk. When I sent out e-mails to these institutions, groups, councils, and organizations, they didn’t even have enough courtesy to reply to me and say they were not interested-I received zero responses, from at least 98% of those whom I contacted. But, in spite of all of that, I made it my business to commit to this walk, and to do it by myself, because you know what they say: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”.
Honestly, there were in fact instances where I wanted to just quit this walk, because of lack of support for it, from my own community. However, after every mile, and after every check point/rest stop, and all in between, there were people, congratulating us for the miles that we had already walked and encouraging us to walk even more. These people, the AFSP staff, volunteers, family members of those who were running, family members of those who committed Suicide, all of them gave us so much encouragement to go on and finish this walk. It was so wonderful having them there to instill encouragement to complete our walk.
But, there’s one thing I can say, walking by one’s self does have its advantages-Whenever people would ask me as to who, what, or why I was walking, I had the splendid opportunity to express myself individually, as an individual Muslim. Everyone whom I had told that I was walking on behalf of the Muslim-Community were absolutely ecstatic, and I could see the surprise, and delight on their faces; they were shocked that a Muslim would even be there, and at the exact same time, they were so happy that a Muslim was there. For those whom I came in contact with, and told that I was representing the Muslim-Community, it was a good feeling for them to know that somewhere out there, at least one Muslim actually cares about this cause, and this may have been the very first time that many of them have even met a Muslim. But, it shouldn’t have been just be me who cares, it shouldn’t have been just me out there, all of us should care, and all of us should’ve been there!!!
Alas, it was just me out there, one Muslim, by himself, and even just as an individual, I made a positive impact on people that I came in contact with. Just imagine, if the Muslim-Community had a significant presence there? It would have been such a powerful Da`wah power-play, for people to know that we empathize with them, and want to be part of the solution to this major problem plaguing America. We all owe it to Allah, then to our fellow man, to be a part of this particular walk and movement, to put an end to Suicide. The grand involvement of the Muslim-Community in this walk would most definitely place a positive imprint on the minds & hearts of the people who would witness us there. It would be a tool that we could’ve used to help us clarify the negative stigmas about Muslims being inherently religiously violent, that serves as every-day slander in popular media upon our religion, as well as the general character of the Muslims.
When we’re seen participating more often at these types of events, promoting the general preservation of life, then it would turn the tides of how we’re viewed in America and across the world. Participation in a walk like this would place us in a different light, as caring individuals, who respect, honor and celebrate life. We must all make a more valiant effort to involve ourselves in the society that we live in, to paint a better image of Islam & Muslims, through our actions, as well as contributing to the general betterment of our society, by being of better service to the people.