Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend With Thomas And Darfur

This is the end of a great weekend hanging out with my younger brother, Thomas. We started on Thursday night and went full speed ahead until Sunday morning! Well, there was a break on Friday night. We stayed at home so that he can spend some time with the rest of the family. On Saturday we mostly played around the U St. corridor and 14th St. We hit the Mocha Hut and Cafe Nema. Our cousin, G Bess lives close by so we hung out a little at his place indulging in music and a few drinks. Overall, it was a great weekend. I haven't run that hard in a long time. Thanks bro, I had a great time! I love you man!

I dropped Thomas off at the airport around 8 am, went home and decided that I was going to attend the Save Darfur rally on the National Mall. It was really inspiring. For me, the highlight of the day is when a small group of Africans (They seem to be from the Darfur Region?) led a rallying chant through the crowd. I smiled and cheered them on wishing that I could join in. I didn't know what they were chanting because it was in their tongue. However, I was surprised at the reaction of the other supporters attending the rally (mostly Jewish). They became quiet during the chants as they glanced around at each other standing in the vicinity.

My thoughts on that moment:
Sometimes I think that blacks chanting in defiance can make some people really nervous. We're often viewed as militant when our voices are lifted in protest to something. This is why most of America preferred Martin Luther King, Jr.'s method of singing and quiet protest. Although effective, it didn't make the rest of America too too nervous. Oh, they were nervous, but they were absolutely frantic when it came to other groups that took a more heated approach in the fight for change.

Otherwise, I was happy to see the support no matter the color. I am convinced that most of the black community at large didn't know about the rally until they saw the evening news. There were posters up around town, but not many (if any) on the southside of town where most of the disenfranchised reside. Perhaps most would've still chosen to stay home, but I'm certain that some would have attended if they had knowledge of it. As for the rest of the community, churches should have adjusted their morning schedule and colleges should have showed up in astounding numbers. There were some black and brown faces at the rally, but the African/Africa American/Caribbean community should have showed more support. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as so different from our brothers and sisters in Sudan! If we would just take the time to look at the big picture we would find that we share in the same struggle.

We just chant in different tongues.

UPDATE: The refreshing thing about all of this is that the Reverend Gloria White Hammond, MD, an African American woman and Chairwoman of Million Voices is doing all that she can to get the word out about Darfur. She will be here in Washington D.C. this week. Click her name and learn more about this remarkable woman and her mission.

("...What we need is awareness, we can't get careless" --Public Enemy)
Click on the title of this post to find out how you can help. You can help even if you just buy a $10 tee shirt. It's worth it. Peace~

I'll post a few pictures of the rally when I get a moment.

22 comments:

the prisoner's wife said...

sounds like a lot of fun. i caught the Rally on TV (by chance). it seemed really inspiring. did you also happen to catch the special on CNN about "The End of AIDS"? Pres. Clinton was on there. I thought that it was really interesting that they held the special in a Harlem church. I was happy to see a VERY mixed crowd with lots of brown faces.

did you see it? what were your thoughts?

the prisoner's wife said...

"There were some black and brown faces at the rally, but the African/Africa American/Caribbean community should have showed more support. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as so different from our brothers and sisters in Sudan"

i noticed this while watching on TV. i had to look pretty hard to find black folks. when i started watching, a Jewish woman was speaking & she was giving shouts out to all of the Jewish temples that helped organize the event. i mean, that's cool...but i kept thinking, why aren't we standing up???

and furthermore, why was this event only showed on C-Span? i mean, who really watches C-Span? *lol*

Stephen Bess said...

prisoner's wife-
Good afternoon! I did not see the program on AIDS. Maybe they will run that again. I'll keep a eye out for it.

The media is very deliberate in their airing of the rally. If everyone was aware (and everyone is not) of what was taking place in Darfur then Bush's approval rating would sink in the negatives. As a matter of fact, it probably already sunk, but the media is, once again, in control of what we see and hear until we investigate for ourselves. Thanks!

faith said...

You know, I did not hear one thing about that rally. I do not have cable, but it was not even mentioned, that I saw, in the St Paul Paper at all. That is really sad. The entire devestation that is going on in Dafur is sickening, and that so many of our "world leaders" are just ignoring it boils my blood! There are so many thousands and thousands of innocent people that are being brutally murdered and torchured... how can the "world leaders" just sit by and ignore it? If I had any power, I would not ignore it. If I knew of a rally, here in MN, I would attend. I granted cannot do much, per I have NO monies to donate, and no power to do anything about it, but I can and do speak out about it. I make people aware of what is going on. I think that is about all I can do, but it is more than our "world leaders" are doing... and that is a tradegy in its self.

faith said...

I am glad you had a good time with your brother this weekend though! I love hanging with the fam!

sabbath day's journey said...

Glad you had such a good time with your brother. Gotta love that bond.

I'm also glad you went to the Save Dafur rally. I think we grow through experiences like these and we reflect on things that change our actions and therefore our lives for the better. Not to mention the lives of others. I think we could easily hang out; the places you go seem to be places I'd go too.

It's been over a week since the surgery and I am up and at 'em! Feeling really well. Hope you're off to a good start to your week.

peace,
Michele

Stephen Bess said...

faith-
That's right! We have the power to speak out against it even if it's from one person to the next. I recently got this activist bug in the last couple of years. I hope to rally for more good causes in years to come while I'm still here in my hometown of DC. I want to take it to the human level one day and not just rights for certain groups. That's going to take prayer and education. Thanks as always.
By the way, I really had a good time with my bro. He's one of my best friends.

Stephen Bess said...

michele-
Hello! I'm happy to hear that your recovery has gone well. That's great! Yes, my moment at the rally was interesting and educational. I was really impressed by the turn out and support. Yeah, we could definitely hang. You would've really liked the rally. I hope that all is well with you and your family. Blessings~

Sumeeta said...

It struck me that you noted that many African-Americans were not at the rally. I always wondered why there was such a separation between African-Americans and Africans.

Sadly, I heard nothing about the Darfur rally so it was nice to read about it from the perspective of someone who was actually there.

I hope that you had a good time with your brother.

Ruminations of a Racial Realist said...

Sometimes I think that chanting blacks can make some people really nervous. We're often viewed as militant when our voices are lifted in protest to something. This is why most of America preferred Martin Luther King, Jr.'s method of singing and quiet protest. Although effective, it didn't make the rest of America too too nervous.

I always find it interesting that at the end of the day, despite King's "softly softly approach", it didn't prevent him getting assasinated...so he was clearly threatening...My theory is that when a black leader starts making a real impact on white public opinion, that's when they are really threatening to the status quo...that's why people like Farakhan haven't been assasinated - because white people generally aren't interested in what he has to say. Also, i find it interesting that Malcolm X was murdered when he started to "tone down" his approach and was more accepting of white people...I'll have to explore this issue in one of my posts. lol

Stephen Bess said...

Sumeeta-
I think that language plays a significant role in that separation. The opened minded black people that I've met on either side (African, American, Caribbean, and Latino) always note the similarities. As a matter of fact, they are usually amazed at what we share. This is because each culture (quickly eroding) has retained some of it's character from the African past. People who are either unexposed to other people and culture or closed minded tend to shy away if the other doesn't share there experience. That's been my observation. It's the "YOU'RE NOT LIKE ME" syndrome.
I had a great time with my brother. Thanks. :)

Stephen Bess said...

racial realist-
That would make an interesting post. I've never thought of it in that context. Yes, they got rid of X as soon as he decided that he wanted to join forces with MLK. Together, they would've had a tremendous impact. I've always tried to imagine Malcolm X in a march on Selma or some other demonstration in the 60's. I look forward to reading what you come up with.

Brother Jero (BJ) said...

Good way to spend a weekend. hope all else is fine brotha.

Holler.

Bougie Black Boy said...

EXCELLENT write-up. . . I agree with you about blk folk getting together and how it is perceived by society when our voices become ONE. We are perceived as radical or militant. However if other races do it, it's perceived as just a protest. Too often have I heard "he/she is a militant blk person". But what's so militant about being outspoken, progressive and stating what you believe in?

jasai said...

So glad you got to attend. I am hoping a rally makes its way west. My heart is broken at the blatant disconnect that seems to exist between here (america) and there. Hopefully we will begin to close the gap.

Stephen Bess said...

bj-
What's up! All is well brotha. I'll be up.

sej-
Thanks for that comment. You broke it down for me and the readers.

jasai-
It would be so nice if we could just close that gap! I thank God that there are at least cracks so that some of us can make that connection.

NML said...

It's great that you live somewhere where you can attend a rally like that and drive change. I don't think we've had any rally's here for it in London but I shall keep a lookout. I like the pic btw.

Stephen Bess said...

nml-
That is the advantage of living in D.C. There's always a demonstration somewhere. lol
I've been trying to become more active over the past year. Yeah, the pic is one that I took of my younger brother. He's an artist in Atlanta.

tryphina said...

Great post Stephen.

"For me, the highlight of the day is when a small group of Africans (They seem to be from the Darfur Region?) led a rallying chant through the crowd. I smiled and cheered them on wishing that I could join in. I didn't know what they were chanting because it was in their tongue"

Language is the very fabric of a race, that's why the slavemasters eradicated the language of our people.

"However, I was surprised at the reaction of the other supporters attending the rally (mostly Jewish). They became quiet during the chants as they glanced around at each other standing in the vicinity"

This was an experience in voice of unity 101 for those who at the time may have perceived themselves as either superior or inferior...you make your choice :)

"Sometimes I think that blacks chanting in defiance can make some people really nervous. We're often viewed as militant when our voices are lifted in protest to something"

It is really amazing to experience what a voice of unity can do to those who perhaps perceive themselves as saviours.

Dear Oppressor, wait, listen to the voice of reason!!! Why are you afraid? Why are you tonque-tied?
I do acknowledge and appreciate everyone's contribution toward a great course.

Thank you again Stephen, for getting me all bent out of shape!! It's therapeutic though :)

Stunuh Jay said...

Spelling errors.... My strong fort, forgice me!

We are unable to stand for ourselves. These shoes we wear are not of our making, not to our liking. See, how we wobble so? See, how each step is as precarious as the next? Unless we can don our own clothes and our own shoes, then can we stand up and raise our heads. Then can we stand up and raise our voices, one with the earth. Then can we shout for the justice that is due us. For our mothers and our sisters. For the sons and the daughters. For the fathers. Then can we stand witness for the forgotten and the silent. For Africa, the sleeping Giant.

Stephen Bess said...

tryphina-
You never cease to amaze. Some people just don't know how much of a grassroots soldier you are. God bless you!

stunuh jay-
That is so well said that I don't know to respond. :)Thank you!

tryphina said...

stunuh jay, it's about time we write, and tell our own story!! speak, speak!!!!!!!!!!