The Lynching of Kalief Browder (and I’m going Public!)

I’ve decided to go public! ….with my thoughts. Having this site where people see lots of images of my work is great and with those images I also have this desire to write and share publicly in a part of cyberspace that I feel belongs to me. Today, June 10th 2015 is the first day of this blogging aspect of my website.  I’m motivated to write due to a lot of hope and some heart clenching emotions and deep sadness about Kalief Browder’s suicide on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

I don’t get to have a conversation with everyone who has the opportunity to look at my work online or in person, but, maybe this blog will do some of what a conversation seeks to accomplish.

Here I’ll speak more plainly.

Or, I might ramble on…

Sometimes you’ll just look at what I’m looking at and listen to what I’m listening to:

There is for me, something especially painful about the loss of this young man. The fact that he hung himself feels like only a technicality regarding his death. His death, his suicide is the result of deep trauma, our society’s lack of empathy, racism, and extreme injustice. We have seen many images of Black people, black men especially hung with a rope wrapped around their necks. We call those lynchings. We haven’t seen one exactly like this in a long time. I imagine that what Kalief Browder’s mother witnessed when she saw him hanging from a window in their home looked quite similar.

samcarterKalief Browder looks so familiar to me. His  suicide is especially tragic because it symbolizes a loss of hope, one for which Black people especially cling onto. We look at our own history and even our current situation and we wonder how we have held on to joy and even moreso, our humanity, dignity, kindness and love for one another (and even this country) in spite of the constant attacks on us by the oppressive system that oftentimes is stacked against us.

Yesterday I was listening to a program on NPR where a writer was talking about how Ghandi instructed Hindus to remain non-violent and commit suicide instead of fighting back. He said this would shame their oppressors. I don’t support suicide and I do not agree with non-violence at any cost. I do agree that what causes people under such duress to commit suicide points back to the oppressor and the traumatizing effect of  their oppression. They are blameworthy. Shame on them!

Shame on all the demonic system and all of its evil minions who caused this young man so much suffering.  Who paid him no mind when he suffered mental illness and punished him more for this, caused him to lose his mind and beat his body, and then finally lose hope. They wrapped a noose around his neck and pointed him to the tree. He was so traumatized,  mentally ill, burdened and heavy with sadness; that this weight coupled with the noose caused him to lose his life.

To see a young man like this lose hope and know that he must have felt that he had reached his limits… well, I am at a loss for words. Just sadness, anger, exhaustion, empathy, sympathy, a desire to hold and coddle him, I wish I could rock him back and forth and tell him that tomorrow will be better, he is stronger. God still loves him, he survived, and he will thrive again. Even moreso, I wish I could get him a plane ticket out of the hellish shit-hole that has become much of America for so many Black people and show him that the world is bigger, people are better, and there is a B-side to this scratched up record; a B-side that has not been listened to where the songs are slower and a little more experimental. I wish for people in such traumatic situation to be shown a better escape route. There is a route to freedom and the underground railroad still exists. Please search for allies. Search for answers and new routes to freedom. I don’t know what would have helped Kalief and I don’t blame himm for what he did. I just wish that no one else does. We have to get people out of the hell they are living in before it’s too late.

Please comfort one another.

When asked, “Who gives a fuck about your feelings?”, –  particularly the feelings of Black people suffering,  please say “I do!” 

2 thoughts on “The Lynching of Kalief Browder (and I’m going Public!)

  1. Wow Nsenga, I really am moved by your bitter honesty and raw emotion in this piece! Nothing but applause for your decision to share these thoughts with us. Thank you for taking the step and expressing what so many are probably feeling at this less than encouraging time in American history. The calendar reas 2015, but the mentality of this community is more like 1815.

    1. Thank you so much for reading this piece and commenting Camille. Six years later, and people still stumble an upon this blog entry and I’m glad the interest and advocacy on behalf of Kalief Browder continues. We should never let this one go.

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