Thank you to Crystal Belle and the organizers of the Trayvon Martin Effect Conference at Teachers College for this weekend’s events and for inviting me to attend!
What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?
—Audre Lorde, Sister Ousider, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
The stories that I am telling here all began with the image that you see above of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Emmett Till. When I pieced the images together, all I could hear in my head were the words of Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth from their 1992 album featuring T.R.O.Y./They Reminisce Over You, dedicated to their friend Troy Dixon. It’s the end of the first verse and C.L. Smooth’s last two bars that propels the stories that hits what I think is at stake when we let everyone know that we refuse to forget Trayvon or Jordan or Emmett or any black boy:
Déjà vu, Tell You What I’m Gonna Do
When They Reminisce Over You, My God!
It is the way that CL Smooth hits that last bar, the way he uses sound of his voice to achieve the emphasis he wants to make. He is making a promise to the world that the weight and impact of this death, via the reminiscence, will be felt for generations to come… because you see, for me, that weight and that re-remembering is exactly what I think schools quite actively and deliberately keep us from doing.