author – activist – faculty – mom
I haven’t written a monologue since I retired from theater over a decade ago. But this piece came to me in the voice of an older crotchety black man, a Redd Foxx type character. It’s almost as if—given the painful nature of some of the recent national news—that I needed to inhabit someone else’s voice to speak about it, although I do end with a poem…
You know, thangs have changed. When I was a kid, wasn’t no black people into science fiction. When I was a kid, if you liked science fiction, you kept your mouth shut. Or if you lived someplace integrated you had white friends, or no friends. (Shakes head) but my grandson? He got a black sci fi crew. They skateboard around together. When I was a kid, black kids didn’t do that either. Even they little girlfriends got skateboards. Black kids going skiing and shit.
See, white people was writing science fiction back when I was a kid, and they didn’t imagine black people was gon survive to the future. Well maybe one black person. Nichelle Nichols—you know who I mean. Lt. Uhura from Star Trek. That sista was fine as hell. Them TV executives learned what I already knew. Without black women, it ain’t no future. And you know who she look like? Come on, just guess. Take a guess…
That’s right! She look dead on like Beyonce. I don’t think that’s a mistake. Of course Beyonce would be on the starship enterprise. Beyonce is immortal, motherfuckers. Good black really don’t crack.
This science fiction was just for white people, back in the day. But now black folks be getting into it, like I wanna be immortal, too. They call it Afro-futurism now. Black people in the future. Latinos in the future. Seriously, though, when I was a kid, that sci fi was white boy shit. Technology. Black people wasn’t all up the technology. You know what else was different? When we got our asses kicked by the police, it was a private event. Wasn’t no video.
That changed with Rodney king. And back then, it wasn’t no cell phones. The chances of somebody having a video camera when the cops was beatin yo ass was like a billion to one. A trillion to one. Because didn’t nobody have video cameras, but the cops was beating black asses right and left. In fact, when they caught it on video, that felt like some science fiction “Scotty, there’s a black man getting his ass kicked. Beam me a video camera. No, I don’t know where I am. It was a long-ass car chase. Just lock on my coordinates, okay.”
And black people saw the video, and we was pissed, you know. So enraged. But we was also rejoicing. We bout to convict some motherfuckers now! See, before this we never had the evidence. But now we had the video. Seeing is believing. A picture is worth a thousand words. Guilty verdict here we come!
And then that Simi Valley jury said not guilty. And we learned that the problem wasn’t lack of evidence. We didn’t lack no evidence. We lacked a country with a conscience, that’s what we fucking lacked.
Nowadays we got cell phones. People get their asses beat by the cops and there’s ten videos. But then motherfuckers be like, but the angle of the video. Certainly we might be able to see something else if the video was covering another angle.
Right, because it seems like we have a black man on the ground. A black woman who has already been subdued by the police. Face down on the pavement. Hands cuffed behind her back. Both his hands up, talking bout don’t shoot.
How you know they only got two hands?
I see this thin dark line. You think that’s the headphone cord from his phone. No motherfuckers that’s a third arm with an automatic weapon outside the frame. You see this other video, this brother face down on the pavement. You see that line near his leg? You think that’s a line in the cement sidewalk? No fool, that’s another leg. Another leg with a giant-ass boot the size of a car, ready to stomp this police officer
You see? These magical negroes done got up in some sci fi. The camera never has enough angles.
magical negro shot reaching for requested document
couldn’t levitate license into his hand without reaching into pocket
our dark magic turns skittles & air to armaments
blackness itself as weapon
we never unarmed
editing thanks to Shailja Patel
Thanks also to Mona Webb for inspiration…