on oscar grant: time for more questions than answers

dear readers,

when i talk to people in india about america, i don’t forget to tell them about how much state control and violence we bear.

a long series of police assasinations continues to unfurl across the united states. just as slavery morphed into imprisonment, hangings or lynchings have turned into government sanctioned public shootings.

these shootings, increasingly bold-generally aimed at the young, the black, the male-tend to galvanize a cross section of communities. activists, artists, targeted families and neighborhoods. there are press conferences, rallies, marches, riots even. most of this response will go under or un-reported.

but within the galvanized communities, a core group of community organizers will make the relevant police assasination their number one priority night and day. the organizers are on constant alert, aiming for almost military like tactical prowess, ready at the drop of a text to awake in the middle of the night and protect a march or confer a press conference. the dedication is commendable.

as of late, amongst organizers and their followers, ideological connections will be made, verbally and visually, between the most recently lynched and the oppression of palestine. while in law school at uc berkeley, i used to cringe at all the carbon copy yuppie bumper stickers declaring, “free tibet.” what rubs me the wrong way is the grabbing for a distant cause when there are freedom issues a few blocks down telegraph ave, not to mention the fact of contested sovereignty within the home, within the self.

why risk the obvious grab? it’s as though there are favorite teams being rooted for, but these teams are countries, causes to be thrown together like brands at the world cup. amongst my bay area connects, im seeing facebook profile pics of a poster showing oscar grant’s face with the words justice in oakland and palestine, justice for oscar grant and palestine. i wonder. to what end is this association being made? from where is the instinct to link local causes to palestine? palestine, out of all oppressed nations and peoples, almost exclusively.

perhaps, as the most tapped out consumers in the world, u.s. organizers are more programmed to brand than we are comfortable acknowledging. what happens to the social justice equation when we think of ourselves as branding causes, nations, people? an initial look might reveal trends in naming. who gets named individually and why, are intestering questions. what nations are elevated to name brands of the movement? what peoples or nations are rarely named, despite mass oppression?

this post is in the name of questioning, which is at times more important than answering. even for community organizers, who for personal and political reasons, feel compelled towards solution.

hats off to those working towards justice, for all.

roopa singh

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