Thursday, September 22, 2011

Didn't Hear About Troy Davis Before Yesterday? Get Over Yourself.

The tears, avid attention to the Democracy Now! broadcast and twitter sparring last night in the name of Troy Davis didn't stop the man from being executed at 11:08pm Wednesday evening. The hashtag #TroyDavis didn't wield powers to unlatch him from the gurney he lay to await word on whether he was going to be killed or not when his execution, originally set for 7pm was halted. Carefully explaining the details of his court case and his dire situation to my 8 year-old last night after she asked me why I was sad and angry both at once didn't somehow make everything magically turn-out to end on a happy note either. I mean, after all, it was just a day. Building awareness and changing people's minds about something as singularly significant as saving a man's life isn't supposed to happen in a day, right?

If you read any of the posts on social media tweets and Facebook posts, you'll likely hear the refrain that "Who was Troy Davis" or "Why ya'll only talking 'bout him now right before he dies." Every single one of these posts pissed me off, simply because, in this man's final hours, fools were frantically trying to rate his importance based on whether they had heard about him before. For, if they didn't know who he was, then he can't be that big of a deal, right? Wrong. Get over yourself.

Troy Davis hadn't been an item of importance for just a day. While many in the Twitter world had only heard of him yesterday, those on the front lines, paying attention to the emails from desperate relatives, the obscure online postings from frantic loved ones of the incarcerated and the like knew of Troy's story and the many others like him who are falsely accused, imprisoned or punished in extreme ways for simple infractions that don't usually warrant imprisonment.

We knew that Troy Davis' sister Martina has been on the front lines battling for her brother for years. Personally, I've received emails, seen Facebook posts and been in the loop since at least 2008 regarding his case and the others like him. I participated in a rally last year for two sisters incarcerated and doing hard time for a $16 crime and Troy Davis' name came up often and importantly with those there well aware of who he was. I've prayed and fellowshipped in groups rallying around him and shared what I've known with others who would be most likely to receive it and pass it on.

And, that's what I do. That's what the folks I follow online and typically hang with do, too. People like Sista Marpessa, a revolutionary who has mobilized movements online to protest and rally support offline and who I met while covering a story about the Scott sisters. People like the remarkable poet/rapper Spoken Word out of Virginia who is always on the frontlines whether to lend her talents to events that raise awareness about those issues most affecting people of color. Or, groups like One Common Unity that operate by a mission to gather and present programming that is always intended to educate, build awareness and infuse the arts into the common space.

My point is, is that Troy Davis' story wasn't an overnight media blitz that just came out of nowhere. People choosing alternative media options, and staying connected to groups and individuals who care about social justice issues makes a world of difference about what you hear about. If you are relying on the mainstream media to choose for you what is worth paying attention to, then you will forever be out of the loop and continuing to be reactionary to things that only come out and in your radar when the media decides it wants to boost its ratings. So, my simple advice is, you may want to get new friends or change the patterns in which you receive news. Because, if not, you may very well be in the dark when the next important movement hits, because, chances are, if it's something relevant and really important to the masses, it most likely won't be first seen on MTV.

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