Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Artist to Watch: Michael Uzowuru

From Huffington Post

Artist to Watch: Michael Uzowuru by Kitty Cash

"The tragedy of black men and women being killed by police weighs heavy on my heart and mind. The repetition of tragedy that my community endures is painful, and to live with the reality that our lives are being valued less and that our stories are unable to be told is devastating. Our lives do not deserve to be cut short, especially at the hands of those who swore to protect and to serve.

In the midst of the catastrophe of Ferguson and the non-indictment decision of the police officer who killed Eric Garner, I'm reminded of my own haunting experience with police. When I was 19, I was wrongfully and brutally assaulted by a police officer. Being profiled and assumed to be something that you're not -- a threat to society -- based on the color of skin is something that nearly every black person experiences in their lifetime. I did nothing wrong and was undeserving of being assaulted, and the realization that my life could have easily ended that day is one that haunts me. If I had been killed that day, if mercy was not ultimately shown to me, my story would never have had the opportunity to be told. And I can't stand the thought of that.

So many stories aren't given the chance to be told. We will never hear Mike Brown's account of what happened, we will never hear Eric Garner, or 12-year-old Tamir Rice, or Aiyana Jones, or Rekia Boyd relive their assaults. Instead, they lost their lives and their murders were turned into ethical and political debates. Their stories, in their own voices, will never be heard. It amazes me that I feel fortunate that my life did not end, and that I can tell my story. It is incredible, in the worst way, to realize that surviving an encounter with the police is considered to be a fortunate experience. There's a major problem with that.

When I began writing this, I wasn't quite sure what the purpose of this was supposed to be. I felt compelled to write and express myself. The further along I got, the more I understood what it was that I was trying to say. My ideas evolved; they grew to be less centered around myself and more about us. I hope more of my sisters and brothers lives can be lived and I hope that our stories are no longer silenced. I know that when given the chance to fully blossom into who we are meant to be, to define, and redefine, who we are, we thrive.

Through strength, we have power. Our inspiration has long come from sources of pain, and we have always translated that energy in creative and inspiring ways. The spirit of those we have lost is never far from us. Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and a painfully long list of other black men and women who've been killed by police, did not die in vain. I refuse to let their deaths be reduced to that, and I will continually dedicate myself and my energy to dismantling the very things that kill us. My story, and your story, is able to be heard. Loudly, confidently, proudly--no one can silence us anymore."    Michael Uzowuru

Read the full story here


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