Would someone please walk with me and ease my fears of fighting giants amused by the sight of my teeth eating dirt? My first experience of Philly left my legs in a sprint running away from a specific street intersection because it occurred to me that there stands land that will never be mine, that will never be ours. Hell burns where one of Philly’s most famous attraction, Geno’s, yells “go back home, this is my country” from its steel belly. How can this be? People with power still think that there’s something wrong with shackles not grabbing my ankles. You are still a nigger, politically.
Even as an outsider I can see that one court case divides Philly like its 1861; the civil war never ended it here. The names Mumia Abu Jamal and Daniel Faulkner title the city’s union and confederate nation and the beef grills on 500 degrees. In 1982 Abu Jamal was convicted of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner. The story told changes by regions of the city, but really changes primarily by skin color. Neighborhoods of North Philly cry Free Mumia as they are the designated zones for blackness. But my feet go the other way… While I’m ordering a cheese steak at Geno’s, tell me why I see the scariest sign I ever seen since the “colored” signs in text books. At the South Philly restaurant Geno’s, I peep a sticker with a picture of Faulkner that reads “We honor his memory: Officer Daniel Faulkner murdered by Mumia Abu”.
As a believer of Abu’s wrongful imprisonment, the sticker formed a “whites only” sign. Symbolic meaning leaks from the sticker because it represents the most horrific form of the black experience. Our backs remember what bull whips feel like in jail cells filled with innocent black bodies. Bullets responsible for Faulkner’s death were different from Abu’s gun. There were countless witnesses of the incident and a confession from the actual shooter, yet Abu has been on death row for over two decades. So what does Geno’s really honor? The message becomes clearer as I sit at a table with a whole bunch of pictures of Joey Vento, founder of the restaurant, wearing a vest and cap with the confederate flag. Reasons why I should be a slave again are coming back, I thought. So I ran, found my way back to North Philly, because I could not let them take my freedom away.
American government silenced arguments of small brains in Africa and gave us Brown vs Board of Education and Civil Rights amendments, but allow the use of racist ideas and strategies for new age enslavement and genocide via imprisonment. We still don’t make sense in democracy as we still have to ask for humanity. So I challenge youth to fear as I have but to never be cowards and make sense of the word political. Help me think of ways to change how the government chills on the subject of free speech when it validates the same type of thinking that has left us without a history and culture. Help us not be niggers…