Why I Wrote Strange Fruit (Class Of 2013)
I’m just not the type of person that can hear about tragedies that happen on our community and just keep it moving. When I first heard about the senseless murder of Renisha McBride, I couldn’t sleep. Here was another young Black person who was shot and killed after a car accident, just for trying to get help. Just weeks before in Charlotte, Jonathan Ferrell was killed by police when he ran to them after his accident. A few weeks before that I heard about Kendrick Johnson, who was found dead rolled up in a mat at his school. Instead of investigating Kendrick’s murder , the police said he committed suicide and closed the case.
As more information came out about these cases, I got even angrier. In the case of Renisha, first the police said her body was dumped, then they said it was found on the porch where she was killed. And even though Ted Wafer shot an unarmed 19 year old young women in the head with a shotgun, and didn’t call 911 until hours later, he was not arrested. He wasn’t even charged with a crime until a week later. In Jonathan’s case we found out he was shot 10 times by the police, even though he had no weapon.
The murder of Kendrick Johnson, and botched investigation is like a bad hollywood movie. Recently, when the high school released the video taken in the gym the day Kendrick was killed , it had clearly been tampered with. Kendrick as well as other students appear and disappear, like when footage is cut and pieced together. And the one camera pointed at the mats where Kendrick was found dead, is so blurry no faces can even be made out. Even stranger, when his body was recently exhumed to perform a second autopsy, all over his organs were missing and had been replaced by newspaper.
The constant devaluing of Black life has to stop. I began to write out of pure frustration. I knew what some people will say, which is why I started the song with the line, “they say Jasiri X you preach too much”. My frustration also comes from the fact that we put so much stock in celebrities, pundits, and rappers, who never seems to speak to the most important issues in our community. It’s not there fault, it’s our, because we don’t hold them accountable. Lastly, I chose to use the book, “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America” in the video, because if we can still be killed and be denied justice in 2013, what has really changed?
“12 Years A Slave, we still fighting for freedom, just look at the headlines, seeing is believing.”