by Taja Cheek

Taja Cheek is a musician and curator born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.


Yesterday, after marching from Foley to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge (which we shut down), and then back to Manhattan (shutting down the Manhattan bridge on the way), we passed by a jail. We looked up to see floors and floors (and still more floors) of silhouettes of men, banging relentlessly on the windows and flickering lights to make sure we knew they were protesting with us, alone together in their cells. The building towered so tall above us that I could barely see the silhouettes on the highest floors. I've seen some ungodly things in my short time here on earth, but that was one of the most horrifying things I have seen in a long time. I cannot un-see it. 

In fact, I have always seen it. The unbearable truth is that I would be hard pressed to find a black (/brown) American family that has not been traumatized by the Prison Industrial Complex. Some more distantly than others, but traumatized still. In 2014, like in 1968, like in 1619, lynchings precede due process. Lynchings continue to taint due process. Lynchings, lynchings and more lynchings override due process. 

If you have never protested before, I invite, urge, and demand that you bring your body to the protest next Saturday, December 13. Sacrifice something you have in your calendar. Skip your date. Don't go to dinner. Miss a concert. If you can swing it, don't go to work. Acknowledge that there are many of us that make sacrifices (or are sacrificed) every single day-- even the most blessed and privileged brown bodies amongst us. 

#BlackLivesMatter protest, New York City, December 2014

#BlackLivesMatter protest, New York City, December 2014

If you have never protested before, GO. NEXT. SATURDAY. You will have fun. Fun is okay! (And all the more necessary in trying times). When you go, be sure to shout loud, but listen "louder". March fiercely, but follow behind the families. Feel really uncomfortable. Don't pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge that revolution is not a one-time event. Join a network of like-minded folks. Plug into Cop Watch NYC and The New York City Anti-Violence Project. Learn the names of Kandy Hall, Zoraida Reyes, Yaz'min Shancez, Tiff Edwards, Mia Henderson, Alejandra Leos and Tata Sanchez in addition to the countless cis fe/males that were murdered at the hands of police. Learn what it means to truly be an ally. Even seasoned protestors (and I definitely don't count myself among them) learn all the time.