What seems like an eternity ago I was wrapping up my first album. I wanted to shoot the CD artwork (this is back when people bought CD’s, you see) in my old neighborhood in Brookfield on the East side of Oakland. I was a budding young resistance oriented cat- and it was important to me and my crew that the artwork connected with the record have some type of meaning to it. The idea came up to have a theme where I was saying a message into the ear of a young boy and he then speak it into a bullhorn. The implied message for a record titled “spreadtheWORD” to be that I was passing a message on to be shared with a mass.
But who would the young boy be? I remember we were on a strict deadline to print and on a scramble to find the right kid. Then my homie asked, “Why does it have to be a boy?” We dove into a deep convo about gender and prejudice which was standard for us back then, and once we all landed on it being cool (and even dope(er)) for it to be a girl, I knew exactly who I wanted it to be.”Nubia”, I said. Nubia was a pretty little Black girl, her father was a close friend of mine, and she had a fresh steelo and power about herself even though she was only 7 or 8 years old.
Her and her blessed wonderful mother took the shoot so serious and it touched me. Nu (as we called her) showed up in perfect afro puffs crafted by her mother and her fathers smile. She was the perfect model for our vision.
I still have a picture of her from that day (above left) in a scrapbook. Click here to see the image of her and I that made the album.
But today I saw a picture of Nubia that doesn’t bring forth joy at all. Now 19 years old and just as beautiful- newspaper photos reveal a picture of Nubia after being unjustly beaten and tormented (above right) by Bart Police and Santa Rita Prison correctional officers. You can read and article on the ordeal here from the Post News Group: http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2014/04/25/girl-suspected-dancing-bart-arrested-assaulted-officer/
I urge all folks living in Oakland to stay connected with this story and support Nubia and her case as things develop.
I believe that part of the root of the inhumane treatment that Black people receive from law enforcement can be found in what that description implies;
That we are not human.
We are not seen as people who were once children. Inside of Nubia, who’s account of the attack on her 5’1/105lbs frame includes being slammed on the ground, kicked, and brutally beaten while in a restraint inside a holding cell- is the beautiful little girl smiling and skipping down the sidewalk the day of that photoshoot. My heart goes out to Nu and her family and I wish sound healing and justice for them as this comes to pass.
I know the fire that turns in your stomach when trying to be fair leads to being treated unfairly. When the walls close in and we have to be brave even when fright floods our nerves. Don’t let these rogues put even the slightest layer of callus over your heart. Remain joy. Remain unbridled happiness. Be even brighter tomorrow. Work to absorb the lessons without the trauma, the insight without becoming jaded. Think two times for every word you speak. Stand closer to those who truly love you and then lean into them. When the bright cameras, the rooms with wooden walls and suits, the other people hurt how you’ve been hurt, and the looker ons try to make this seem like a defining moment in your life, remind yourself that other peoples evil and ignorance and how they act upon you because of it will never impede on you. Neither them or their actions hold the spiritual prestige to be logged in your consciousness as defining. Their putrid act should be seen and felt in your view as incidental to all that you are and the grandness of all that you will do in this life.
Leap, jump, flip, and strive forward mama.
All the love.
Brother Ise M. Lyfe