Eleanor Bumpurs and Breonna Taylor, together, haunt the United States. #SayHerName

                                                               Eleanor Bumpurs

This week, with evictions and even more the threat of evictions rising across the United States; with police violence spreading and intensifying, especially in communities of color; with police home invasions, as happened to Breonna Taylor, spreading with impunity; with a national election; we must discuss Eleanor Bumpurs. On November 4, 1984, Eleanor Bumpurs was laid to rest. Soon after Eleanor Bumper’s death, her daughter, Mary Bumpurs, would begin a lifetime of Black feminist social justice organizing in her mother’s name. In 1989, Spike Lee dedicated his film Do The Right Thing to six victims, six martyrs, of police brutality and racist violence: Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Griffith, Arthur Miller, Jr., Edmund Perry, Yvonne Smallwood, and Michael Stewart. Two weeks ago, on Saturday, October 17, the families of Eleanor Bumpurs and of Breonna Taylor joined together to lead a State of Emergency Get Out The Vote Rally in New York. At that rally, Eleanor Bumpurs’ granddaughter, also named Eleanor, asked, “When does it stop? When we do become somebody that somebody thinks about?” Eleanor Bumpurs.  Breonna Taylor. #SayHerName

Eleanor Bumpurs came to national attention on October 29, 1984. Here’s how Patricia Williams told the story, in 1987: “On October 29, 1984, Eleanor Bumpurs, a 270-pound, arthritic, sixty-seven-year old woman, was shot to death while resisting eviction from her apartment in the Bronx. She was $98.85, or one month, behind in her rent.’ New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward described the struggle preceding her demise as involving two officers with plastic shields, one officer with a restraining hook, another officer with a shotgun, and at least one supervising officer. All of the officers also carried service revolvers. According to Commissioner Ward, during the course of the attempted eviction Mrs. Bumpurs escaped from the restraining hook twice and wielded a knife that Commissioner Ward says was “bent” on one of the plastic shields. At some point, Officer Stephen Sullivan, the officer positioned farthest away from her, aimed and fired his shotgun. It is alleged that the blast removed half of her hand, so that, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, `[I]t was anatomically impossible for her to hold the knife.’ The officer pumped his gun and shot again, making his mark completely the second time around.” Sullivan was later charged with manslaughter. The court dismissed the case, finding the evidence “legally insufficient”. After the ruling, Sullivan described himself as “ecstatic”. When asked if, given the same circumstances and hindsight, would he do the same thing, Sullivan answered, “Yes, I would.” Yes, he would. So would his descendants. Ask the family and friends of Breonna Taylor.

Eleanor Bumpurs led a full life, full of laughter, sorrow, insight and more. Eleanor Bumpurs’ daughter, Mary Bumpurs, knew that and refused to let her mother be reduced to a victim of police violence. She sued the City and won, but more importantly, she went on to organize, for decades, in the name of the Disappeared of the United States: Black mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, strangers become kin. As LeShawn Harris recently noted, “When her mother died, a community activist was born.”

In 1986, Audre Lorde wrote “For the Record: In memory of Eleanor Bumpers

“For the Record 
In memory of Eleanor Bumpers

Call out the colored girls
and the ones who call themselves Black
and the ones who hate the word nigger
and the ones who are very pale

Who will count the big fleshy women
the grandmother weighing 22 stone
with the rusty braids
and gap-toothed scowl
who wasn’t afraid of Armageddon
the first shotgun blast tore her right arm off
the one with the butcher knife
the second blew out her heart
through the back of her chest
and I am going to keep writing it down
how they carried her body out of the house
dress torn up around her waist
uncovered
past tenants and the neighborhood children
a mountain of Black Woman
and I am going to keep telling this
if it kills me
and it might in ways I am
learning

The next day Indira Gandhi
was shot down in her garden
and I wonder what these two 67-year old
colored girls
are saying to each other now
planning their return
and they weren’t even
sisters.”

When, in 2020, the family of Breonna Taylor joins with the family of Eleanor Bumpurs and declares that justice shall prevail, shall persist, through the current state of emergency, Eleanor Bumpurs and Breonna Taylor are busy planning their return … and they were sisters. Eleanor Bumpurs. #SayHerName #BreonnaTaylor #SayHerName

 

(Photo credit: Souls)

 

Hot and Spicy Extra Crispy

Hot and Spicy Extra Crispy

This is how the world ends
Not with a whisper but with a bang!

Of a gavel on the Supreme Court 
Or in a grand jury judgement for the killers of 
Breonna Taylor

With gas Guns in state designated Anarchy zones
BAM!
Were Americans protest peacefully — and otherwise for justice
BAM!
With the slamming of the doors of 
Bed Bath and Beyond
BAM!
Because apparently even e-commerce can’t  support
Brick and mortar capitalism during a plague
BAM!
With apologies to Emeril Legasse
The world is suddenly getting too hot and spicy
And the fires are making everything extra crispy.

Amy Coney Barrett,
What Black Clad Aunt 
Her moment come at last 
Slouches towards the Supreme Court bench
Moving us closer to Gilead.

(Image Credit: ABC News)

There are no karens, it’s just the police.

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep.
Apart of me feels like I must be your Black feminist killjoy today. 
I know humor sustains us. 
I know how we feel about joy. 
But, I must be your Black feminist killjoy today if its gets us closer to naming the truth as it is. 

I know I am alive because of the level of rage I feel right now. Principled raged I must say. The type of rage I can locate to the most insidious aspects of society. Rage inherited by my foremothers. Rage given to me by June Jordan. I am in a state of rage because I am witnessing a global pandemic aided and abetted by white supremacist- capitalist- imperialist- patriarchy.  

I am in a state of rage because I have to add more names to my memory this week.

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people.

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

 

I say these names again and again and again. When I have to utter the names of Black people murdered by the police, or any other act of violence, I do not have space for “karen.” 

Yale Phd student, Yasmina Price asked us “how do we manage mourning and mockery so close together?” 

Mockery doesn’t relieve my grief anymore. 

Because karen is just useless mockery. 
Because karen provides white women with an other.
Because karen obscures the way white womanhood was constructed and how it functions.
Because karen is just white supremacist patriarchy. 

Many of us have been where Christian Cooper was as some white woman pretended to be in danger. amy cooper did not just weaponize whiteness, she always weaponized her womanhood. She is another white woman who was taught to cry to get her way, taught that her very being would elicit the world to protect her. Taught how to perform fear and mockery simultaneously. Even in her attempt to harm Christian Cooper the world still wants to protect amy because the world wants to protect white women. When you trace the grace, tenderness, and protection she is where is always goes.

Some of you are meeting these white women with mockery by calling them karens. June Jordan teaches us to remain “hostile to hostility” and for that I am a Black feminist killjoy today.

Beyond that, as someone who practices abolition as faith and as a love politic, I feel it imperative to tell you that amy cooper did not just call the police, but rather, she is the police. She is a death practitioner. Her job is to keep Black people close to death by making the world believe her very life depends on it.

white people will always feel empowered to punishment and surveillance. They will always feel empowered to be judge and jury in and beyond the court room. white supremacy grants them these powers. Always. 

white women will always understand and use their power to police Black people and if that doesn’t work, they always have their tears. The tears that move the police. 

Frank Wilderson teaches us that “white people in their very corporeality are the police.” And what we are naming as karen behavior is just another reason why we must abolish the police.

We don’t have to rename this practice. We already know what it is. 

So what is the point of this mockery? What work does the naming of karen do? What is the price we pay for mockery? 

Its 6am now. I have mourned enough today. I wonder who I’ll mourn tomorrow. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

Nina Pop
Breonna Taylor 
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Christian Cooper
And so many more unknown and unnamed Black people. 

(Photo Credit: Tim Gruber / The Washington Post)