By Amelia Royko Maurer — The great Black American leaders of our past are lauded for boldly confronting the American horror of white supremacy, but there is another critical piece that has effectively immortalized them. Their legacies have informed and empowered subsequent generations of great thinkers and leaders. This too serves as a measure of their monumental impact.
The Black American leaders of today demonstrate their own brilliance and skill creating and executing strategies that bring new analysis and transformation to this country’s inequities in ways unparalleled by any other force in this nation.
There is hope for Madison, Wisconsin in this regard. Change is being guided by the minds and born by shoulders of local Black activists of this caliber. Their leadership transcends gender, color and uniform because the brand of equity stemming from their work is the result of a deep and righteous belief that all individuals deserve to have their basic human rights upheld, their full potential explored and their fundamental needs met — Black humans too.
Brandi Grayson of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition (YGB) is one such leader. While benefiting my White daughter was never the impetus of my support for Brandi’s work, she still benefits by default. Brandi’s sustained liberation is bound up in the sustained liberation of all those in her community. This being true has only reinforced for me how much more sustainable and far reaching Brandi’s notion of equity is than anything I have ever experienced. This is true because her brand of equity is rooted in love: love of self, love of her people, and love of humanity.
Love will prevail for it surpasses all horizons and so will Brandi Grayson.
Her work is rooted in love and how that love is distributed is based on need. This makes sense if what one is aiming for is a truly equitable society. Brandi explained this manual shifting of power and resources to my daughter and I during a YGB teach-in. What I took away from that experience was gratitude for learning how to contribute to solutions in a way that actually stems from the knowledge of those experiencing the problems.
We learned how to care for our greater community in a way that actually feels like caring to them; I can’t think of a more valuable skill to pass on to my daughter.
What’s more, it feels good to participate in a system so intelligent that it doesn’t have to exploit people to thrive. Brandi is, quite literally, at the heart of that system and that system has worked its way on a one way ticket into the hearts of so very many of us happy to do whatever is necessary so that #blacklivesmatter, not more, not only, but TOO.
FEAR OF JUSTICE
The fact that this equitable system requires a manual shift in power frightens the fattest stakeholders of that power, and fear-fueled power is the greatest enemy of a truly equitable system. In Madison, this fright for the Madison Police Department is manifesting as officers continuing to maintain a close and unnecessary presence in Brandi Grayson’s life after she has clearly stated louder than most anyone else in the city that she does not want police around her unless she calls or there is an emergency. Seems like a reasonable request to make to “emergency services”.
Not only have MPD officers chosen to make surprise, uninvited ticket deliveries to her home but, they have contacted her at her workplace and continue to park outside of her home “because it seems like a good place to be” despite the fact that there isn’t much else to see on her block besides her home. It’s one of only two on a wooded cul-de-sac.
What other language must be used for MPD officers to understand that ignoring Brandi’s request for privacy, barring an emergency, feels akin to stalking because it is.
In this day and age, outspoken Black female activists have died after prolonged exposure to police power. Brandi would be foolish not to remember Sandra Bland every time she is watched, pulled over, or questioned.
If that language feels inflammatory, well, where do you live?
No means no.
I urge Madison Police Department’s Chief Koval (MKoval@cityofmadison.com) to step out of the ring long enough to see that he doesn’t need to fight those most harmed to have power.
I encourage him to notice how unwise it is to continue his pattern and practice of excuses for this pattern and practice of abusive and unwanted contact with a person who has made it clear that police presence in her life, baring emergencies, feels and therefore is harmful to her.
I implore him to acknowledge the vast support for Brandi Grayson’s leadership, the rapidly growing Black Lives Matter movement and most importantly, the indestructible, abundant nature of the love rooted in and surrounding both.
Love. It doesn’t need to recruit, it gains new adherents on merit alone and it’s never too late to join up.