Dear friends and supporters,
Today is Ramarley Graham’s 24th birthday, Or–it would have been–if on Feb 2, 2012, the NYPD had not trailed Ramarley (an unarmed teenager), broke down the door to his house, and shot him at close range in the chest, killing him–in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother.
I hope you will take a moment to read the article I wrote for Colorlines (with Amy Myers, intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights) about Ramarley, how he was killed, and the family’s struggle for some modicum of justice.
Excerpt of the article (published today in Colorlines) is below, and you can also read it here.
As always, thoughts, questions, responses are welcomed.
In solidarity with all who have lost a loved one to police violence,
1 Teen, 6 Cops, 1 Bullet and 5 Years of a Black Family Screaming for Justice
by Jen Marlowe and Amy Myers
A few months before his big brother, Ramarley Graham, was shot to death by a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, 6-year-old Chinnor Campbell was being bullied in school. His 18-year-old brother showed him how to put up his hands to defend himself and demonstrated how to punch using a pillow. “You’ve got to fight back, or people will keep bullying you,” Ramarley coached.
Their mother, Constance Malcolm, says these lessons were typical of their relationship: “Ramarley would take him to the park, pick him up from school, just do what a big brother would do with his little brother.”
Chinnor didn’t have his big brother’s guidance for much longer. On February 2, 2012, a White NYPD officer named Richard Haste entered Graham’s Bronx apartment and fired a fatal shot into his chest. He was only feet away, as was their maternal grandmother, Patricia Hartley.
Graham would be turning 24 today (April 12) if Haste and his colleagues had not followed him home from a bodega they were surveilling, kicked in the door and fatally shot him.
Read the rest of the article here
Dear friends and supporters,
During these first weeks of the Trump presidency I am reminded, more than ever, of the importance of resistance that is grounded in the values I hold most dear. Community. Equity. Love. Human Dignity. Freedom. Justice.
This short video embodies those values:
The video shows scenes from my play about the police killing of a Palestinian teenager interspersed with the reactions of audience members at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, drawing parallels between structures of oppression in Israel and here in the U.S.–and linking the struggles for liberation and equality.
The connections revealed in the video are profound. The sense of possibility expressed in communal joint struggle is deeply inspiring. This inspiration is reflected in the words that audience members called out after post-play discussions:
I hope you will take a moment to watch–and share! I would love to hear your responses if you do!
[Donkeysaddle Projects is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Donkeysaddle Projects must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.}
Below, please find a blog post that I wrote for Hedgebrook, a phenomenal women’s writing residency and community of women writers that I have been a part of since 2010.
Activism, movement building, and fighting structural inequality
The play ended and my colleague Carlton Mackey (founder of 50 Shades of Black) invited the audience to share one-word reflections on their experiences. The students at Bowie State University, an historically Black institution in Bowie, MD sat in silence for several moments before their words came pouring out:
The play, called There Is A Field, tells the story of a 17-year old boy who had been killed by the police.
But it was not situated in America. The play was about Aseel Asleh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was killed by Israeli police on October 2, 2000, one of 12 unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel killed by Israeli security forces at the start of the Second Intifada.
Read the rest here.
There has been a lot of pain in the last weeks. Between fatal attacks in Baghdad and Istanbul, the massacre of predominantly Latinx and Black Queer folks in Orlando, and the recent murders of two young, Black lives by agents of the state…it has been difficult to keep going, let alone to hold space for everyone who is suffering, everyone who is experiencing repression, everyone who is in pain.
I’m asking you to take a moment to learn about, and hold space for, those suffering in the tiny Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, where my friend Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights defender, was re-arrested a month ago because of his audacity to Tweet criticism of the regime. If found guilty, Nabeel could spend up to 13 years in prison.
The U.S. and the U.K–who enable the Bahraini regime–hold direct responsibility.
I hope you will read my op-ed (in the Huffington Post), and consider the connections between the pain of Nabeel and his family to the pain of all those experiencing–and resisting–injustice, all over.
“Baba, sumoud!” (“Daddy, stay steadfast!”)
Ten-year old Malak Rajab called out these words as Bahraini police led her father, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, from his home to waiting police vehicles in July 2012. His crime: insulting the Prime Minister in a tweet.
I filmed Rajab and his young daughter in their front yard from the upstairs window of their house; I had to film clandestinely, as I had entered the country under false pretenses—Bahrain was denying entry to nearly all journalists and human rights defenders. But I captured the girl’s defiant resistance as she trailed after the police who had her father in tow. Later that day, I witnessed her fear as the reality settled in: she did not know when her father would come home.
Read the rest HERE
In solidarity and in struggle,
This morning. Learned that another COPINH activist, a colleague of Berta Caceres, was found murdered in Honduras.
Last night–thousands in the streets all over the U.S. demanding an end to state violence that disproportionately targets Black people, in the wake of police extra-judicial executions of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Also last night–5 Dallas police officers murdered, more wounded, in an act that will make everybody–especially activists in the movement for Black lives–not more, but less, safe. In the past weeks–ISIS attacks in Bangladesh, Istanbul and Baghdad killing hundreds, on the heels of mass murder in Orlando.
And in the midst of all this–remembering two years since Israel’s horrifying assault on the Gaza Strip.
Sometimes there are no new words. At this moment, at least, I have no new words. Instead, I want to re-post some of what I’ve already said, already written–pieces that affirm life, humanity, the dignity inherent in every human being. This piece–about Gaza, and about my friend Amer Shurrab–is also (in its message) about Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Berta Caceres and her courageous colleagues in Honduruas, the Pulse massacre vicitims, all of the victims of all of the attacks.
Each of them, a world.
We were sitting at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, with a handful of friends who had gathered for a picnic potluck, awaiting others who would be joining us shortly.
A Facebook message came through on my Smartphone from my friend Yousef Munayyer.
Hey Jen, just saw some news about a young man from the Shurrab family in khan yunis being the latest victim, Name is Tayseer. Have you heard from Amer recently?
Amer Shurrab was, as a matter of fact, sitting across the picnic table from me at that very moment. He had come for a few day visit from Monterrey, where he is finishing his MBA. Though we had planned the visit weeks before the shit hit the fan in Gaza, the timing of it felt oddly right. I think it felt somewhat comforting to Amer to be surrounded by people who had some notion of what he…
View original post 1,056 more words
I spent the Eid last year in Gaza, with families who experienced unimagineable horrors during the successive Gaza assaults. Today is 2 years since the 2014 Gaza war began. I re-post here what I wrote about Eid in Gaza last year for +972mag, holding in my mind and in my heart all who have been brutalized (in Gaza, in Minneapolis, in Baton Rouge, in Orlando, in Baghdad, in Istanbul, and in so many other places.)
Wafaa Awajah’s family had scarcely taken their seats in a circle of plastic chairs when her brother hitched up his pants to show me the scars on his leg from where he had been injured by an Israeli soldier. Another brother had also sustained injuries from the army; he, too, showed me his wounds. As Wafaa passed around a tray of chilled soft drinks and bowls of nuts and sweets (as is customary during the Eid celebration) a third brother told me of how years ago a settler had hit him with his car–intentionally, he believed–as he was riding his bike on the side of road. A fourth brother had been imprisoned on two occasions, not by the Israeli army, but by Hamas. “For speaking too much,” he told me with a grin, when I asked him why.
Read the rest HERE