Checkmate

Do you know the pain that surrounds us as being black people stolen from a land called Africa? Can you really match that pain? Should you try? Or, should you just listen to the stories? The endless accounts of mothers losing their sons and daughters by gun violence, drugs, death, and other ways of destroying a people who weren’t even (and still aren’t) considered human.

NUMBER 13 as in Thirteenth Amendment= 3/5'S

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise reached between delegates from Southern and Northern States during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention. The debate was over whether, and if so, how, slaves would be counted when determining a state’s total population for legislative representation and taxing purposes.

Will you offer your story of what you’ve been through? Is it possible just to listen well and not speak since ancestorally yours were involved in mine not counting me as a human being, but only 3/5th’s of a human which has affected my black skin for over 400 years? Listen with the intent of not commenting. I think all of me deserves that, not just 3/5th’s.

I constantly find my story, the story of a black child, that child being me, trying to be matched with a “checkmate” as if my life was a chess game. It is not a chess game. My vessel is a life full of stories of my pain, my suffering, and my heartache. My joy, my love, my learning how to love, and my children for whom I love. My friends, my relatives, my distant relatives, and those that I love as if they were blood family. When I think for black folks I think of people, whole people, who just want one thing.

Listen

We have many ways we want to tell our stories. We are a spiritual and emotional people. And our stories are, for the most part, done with great passion. Sometimes yelling is involved, anger is present, and grief is consistent. But just like a 2nd line dance in New Orleans:

Second line is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans, Louisiana. The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the “second line.” The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called “second lining.” It has been called “the quintessential New Orleans art form — a jazz funeral without a body.”[1] Another significant difference from so called “jazz funerals” is second line parades usually lack the slow hymns and dirges played at funerals (although this is not a hard rule; some organizations may have the band play something solemn towards the start of the parade in memory of members deceased since their last parade).

2nd lining is so perfect for our culture of being historically ripped from Africa, the content of our birth. We lament over what has happened, but we 2nd line over things “we caint do nuttin about.” I even love our slang, our use of words, were like no other people in the world

And yet, I wonder why people try and match our pain, as if you could! Sometimes, most of the time, like everyone else, we wanna tell our stories the way we want to. Not the way someone says you should write a book, make a film, or tell their own story. Not in a common western European way. We can’t stand when things stay the same. Jazz artists don’t like playing the same note the same way forever. That doesn’t mean we don’t like playing the song over and over. What it really means is that we don’t wanna play it the same way twice! There’s a difference! And I believe, that there just aren’t enough people of color (but I’ll stick to black folks) telling their stories in their own ways. We just aren’t listened to enough, there’s that chess game again! I’m put on this earth to tell stories, or show stories in a non-traditional way! I’m put on this earth to help my brothers and sisters of any color that is Latina, Latino, African-American, Native American, and Asian tell their stories boldly. Some by modeling, some by writing about it, some by actually teaching! Me, I’m a filmmaker, a writer, a director, a producer; shit, I’m a f’ing creative person always looking to tell my story. I implore you listeners to do just that, Listen!

Don’t respond right away if you hear “my story”. Like a good meal, just let it sit on your stomach for a while. Let it marinate in your head, and let it affect your heart, which I pray will change your mind about my black skin that God has given me (and that of my brothers in sisters of other darker hues).

I have lots of friends who also create commentaries on that experience of being black and part of 50,000 people who were warriors stolen from a land. Now that we’re 40 Million people just trying to find ways to scream, shout, 2nd line, dance, and create the music of story in our lives, we want one thing. Listening to our stories at The Table with food. Maybe by the sixth meal you can ask a question. But not a statement of checkmate. Really? Come on, after our culture changed the course of history in so many ways. A people who were not regarded as human even? A people that creativly affected areas like Alabama to the Appalachian Mountains, change the course of music from the minute we set foot on Plymouth Rock, and cinematically still have miles to go to express oursleves. You wanna take your bishop to my queen called Africa and checkmate me? So, listen to this non-traditional testimony of an amazing group called Fantastic Negrito! I have friends involved with them on many levels. I support this testimony, it is a form of a 2nd line, a lement if you will over the loss of a 14 year old boy.

Oh Heavenly father, as we gather here, whatever is bothering her as it was taken away”-Easy in Fantastic Negrito short film

Have a listen, don’t comment, let it sit on your palate of your thought for a moment. If you can just listen to the pain of this song, the testimony of it’s participants in the short film this might be the end of your checkmate moment of always trying to match our pain. You can’t, nor are we asking you to. Just let us tell our story in our way. We want to take you “Into the Pines” of our stories and leave you there for a while. When surrounded by the trees, shhhhhh! Don’t talk, don’t text, don’t twitter, don’t shutter, don’t say a word. Shhhhh! The pines via Fantastic Negrito (a band) want to speak to you about these people with dark skin called Black Folks, they are actually human beings!

Fantastic Negrito: The Short/Music Video “In The Pines”

Rashidi Natara Harper-The Writer, Director, and Producer

A visionary: My Distant Cuzin, Rashidi Natara Harper. I’ve known him since he was two years old. When, I tell you God built him to tell stories like this, it’s true. He’s only getting started. I follow in his footsteps quietly trying to learn and implement my stories into a written and visual medium. I love him! This is his quote about his film/video

The ‘In The Pines’ video-short premiered a week ago today and the response has been inspiring It’s truly up to each and every one of us to do everything within our powers to put an end to gun violence. Tour kicks of this weekend in New York, hope to see you all on the road. -Rashidi

Checkmate!

-Marvin Wadlow Jr