Friday, November 15, 2013

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams - An All American Boy

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams - An All American Boy
This article was originally written in December of 2005.  It wasn't written to glorify either crime, murder, or the gangster lifestyle that a minority of Black and Hispanic youth embrace in the hood. It was written to reflect the reality of life in this nation’s inner cities, and the culture of wasted humanity that it spawns. 
In the end, it turned out that Tookie Williams was a brilliant young man, and he just might have possessed a mind that could have cured many of society’s ills. This nation cannot afford such a waste, and the Black community cannot just sit back and allow this sort of thing to continue, because the fact is, Stanley 'Tookie' Williams was actually an All American Boy; the only thing he did that we don't routinely honor our young men for, was applying his American values toward his own interest, instead of Exxon/Mobile's.
I went to view the remains of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, the Friday after America released his body from its death chamber. He went to Washington High School with my late wife. When I went inside the mortuary’s Slumber Chamber where Tookie’s body lie in repose, there was only two of us there, a lady sitting in the front pew quietly weeping, presumably a member of Tookie’s family. It was obvious that the lady was in great pain, so in spite of the fact that I didn’t know her, I offered her my condolences. The chamber was quiet and solemn.  Then, after paying my respects, I walked out the side door of the mortuary - and into an absolute zoo.    
In the parking lot next to the mortuary there was a crowd of people partying like it was New Years Eve - the music was blasting, one car was on lifters so high that it seemed to be standing on end, and three sisters were dancing in a heated frenzy before a crowd of maybe a hundred people shouting, “Go ba-by! Go ba-by! Go ba-by!” It was unbelievable. But the scene outside the mortuary that night served to reinforce a point of view that I’ve held for many years now - it's time for our people to wake up and sniff the funk, because the fumes are emanating from all around us, and it’s coming at us from every direction. That goes for the American people in general, but black people in particular.
As black people, we have a beautiful and festive culture, and I realize that in the past that festive spirit has been used to great effect as a defense against pain.  But times are changing in this country, and they’re changing faster and more drastically than we’ve ever known before.  So, if we are to survive as a people, we must adapt to that change - and we’d better do it real fast.
Looking at the United States today, one can’t help but recognize that it’s become reminiscent of Germany during the 1930s, just prior to the rise of fascism.  We have a regime currently in power that’s stolen two elections, and has taken over every branch of government; they invaded a sovereign nation on false pretenses, and they’re saber rattling towards others; They’ve set up concentration camps all over the world, and they’re torturing innocent people.  As we party, they’re not only passing laws that will allow them to spy on American citizens, but arrest those citizens, while denying them rights supposedly guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
We’ve got to start thinking the way this government thinks (notice that I didn’t say “the White man,” because if a White man happens to be poor or middle class, he’s in trouble too). We‘ve got to start thinking ahead.  When I was in The Marine Corps way back in 1971, even then, they had me out in Twenty-nine Palms training reservists in desert warfare.  So you see, while we’re living in the moment, this government is thinking ahead.  And when you consider the fact that Bush is now spending 2 billion dollars a week in Iraq, and sending this country into so much debt that it precludes our funding education, Medicare, most entitlement programs, and possibly, even Social Security, you’d better believe they have a game plan in mind.  They have to have one, just to deal with the resulting social upheaval that is sure to result - and they are practicing that game plan in Iraq as we speak.  So it is past time for black people to set our party hats aside, at least for the moment, and embark on a very serious and sober reassessment of where we stand in this country today.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-America - I Love America.  America has provided me and my family with a way of life, and opportunities, that we might not have found in any other place in the world. But what I love most about America is the American ideal, those ideals that we may not always live up to, but we aspire to.  It is the American ideal that makes America special, and it is the assault on those ideals that makes me very nervous about the Bush administration. Under Bush, we seem to be losing sight of what America stands for. He claims that the terrorists hate us because of the American ideal of freedom, justice, and equality.  But if that is indeed the case, the terrorist are clearly winning this war, because with every day that passes those ideals are being whittled away.
When Bush invaded Iraq in response to 9-11, he demonstrated very clearly his propensity for venting his hostility towards people of color.  In spite of the fact that all available evidence pointed to the fact that Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with attacking this country, his invasion of Iraq seems to say, “Oh well, one Arab is just like another - they’ll do.”  That is not the American way.
And as a result of that policy, United Press International reported on July 12, 2005 that according to an Iraqi humanitarian organization, 128,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion began in March 2003.  The report goes on to say,  “chairman of the 'Iraqiyun' humanitarian organization in Baghdad, Dr. Hatim al-'Alwani, said that the toll includes everyone who has been killed since that time, adding that 55 percent of those killed have been women and children aged 12 and under.”  Thus, according to this report, more women and children are being killed in Iraq than anyone else - and that, is not the American way.
In addition, it has now come to light that the Bush administration has been spying on Muslims in their homes, businesses, and mosques, without warrant, since September 11, 2001. Conservative spin doctors try to justify this policy by saying that this fudging of the Constitution only affects
0.1% of the people, so those of us who don’t have anything to hide, don’t have anything to worry about.  But the fact is, these violations set a precedent that sends the nation down a slippery slope that affects us all.  It’s not only a gross violation of an entire community of people, but a corruption of the United States Constitution that places us all in jeopardy. That is not the American way.
So it is clear that our government, under Bush, has no understanding, nor respect, for limits.  Since he's already demonstrated his propensity to paint all people of color with the same brush, it’s not a very big leap from terrorist, to Muslim, to Black Muslim, to black people in general.  And while that's not the American way, it's a glaring reality.
So, again, it is past time for the black community to turn down the music for a minute and get serious. The Cabbage Patch can wait, because if there has ever been a time in our history where it is incumbent upon us to focus, educate ourselves, and become politically engaged, it is now. We’ve demonstrated over the years that we can party hardier than any group of people in the world, but at this point in our history, we have absolutely nothing to party about.  Tookie’s body should attest to that fact.
Since I wrote that article eight years ago, there has been some change - with respect to the Black community, it's gotten worse.  Some Obama critics - like Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and the entire Republican Party - would say, that makes their point.  Even though we've elected a Black president things have gotten worse. But that's not true.  On a national level things have gotten a lot better. Under the Bush administration the nation was hemorrhaging 850,000 jobs per MONTH, and this nation, and the world as a whole, was racing towards a second Great Depression, so on a national level things are much better.
What the steady decline of the Black community does clearly indicate, however, is that we're not doing nearly enough to help ourselves. So why are Obama critics wasting so much time on television, selling books, and rolling around in buses promoting themselves when there is so much work to be done in the community? Why aren't they in the community with their sleeves rolled up and educating the community to the need for change, and about how to bring that change about?  The answer is, because they don't care. All they care about is their own enrichment. So the fact is, we've got to stop waiting for them, and start caring about ourselves. So let's get moving.
About Tookie and Others Like Him
we must also remember while we’re condemning Tookie that society creates it’s own monsters. All any person is, is a walking, breathing, bundle of past experiences, and society creates those experiences. So society plays a huge role in what we become as individuals. Then, why is it that two people from the very same sociological group will become complete opposites - one will become Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams, and the other, Dr. Ben Carson?
First, is parenting - our parents help to shape the way we view reality, how we deal with adversity, and determine whether we feel entitled or deprived. Second, is predisposition - some people tend to be appeasers, while others are combative. And finally, every individual is shaped by micro experiences - the individual experiences that serve to shape our personalities. Maybe at some point in his life Tookie Williams was slapped by a cop, and Ben Carson never had that experience. So although Carson is from the very same sociological group, his INDIVIDUAL life experience has shaped him differently.
Thus, Tookie Williams wasn't just BORN to be rebellious, he BECAME rebellious as a result of what he's experienced in life. And Carson wasn't BORN to be a subservient kiss-ass (which is clearly what he is), his INDIVIDUAL experience has shaped him into what he's become. Therefore, society creates its own monsters.
This society also created Gorge W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and while, granted, Tookie Williams was alleged to have killed the innocent people that he was executed for (there was evidence to the contrary, but the state refused to examine it), we know for a fact that Bush and Cheney was responsible for the death of over a million people, the maiming of thousands of others, and the torture of still others. So even if Tookie was guilty of what he was accused of, his crime doesn’t even begin to approach the magnitude of Bush and Cheney’s. Yet, instead of killing Bush like society did Tookie, we built him a library.
Thus, Tookie’s major crime wasn’t murder, per se - mere murder is routinely a part of the American ethic. Tookie’s major crime was allegedly murdering in the promotion of his own agenda, rather than the agenda of Haliburton and Exxon/Mobile, in which we hand out medals.
Now, those are the facts. Bush and Cheney turned the American military into nothing less than the Crips with a dental plan. Tookie merely took the American ethic - in which he’d been indoctrinated by all of his life - and applied it to his own environment. As far as he was concerned, he was America, and everybody else that didn’t see things his way, was the USSR.
Thus, the existence of the Tookies in the Black community is our fault, because we’re so busy watching BET, MTV, ESPN, partying and having a good time, that we're failing to educate our own young people in OUR own values. We're allowing them to take on the very values that were responsible for our enslavement - and I'm not speaking as a detached academic from an office atop Mt. Olympus; I'm speaking as a hood rat . . . just like my late friend, Tookie.

I knew Tookie;
I WAS Tookie,
And I knew his pain.
I knew the pain of a child
That the cold, smirking
Eyes of society
Peered down upon;
Of being caught like
A doe in the headlights
Of unbridled hatred
For nothing more than
Just . . . being;
Of being
And under-educated,
By a society
Intent on robbing me
Of the innocence
That is every child’s birthright.
And I know the churning, agonizing,
And unfocused anger
Of a youth
Who knows anger
Much too soon.
I knew Tookie;
I WAS Tookie,
But I ain’t going out like that.
Because some the greatest minds
I’ve ever known
Held court while sitting
on empty milk crates
In the parking lot
Of ghetto liquor stores;
And at their feet I embraced
The love of knowledge,
And through their tutelage
Defined self-worth
In my own terms.
These were the "Eulipians"—
Writers, poets, musicians, painters,
And uncommon drunks—
Those shade-tree philosophers who
Contemplated the fungus
Between the toes of society;
Who danced with reckless abandon,
Unfettered by formal inhibition
Through the presumptuous
Speculation of the ages.
Yes, the Eulipians,
Who lived in county jails,
Cardboard boxes, alley ways,
And luxury apartments.
Seemingly insignificant
Here in Great Bruteland,
But of ultimate significance
In the eyes of God.
While these obscure intellectuals
Stood well outside the mainstream
Of academy,
I watched with astonished delight
As they sang, scat, blew, and scribed
Their various philosophies into the
Mainstream of human knowledge.
Oh Yeah,
I knew Tookie;
I WAS Tookie,
But I met the Eulipians,
Who, from their ragged podiums,
Put forth the proposition
That knowledge was free, thus,
Would transcend attempts to be
Contain through barriers of
Caste and privilege - and even,
Institutionalized murder -
Leaving man's innate thirst
For knowledge free to overwhelm
His lust for stupidity.
Yes in deed, I did know Tookie;
I WAS Tookie,
But I choose a different tact.
While I refuse to lunge
Against your saber,
In a glorious and defiant act,
Look into my eyes, my man--
I still got my brother’s back.
You thought you had him,
While facing death,
But he went down like
Like Trojan -
Leaving your silly asses,
With your silly smiles,
Standing there
Shocked and frozen.
"What’s up, baby,
Can’t find a vein?
You been beggin’ to do this,
So let’s us do this thang.
But if y’all
Waitin’ around
To see some pain,
I ain’t the only one gon’
Die here,
You jive ass, lame.
"Faint of heart?
Give it here,
I’ll stick the damn thang for ya;
I’m a man of the hood
And strong of heart,
So I goin' down
Like a warrior.
"Naw, my man,
You don’t see no fear;
You really look surprised!
I’m gon’ honor my people
As I leave here,
So just stick me,
So I can close my eyes and die.
"You schemed and cheated
To take me out,
So let us get this on;
You can still my body
And take my breath,
But my heart
Will still live on."
You mean
THAT Tookie.
Yeah, I knew Tookie,
We’ve planted his heart
Within the hood;
So what you saw as dirt,
We see as soil,
To sow this tragedy,
Into something good.
Oh yeah,
I KNEW Tookie,
But I ain’t goin’
Out like that.

Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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