On Monday, March 25, 2012, the National Black United Front held a demonstration at the Department of Justice as a follow-up to the Prayer Vigil held at the Big Chair in Southeast. While holding the bullhorn for speakers, I got a chance to quickly grab noted activist and scholar Davey D., and from there he allowed me the honor of interviewing him for VoxUnion.
Shauntrice Martin: Peace & Blessings. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
Davey D: Of course…
SM: Youth, (as well as elders), are tired of marches, vigils, etc. How do you feel about that and why you came to the rally for Trayvon Martin at the Department of Justice today?
DD: People are tired because they don’t see a victory. When we start to see victories as a result of these actions, we will start to see the actions as effective tools. I came to the rally today to see who was there, cover it as journalist, and get a different flavor. In terms of my activism and how I can contribute, at this point in time it’s really about using my skill set for the particular target. Radio has given me the ability to introduce a marginalized perspective of that has been grossly overlooked. It helps to get in concert with activists on the ground and hear the type if language or political discourse because it’s little bit more (I don’t want to say progressive) but it penetrates the system more. This is shaping up to be a big media campaign rather than sustainable movement.
One of the things that activist are going to have to be clear and honest about is that the thousands of supporters aren’t there because we did such a great job with outreach. They’re there because of CNN, Michael Baysden, Tom Joyner, etc. The proof is in the lack of coverage around Shaima Alawadi [Iraqi-American woman killed in Calfironia] and Rekia Boyd in Chicago who was shot by a cop. They’ve gotten very little national traction. There is not the same intensity. I say all that to note that media changes the narrative in a heartbeat. Everybody buys in. They watch the ticker. It is done without the humanizing aspect. When I say humanizing: there’s a guy who shot 16 Afghani people at wedding party and when he comes back, [the media] made him sympathetic… same with Trayvon. He was sympathetic until they changed the narrative. This brings to light the other side of the story. I am not going to be surprised to see George Zimmerman rallies. We’ve been through this with Oscar Grant. It is a media strategy. [There will be] pro-police rallies to bring sympathy to monsters. This is straight out of the playbook. Because so many have relied on the mainstream news sources, what is missing is a real understanding. We need to be on the lookout. People can’t just chant. Some pundits, well-known activists for Trayvon didn’t have anything to say about Oscar Grant. They just follow the media as well. It is their responsibility to connect the dots. We live and die by the narrative.
SM: What is your definition of white supremacy?
DD: It is a system that is predicated upon the dehumanization of all those who are not white. It is a system used by the elite; the folks in control of politics, commerce, and society—global society. They’re able to do that by systematically pitting us against one another, colonizing, and the whole nine. This keeps it in place.
SM: So how does George Zimmerman fit into this critique of white supremacy if he is now considered Latino/Hispanic?
DD: Zimmerman is now considered Latino. That is used to divert the issue. Nobody talks about his white father who is a judge. They trade him off to the Latino community. (Much like the Jamal Shaw case). They’re trying to slowly pit Black and Brown against one another. These actions simultaneously take the focus away from the white police department. The police messed up. The police covered it up. We should be asking ‘are they affiliated with the klan’, but instead we’re getting distracted. That is white supreme working.
The grassroots narrative is different. Eventually the puppet masters will say ‘now we’ve had enough’ if Zimmerman is arrested (or enough people step down). Once we’ve gone in circles enough times, the story will disappear from the media. I was trying to remind folks by connecting to that. This sort of thing is taking place all the time in Arizona. We need a game plan. We need to respond accordingly. There have been other incidents of white supremacy, since the beginning of the year even.
SM: What can people do to start to deconstruct white supremacy?
DD: Number one, use mainstream media critically. If you can get a ride, fine, but that shouldn’t be validation. Instead, build institutions depending on your location. Start building relationships you can control. Build firepower. I’ll do an interview for an hour and I’ll turn around and some of them get a mention on fox, tweets, etc. but they’ll get their asses beat because they don’t put the pressure on institutions. They’ll give ignored analyses. We’re still caught up in assuming we made it when it shows up on some of these corporate outfits. We have a responsibility to tell our own story in a more deliberate manner.
Second, leadership is needed. There are people who understand how this will play out. Something has touched a nerve. We need to be able to build with folks beyond Zimmerman, constantly remind people that Black people have always been “suspicious”. We’re suspicious in this country. Banks double check when we have large checks. As if a Black person can’t possibly get paid well. Whether you like him or not, Barack Obama is suspicious. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is led an investigation on Obama’s legal status. If he’s suspicious, then all of us are. Don’t lose site of that.
SM: Before we close out, is there anything else you want to leave with the readers?
DD: Be on point. In the middle of these demonstrations, don’t preach. Give guidance, plant seeds. Take it a little step further and find out what inspires people. Get wider perspectives. How many people paid thousands of dollars to fly and drive to Jena Six? Most people weren’t even able to get in! And if you ask the majority of the people who were so fired up back then about what happened, they couldn’t even tell you. They don’t know what’s going on right now with the Jena Six either.
SM: Thank you so much for the interview, I genuinely appreciate your time.
DD: Thank you sis.
Davey D., known as the hardest working man in hip hop, is a journalist, activist, writer, deejay, historian, and professor from the Boogy Down Bronx. He currently lives in California and works diligently to create sustainable change for all people. You can learn more about his work on his website: http://www.daveyd.com
Shauntrice L. Martin is the director of the Justice Resource Center and long time youth advocate. Shauntrice has taught in Belize, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Dominican Republic. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and currently works with youth to sustain social justice movements in the District and beyond.