90 days

jasmine abdullah richards was sentenced today to 90 days in jail.

for lynching.

she is the first black person ever convicted of felony lynching. it is an outrageous charge. i keep seeking other words for this convergence of feelings, but only outrage comes close to accuracy.

this is a moment every black person, particularly those participating in visionary organizing and protest to assert that our lives matter, need to internalize. this is our 90 days.

it is more than an individual punishment, it is a test of our interconnectedness, our alertness, our attention.

we must practice sustaining this story and our connection to jasmine beyond the life span of a meme or trend.

tonight i rocked the babies to sleep and somewhere in there i too drifted – it was a long day and i was not really awake or asleep, suspended between tired and responsible, listening and dreaming.

it is so much we are expected to hold, it is easy to drift away from what we most care about, most long for.

today there was an unaccountable young rapist in my face, electoral extremes as part of my social media feed celebrated a woman presidential nominee and part complained of shady election mishaps. i wore purple all day for Prince’s first birthday as an ancestor. there’s so much all at once. so we drift.

but jasmine is one of our freedom fighters. her captivity is tied to our liberation.

when the news came this afternoon i felt relief that it wasn’t four years, and anger that it was even one day.

the nibblings, who were my reaponsibility today, noticed my emotions and asked me what i could do. and i thought about it.

of course continue my work, we always continue to fight our local-global fight in so many ways. but i kept coming back to the words jasmine shouted in the courtroom, echoing assata across time: it is also our work now to “love each other and protect each other”. what can i do to love and protect jasmine?

i mapped out 90 days on the calendar. it ends on my birthday in september. it’s three months. this amount of time has already flown by twice this year. for jasmine’s sake I hope it flies by now.

what leapt to mind was a spiritual commitment to keep my attention on her every day until she is free. to not let her fall away from my heart as the changes keep coming. to think of her, to feel these 90 days with her.

so i reached out to some friends – i have been in a practice of shifting my relationship to sugar with a group of other social justice beloveds. five of us (so far) have committed to being in collective practice over the next 90 days, in jasmine’s name. we will practice with our bodies (mostly abstaining from added sugars, one person is cutting out caffeine, one is also doing a 12 sun salutation yoga practice, another is doing a practice of free dance) to stay mindful of jasmine’s revolutionary work during this time, and to ensure that we feel these next 90 days.

i am sharing this here as an invitation. how will you #standwithjasmine?

update:

– lena gardner offered the tag #solidaritywithjasmine

– we’re up to 91 people now!

– Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism joined!

– Malcolm X Grassroots Movement joined!

– there’s a facebook group for those who want to join, just let me know if you want the invite! <3

#freejasmine (they want us to be afraid; even fear is fuel)

they convicted jasmine abdullah richards of lynching. on tuesday june 7 she is set to be sentenced.

at this time police officers continue killing, getting occasionally indicted, never locked up, never held accountable. but they convicted jasmine. of lynching.

this makes me feel angry and afraid, makes me think of charity hicks, berta carceres, syrian refugees drowning in the mediterranean, whistleblowers gunned down in flint and so many others they determine to be disposable, collateral, or threatening.

and no, i know, i know it’s never a monolithic they…it is many individuals tied together by the willingness to twist out of accountability, out of relationship with community, to harm anyone and anything to uphold their myth of power.

to contain us they contort their own humanity.

in these tragic moments we must notice we are angry, and afraid. we know we are advancing on the energy of rage, moving through our collective reactions towards a vision of dignity, wholeness, connectedness, liberation.

fear is an intelligent response to terrifying changes. they want this fear, want us to be cowered by this fear – of change, of punishment, of each other, because fear is fertile ground for suspicion, division. and yet we cannot be pulled apart from jasmine, or any of the other black organizers putting their lives on the line for our collective justice.

so we must learn how to hold on to each other, grow and advance our work with our fear beside us.

‘they tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds’ – i love this mexican proverb. overwhelmed by shit, by the torrential rain of frightening news that storms down into the deepest places, we grow. we are seeds regardless of the appearance of borders, of control, of life or death.

many mushrooms are designed to absorb and process toxins for nourishment. i want us to learn how to do that right now, because they convicted jasmine of lynching and we have to process this into a radical fuel to free her and free ourselves. we have to feel everything and let it grow inside of us as urgency, depth, as longing for the justice we want, as our commitment to each other.

everything is fuel to us.

i don’t know jasmine personally, but i feel she is my comrade, and know she is someone i look up to. jasmine is in the work of freedom fighting and everything i hear about how she is standing in her dignity calls forth my courage – in her final moments in the courtroom after being convicted of lynching, jasmine was shouting assata’s words and hearing them back from her community:

“it is our duty to fight for our freedom
it is our duty to win
we must love each other and protect each other
we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

the more effective we are, the more outrageous the responses will be. the more they will seek to terrify us, erase us. we must have a plethora of moves to choose from. we are on one long journey from slavery to freedom, out of the trauma of identity-based hierarchy.

and we will set them free as we free ourselves, because freedom is a function of our interdependence, and what we imprison imprisons us. we must be free.

jasmine must be free. we have to do what we can to hold her close. today that means signing a petition:

I am advocating for Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards who was wrongfully convicted of attempted felony “lynching” for a “Peace March” that she organized last year. There were no allegations of violence and no injuries suffered at the march, yet the event was dubbed a “riot” by the prosecutor. Judge Elaine Lu presided over the case and is set to sentence Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards on Tuesday, June 7th. The charge could bring as much as 4 years in state prison.

Please join me and tell Judge Elaine Lu: No Jail Time for Jasmine! http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/freejasmine-no-jail-time-black-lives-matter-activist-accused-lynching/?sp_ref=203214790.176.169279.e.535244.2&referring_akid=.1737426.cS1Ucj&source=em_sp