Kids Who Die, by Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

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And none could say they were surprised: on #Ferguson

SeasonsGreetings_FergusonMO_GrandJuryAnnouncement_Cops_112414I keep needing to remind myself of something: I have liked every cop I’ve ever known.  The number’s not large, mind you; four, perhaps five people,  one of whom’s faces I can remember clearly but whose name has escaped me.  At least one is a Facebook friend who may read this.  Alternate universe me actually is a police officer; if you Google search my real name most of the results you’ll get are for the other guy since I’m as diligent as I can be about keeping my name off the Web.

But as much as I want to generalize, I keep having to remind myself: I know cops.  I am friends, or at least cordial acquaintances, with two of them.  They aren’t all bad people, as much as it frequently seems like they are.  They’re just embedded in a system that encourages them to be bad people, and if that’s not the most understated use of the word “just” that I see today something has gone terribly wrong.  Cops aren’t all bad people.  Cop culture fucking sucks.  You could say the same thing about gamers, by the way, a group I consider myself a part of.  The big difference, of course, is that gamers aren’t shooting young black men down in the street and getting away with it.

I’ve read through some of the grand jury testimony that was released today, and all of Darren Wilson’s testimony in particular.  I’m not a news organization and I don’t have to pretend to be objective: Darren Wilson is a liar.  He is a liar and a murderer and he is lying in his grand jury testimony and there is nothing that can convince me otherwise.  Consider this:


“The third one could be fatal if he hit me right.”

This is Darren Wilson at the hospital, no more than a few hours after he murdered Mike Brown:

141125-darren-wilson-hospital-01_a0e997077817dda5b02d46609bb590ed 141125-darren-wilson-hospital-02_f649b5ebfb8078242cb01614005f6c97

From head-on you have to look carefully to notice that his lower lip looks a little bit scraped.  The redness on his face only vaguely resembles a bruise; it looks more like a sunburn or a bad day with his razor to me.

This man wants us to believe that he thought he was being beaten to death.  Wants us to believe that Michael Brown was so mighty, so powerful and enraged, that he could have beaten a grown man to death with three punches.


He literally calls Michael Brown a “demon” on page 225 of the testimony, the same page where he slips and calls Brown “it” instead of “he.”  He says that holding onto Brown’s arm was “like a five-year-old hanging onto Hulk Hogan.”

Darren Wilson, according to his own testimony, is six feet four inches tall and 210 pounds. He is not a small man by any means.  What he is is a liar.  Michael Brown was murdered a hundred and fifty feet away from Darren Wilson’s car.  There are no official police photographs of the body because supposedly the photographer forgot to charge his batteries.  And Wilson’s story hinges on a call in to dispatch that, somehow, dispatch just magically never got.

This man is a liar and a murderer.  His description of the events not only fail to line up with direct evidence– the location of Brown’s body and the evidence of his own face make this perfectly clear– but his story from the beginning fails to pass the smell test in any meaningful way.  He describes a cloud of dust rising as Brown charges him (p. 226) and, astonishingly, claims that Brown was “almost bulking up to run through the shots” (p. 228), as if this young black man was literally the Hulk or some sort of inhuman monster.

He also describes Brown as charging him with one hand in his pants.  He’s wanting to make us believe that he thought Brown had a gun; I’m too busy trying to picture the image of a person bent over and charging headfirst toward someone with one hand down his pants to even consider the possibility.  It’s so ridiculous that I can’t even talk about it in a straightforward manner.  The image is comical.

The grand jury, remember, didn’t have to convict this person.  That wasn’t their job.  Their job was to decide whether it was reasonable to take him to trial.  Let that float through your head for a moment.  This man killed an unarmed teenager in the streets, claimed that he was being beaten to death and yet has marks on him less severe than my toddler has inflicted on me, claimed that, at 6’4″ and 210 pounds he was “like a five-year-old” next to an eighteen-year-old kid barely an inch taller than him… and the grand jury didn’t think there needed to be a trial.

Incidentally:  he repeatedly insists that Michael Brown hit him with his right hand while he was punching him through the car window.

Darren Wilson was in the driver’s seat of his police car.

Brown was hitting him with his right hand, beating him nearly to death, according to Wilson’s testimony.

And the bruises and marks are on the right side of Wilson’s face.

Think about that for a moment.

The sickness in this country is very nearly too much to bear.

A story, if you don’t mind.  Two, actually.  Oddly, both take place on the same highway.

I am driving in the left lane on 465 south, the Indianapolis bypass.  It is late at night, and I am (admittedly) speeding.  I pull alongside a vehicle on my right side, who is more or less matching my speed.  I glance in my rear-view mirror to see a vehicle in the distance behind me, a vehicle that goes from “in the distance” to “ten feet off my bumper” in a matter of seconds.

The car to my right is still not changing speed; the one behind me is very clearly in a huge hurry.  So I accelerate to get out of his way.  And the very second I hit 81 miles per hour– I did admit I was already speeding, but hitting 81 put me in a different bracket for my ticket– the unmarked cop car behind me hits the lights and pulls me over.

I was livid.  If he’d pulled me over for the speed I was already driving at, I’d not have been so angry.  I’d just have been busted.  But I was literally only driving the speed he pulled me over for because he’d come out of nowhere and he was tailgating me.  For all I knew, he was drunk– again, it was dark and an unmarked car; all I could see behind me were headlights.

I’m not going to pretend that I remember the precise conversation, but I was not polite with the cop.

A second story, on the same highway: It’s nighttime this time too, I’m coming home from my college graduation party, and in fact am still wearing my graduation gown.  This time, I just get popped for 75 in a 65 at a speed trap.  (I feel compelled to point out here that I haven’t gotten a ticket of any kind in seven years.  Just FYI.)  It’s fair, and I’m not angry about it.  Unfortunately, I can’t find my proof of insurance, or my registration, or something.  I know it’s somewhere in the car, but it’s not in an envelope or anything and I can’t track it down.  The cop tells me he’ll give me a minute to find it and goes back to his car to do whatever cops do for fifteen minutes when they pull you over.

I find my documents and, not thinking anything of it, get out of my car, my graduation gown still flapping in the wind, and walk back to his car to give him my papers.

He, absorbed in whatever he’s doing, doesn’t see me coming– doesn’t even realize I’m there until I tap on his window, startling him.

Now: tell the exact same stories, only imagine I’m black.

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Yes, this

Have an early-morning meme pic:


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Announcements! Cool announcements!

skylightscover02FIRST:  In what, surprisingly, counts as my first actual sale as a writer outside of self-publishing, my short story “Culaqan” is being published in December by the brand new literary anthology known as the 2014 World Unknown Review, edited by blogbuddy L.S. Engler.  The story has been on the site for a bit, so some of you may have read it before, but I’ve pulled it until some time after the anthology comes out.  If you’re interested, though, the very short stories “Crossroads” and “Confession” are set in the same universe.  Sort of.  I think.

I’m super excited about this, and expect to hear more about it as more details about the anthology are released and we get closer to release date, which I believe will be sometime in December.

bacover3dSECOND:  Just because I don’t plan on shopping on Black Friday doesn’t mean I’m not going to encourage other people to do so.  Both of my books are going to go on sale sometime late Wednesday night and will stay on sale at least through Friday night, and possibly for the entire weekend depending on how things go. Because of the way the different online retailers work, the sales are going to be slightly different depending on where you like to get your books from:

At Amazon:

At Smashwords:

  • The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 will remain free, because it’s free now (like literally right now.  You can click on that link and go download it, in a wide variety of ebook formats, right now.)
  • Skylights will be, and I’m really interested in seeing how this goes, set-your-own pricing.  Which means that you can have it for a penny if you want (and I think they’ll let you have it for free) or if you’ve been reading me for a long time and you have way more money than you know what to do with you can pay a thousand dollars for it.  Consider it a Christmas present for your favorite blogger.  Or just pay a penny.  I’m good either way, so long as some more folks read the damn thing.

Main thing?  Amazon won’t let me make stuff free if I’m not a member of Kindle Select, which I’ve opted out of, so I’ve got to set it at $0.99.  I’ve tried to price-match Benevolence Archives with Smashwords half a dozen times and it doesn’t work.  Do keep in mind that you can get Kindle editions of everything through Smashwords, as well as versions for any other ebook reader, but you may have to do some sort of rigamarole to get your file onto your device since it won’t do it for you.

Where should you get your books from?  Wherever you want, although I’ll admit I’m really curious about what will happen with the choose-your-own-adventure pricing at Smashwords.  Skylights hasn’t sold terribly well, even compared to the watermark Benevolence Archives has set, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with it.

Expect the volume of promotional stuff to increase a bit around here through the weekend, of course.  I’ll try and find some other way to be entertaining along the way, though.

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Just so I’m sure we all agree, is basically just a spamming service at this point, right?  Does anyone use this site for anything actually useful?  I’m not actually going to link to them; feel free to look them up yourself if you like, but the site has attracted my attention twice now, and I haven’t liked it either time.  The first time was when they published a photo of my kid that I’d put on my blog and shared it under the “Adult” category for no clear reason.  I locked the picture down, putting it behind a password, and removed links to it from Twitter.

This morning when I got up I had a notification that someone had retweeted a tweet that mentioned me– although oddly I hadn’t gotten a notification of the original tweet.  That message led me to discover this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 2.16.18 PMI hope it’s obvious to anyone who reads me that I did not write that nonsense, nor have I heard of the book I’m supposedly “sharing.”  The site has a “prevent mentions” function, although to use it you have to tweet at them, so I’m a little skeptical that asking to keep my name off of their site is going to do anything.  But this is annoying as hell.  I tweeted at the person who RTed the original tweet and haven’t heard anything back yet from them.

The other thing I’ve done is that I’ve started using the JustUnfollow app.  I don’t like that it occasionally tweets for me but I delete them when it happens (hint, guys, I’m happy to just send you money if I like your service) and I think the functionality is worth the minor occasional annoyance.  I had a conversation with a few folks yesterday about whether an auto-reply to people who follow you is worth the time it takes to set it up and ended up deciding it wasn’t, but the base Twitter app doesn’t seem to be telling me about all of my new follows anymore and I’d like to keep up a more or less 100% follow-back ratio for a while.

(For those wondering: this means that at the moment I’m following close to 1900 people.  It means that the main Twitter feed is a firehose that no one could pay attention to.  Basically the rule is that if someone interacts with me or if I notice them consistently they get added to a much smaller list that I pay attention to consistently.  TweetDeck is wonderful for this purpose, even if there’s not a mobile app for it.)

The other good thing about using JustUnfollow is it makes it a lot easier to aggressively grow my follower list again, which I’ve been looking to do lately.  I can pick people who have already followed and/or interacted with people I already know and scoop up a whole bunch of ‘em at once.  It’s not the most targeted way of acquiring followers, I know, but at least I’m grabbing people who I can reasonably suspect might be interested in what I’m doing over there.  So if you’re seeing this because I followed you recently, I did that because you’re already following someone who I think I have stuff in common with.  Hi!

Ultimately, I want to get to a point where if I send out a Tweet it’s got a good chance of being seen by a few hundred people, and then I’ll stop worrying about growing my follower list as much.  Right now my average over my last 20 Tweets is 111.5 impressions, so I’ve got a way to go yet.  I figure I’ll get there right about exactly when the service either shuts down or finds a way to make itself radically less useful (coughfacebookcough) so we’ve got that to look forward to.

(Follow me here, if you aren’t yet.)



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