MATTHIAS, sometimes in pink hair and hoodie

On the rooftop, who am I

I am the white-hair woman on the rooftop whose face can light up like a firecracker, but who can stay awake past midnight, one, and two in the morning shredding herself down to worrying, worrying about money, about her daughter, about things undone. I work to stay fit, but I am a “girl” of the 50s, who would not be able to do anything except she walked her dog her entire childhood and youth, up and down and across lower Manhattan including the trucking cobbled routes and walked to school or the subway. I have ringing in my ears: is it my past shaking like aluminum foil? Will the tinnitis rise up and block all sound? I love olives. I used to think that loving olives was a mark of my Jewishness despite that Jewishness always seeming ill-informed and fumbling. I have a loved partner of my age. I love our shining youth, our future.

Below, on the ground, in the real place, he is he

If I were on the ground with him, he would be tall, willowy, standing a head above me, but from the roof, he is most prominently head top, hair cut close to the scalp and dyed pink on the crown, no way except literally  covering his awesome brain. His arms hang ungainly long from my perch above, long and sinewy enough to grasp the world, expressive boy hands which can push away. From here, his feet are big, for a world which wants to tumble him. His heart is falling out of his chest, his words of disaster and disgust spew, but he looks toward the sky and the roof. And he smiles.

hair not pink this week

Working on a piece about my friend, Matthias Pressley, but can’t as I stumble over the name Trayvon Martin. Matthias is two years older than Trayvon Martin. In his eyes and in his FaceBook posts, Trayvon Martin looms, huge like Matthias’s eyes.

I listen on YouTube to several mothers and one father of black teenage men murdered by the police: Oscar Grant, Ramarley Graham, Malcolm Ferguson. Ramarley Graham’s mother was summonded to the police station and even there never told, but left to guess when she heard the word “homicide” casually exchanged between two officers, that her son had been killed. Neither she nor her son’s father were accorded any deference though they were grief-stricken and shocked. The testimonies were posted by my friend, and Matthias’s mentor, Nia Wilson of SpiritHouse NC. Her son is a Black High School Senior.

I can say nothing original about this and I guess the point is not originality, but how many of us there are who feel this way. We have always been here, outraged and indignant, but in this age we have an electronic voice outside the commercial venues. That is where many of us have been:  dogging every piece of information related to the case, mired in it, giving the death of a seventeen year old its due in something our culture measures in terms of work not grief: time. For a while I didn’t realize how heavily Treyvon Martin’s murder weighed on me. The heaviness was compounded by the negligent/intentional mishandling in the case on the part of authorities.

I am a child of the Emmett Till generation. I am 69; today Emmett Till would have been in his 70s. So many women in HANDS ON THE FREEDOM PLOW cited the murder of Emmett Till as a critical factor in their development as activists.

Matthias, self portrait

On FaceBook: Matthias Pressley says: Secondly, I very damn well like my MF hoodie. It has a nice spinal cord piece that I might duly note that I added myself. If I want to wear my pimped out black hoodie to the freakin’ corner store or to BEST BUY or to church or to stand at the bus stop or to a gotdamn GALA, guess what? I purchased that shit and I will wear it, it’s mine. Who says hoodies are out? Who says it’s dangerous for people of color to wear hoodie’s just because of racial profiling looney-tunes? Huh!!!????!!!! I would like to kindly state/suggest: “Geraldo Rivera and ALL those alike, SHUT THE FUCK UP.”

Matthias, self portrait

I haven’t written here for several weeks. I plan to continue to write every two weeks, on Wednesdays, from now on. I have to embrace my voice, as in photo below with AfroLez film-maker, activist, Aishah Shahida Simmons (a daughter of SNCC).

Faith n Aisha Shahidah Simmons, Duke University Women's Center