NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 69

DRIVE-BY Cousin, scholar, statisticwhat would I not do to bring you home. 67 Pick a side, pick a side, pick a sideThe ferocious, hungry and innocent imagination provided no place to hide. If an innocent would not murder, his alternative was to die. But that was a long time ago. There was, one might say, another left behind, left in the stacks to worry and practice a rosary of history and fate, to contemplate love and hate, counting the beads of who did and did not escape- BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE It was one of those furious seasons on the South Side when even a gentle and quiet child was not allowed to sit on his porch and contemplate the sky. It was one of those summers when the wars between various factions of the gangs, various factions of the police, and various manifestations of sociology, biology and real estate conspired to assassinate him as he sat mildly contemplating, in my mind, passages from Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Isaac Asimov. He was so private, bookish and private, in a city and circumstance where the smallest desire for privacy, quiet and one’s own counsel is construed a threat to the public and privatized powers-that-be. . If it is a truism to say black men are built out of the church or the street, then this innocent made himself in the library, his appetite, no, need for books legend among teachers, family, friends, a hunger that gained sympathy even among those who could not comprehend such urgency, his humorous and black-rimmed, nearsighted run for knowledge, while his soon-to-be executioners ran guns and stolen cars through kaleidoscopes of heat and rage on the way to prison, to a fair number of fair and unfair early deaths, daring anyone in sight to defy them. But the imperatives of territory and adolescence were nothing to him until some fool decided that any sixteen-year-old with a certain skin tone and that zip code had to ride or die, choose a side. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 67 3/29/15 11:41 AM