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I, Witness:
A Prayer for Modern Times

Thank God for the cell phone.


Thank God for its world-wandering, all-rovering eye


Thank God for this public panopticon;
this electronic data collector;
It has proven, finally proven,
that we really haven’t been making all this stuff up. 


It is really not a matter of us being overdramatic, or whiny, or emotional, or the fact that we are just not grateful for our blessings.


It is really not just a matter of us overblowing stories to play the sympathy card about "all we could have done had it not been for slavery."


Thank God for this newfangled piece of technology
that -- first in the guise of TV cameras -- captured Bull Connor’s senseless overreaction to children crusading by siccing attack dogs on ‘em and shellshocked white Americans who had been telling themselves that police brutality in the South couldn’t have been as bad as all that.

that -- next in the guise of a video camcorder -- captured the Rodney King abomination and convinced white Americans that there was a problem and something should be done but King really probably shouldn’t have been out at night doing what he was doing

that -- next in the guise of voice-recording technology -- captured George whatshisname assassinating Trayvon Martin and turned white Americans against this sort vigilantism

that captured Eric,
that captured Philando,
that captured Ahmaud,
that captured George,
that captured on and on and on and on and on.


Now you believe us. 


Now you are, like, putting your lives on the line.
In the streets.
Alongside us.


Which is all we have ever wanted


God bless the cell phone


God bless its faceless, judgment-free, all-seeing eye.


I bet the predominance of camera technology in modern society will end up being the single greatest weapon against racial injustice in American history.


I am not joking. 

More than the pulpit, more than the pedestal, more than the ballot box, far more than guns or knives. 

It is our single greatest weapon

It is our nuclear bomb

It is the apocalyptic all-seeing eye of truth.

You simply can’t escape it

I bet some cops are wondering what the big deal is. I bet some of them -- the bad ones -- are like,

“What? You didn’t know we were doing this? All along? Isn’t this what you wanted us to do? Aren’t your daughters and sons drowned in so much white skin that they couldn’t possibly affix their eye on anything else? That’s because we police the bounds of propriety. We’re doing it. We’re doing what you want us to do.”

But now, we all see. 

Now, we all know.

God bless you, cell phone

God bless your everloving ever-watchful eye. 

You are our Savior because You are the eye of God

God bless you 

God bless you and keep you ever watchful

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About David

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UCLA, a Master of Arts in History from Cal State University--Los Angeles, and a Doctor of Philosophy in African Diaspora History from Indiana University. I spent nine years as a public school teacher first in East New York, Brooklyn, and then in South and East Los Angeles. 

 

My dissertation topic was on slave resistance, as well as the construction of race. Although I am considered a resistance scholar, I am primarily interested in creating community dedicated to effecting global change through the promotion of justice and freedom for all living things. So I consider myself a "freedom scholar."

I am originally from Queens, New York, but I currently reside in Jacksonville, Florida, where I am the Assistant Professor of History at Edward Waters College, Florida's first HBCU.

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Photo Credits:

Profile Pic: Kate Hallock
All other photos by: Ronnda Cargile Jamison

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