"As we piled back onto the buses, throughout the weekend, that is the refrain – ‘we are unafraid to die’ — that stuck with many of us, that let us know something is different.
But it is different for different reasons than I might have imagined. What does it mean to be ‘unafraid to die’ in order to bring about change? As those words echoed in my mind, on the bus ride home, I was reminded of Notorious B.I.G., the slain rapper whose debut album ‘Ready to Die’ turns 20 years old this month.
Some of the Ferguson riders are 20 years old. They were birthed in the crucible of the Tupac-Biggie moment, the height of 20th century black nihilism. The same year that Biggie dropped ‘Ready to Die,’ Cornel West published the classic ‘Race Matters.’ In the first chapter, ‘Nihilism in Black America,’ he argued, ‘the major enemy of black survival in America has been and is neither oppression nor exploitation but rather the nihilistic threat — that is loss of hope and absence of meaning. … The self-fulfilling prophecy of the nihilistic threat is that without hope there can be no future, that without meaning there can be no struggle.’
Mike Brown’s death has brought new meaning to local black struggle. His death has come to mean something more, something greater than his life might have been taken to mean, as a poor young black man from a working-class suburb. His death, and officer Darren Wilson’s callous disregard for his life, has made the precariousness of black life visible for a whole new generation of black youth. The precariousness has been made visible and it has been deemed unacceptable – by both the old and the young. One of the riders, a 10-year-old girl from Los Angeles, told us in a church service on Sunday morning, ‘I am here because I am worried about my life. I’m only 10 years old. I should not have to be worried.’"
— Dr. Brittney Cooper, "I am not afraid to die": Why America will never be the same post-Ferguson (via ethiopienne)