When killings of black men are broadcast on TV or social media, people turn out to protest. But no one talks about the impact of these brutal images on children.
Yirim Seck, a renowned Senegalese-American rapper released a video today titled “We Call It [Murder]” that does just that, depicting the impact police brutality against black men has on their kids.
When I met Yirim for the first time I was consumed by his level of energy and excitement about life. He was one of the first people in Seattle that made it possible for me to settle in as an African immigrant.
Since then, we have travelled together from Seattle to Kenya on a mission trip. My 2-and-a-half year-old daughter and Yirim’s two eleven-year-olds have played with each other. I am continuously inspired by Yirim’s integrity and commitment to his family, which has an expansive roots in the Central District and Senegal.
And now I’ve begun to see a different piece of Yirim’s story through the “We Call it [Murder]” video — especially his desire to protect Kini and Anna, his beautiful daughters shown in the video, from the gruesome videos of people that look like him being killed by police.
It’s easy to write or talk about the situation of black men. What’s harder is the fact that any of the black men I know in Seattle could be shot by law enforcers. The typical response would be to get mad on social media, watching the gruesome videos and making them viral, then going back to work and thinking the problem has been solved. We forget that during the time we watch these videos and react to them, our children are watching us and reacting to our response. We store our disgust in their hearts, and that anger becomes their anger. The cycle of hatred can continue to bubble hot for generations.
Imagine Seattle becoming the leader in breaking this cycle of hatred by allowing authentic dialogue to take place. Yirim envisions an evening event where affected families and those accused of perpetrating the violence can share their stories in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.
There is no winner in a society that allows brutal murder of a specific group of people to become a way of taming them from thriving. Everyone loses. But the biggest losers are the children. Yirim’s narration of how Kini and Anna are in shock whenever they watch the murder videos killed my spirit, but also reminded me of why his response to this cycle of hatred is through what he does best, which is music.
Lyrics from “We Call it [Murder]” emphasize this: “Cops looking at my black skin, matching with my black timbs, matching with my black brim, damn! They don’t like these black kids.”
Even though the situation is grim, I think because we are in Seattle where some of the world leaders in communication technology are based, we have a chance to respond to this situation by breaking the cycle through open dialogue, disbursed through the community through technology.
Yirim’s knows that as an artist he has a duty to be a voice pushing for social change.” We Call it [Murder]” is a call for systemic change. The immediate path to a better and safer community for black men is a town hall meeting for people to listen and learn before they react.
Yirim’s hope is to host the dialogue by the end of this year and he is asking everyone that wants to participate to watch “We Call It [Murder] and leave a comment confirming they would be a part of such an event. He’s committed to ensuring that the whole community participates, so he plans to stream the community dialogue online for those who will not make it, and to share it globally to ensure the world knows that Seattle is again taking this situation head on, just like we are known for in the tech field.
Yirim will announce when and where this town hall will happen once the “We Call it [Murder]” video gets to 500 comments in support of the event.
Stay tuned for updates.