Cultural Politics

“One Bad Dude”

This is the piece I wrote for the Guardian on Terence Crutcher.

I have not been able to sleep since I learned about his shooting/murder. Sometimes I’ve just burst into tears, and I never met the man.

I’m just almost 40, a big guy, and Black. So maybe I have met him. 

It was edited for length and content but I also wanted to share with you the original “Last Testament.” I want to assure you I don’t ascribe to respectability politics, however knowing the triggers the mainstream media uses to snare Black victims of police overreach often face, I included everything I knew that would go against the stereotypes that are often used to condemn Black men and women to death, to claim that our lives weren’t as worthy of saving…expressed clearly or covertly. Know that I love you sisters and brothers, and we must work together to fight injustice. When I see white, Native, Latinx, etc. people being treated in similar ways I can’t help but think this is a backlash against an America  that some don’t want to see take hold. We need to work together to end this as soon as possible. I’m scared…we are living in a time when water is not sacred and dogs are being sicced on Native children, when Black hands up doesn’t matter, when misogyny sells t-shirts, when poverty is aided and abetted by greed, when walls take precedence over understanding, and homophobia murders people in clubs. We need a healing. Now. 

Anyway, please read the piece and reflect on these words:

Please everybody listen…

If they ever get their hands on me..

I will sit silently until it’s over. But if they kill me..

Please bear witness that I was not “one bad dude.”

Please fight for my character.

Remind them I loved to read and I loved to create community.

Tell them that I was never arrested or detained for a crime, never owned a firearm, and that despite her history, I loved the South. 

Tell them I did not do drugs, abuse alcohol, and that I was a father to many, baby daddy to none, teacher of torah. 

Remind them I was a teddy bear and not a beast to shoot.

Remind them I worked to do good things and that I wrote a book and that I was a quote on a Smithsonian museum wall, a TED speaker, that I quoted Shakespeare verbatim in front of an audience of 2000 in London, spoke at Oxford University, and that I touched the Western Wall twice and spoke at Yale 3 times.  

Tell them I wasn’t “one bad dude,”

Tell them I was a strong, Black man.

#TerenceCrutcher #SAYHISNAME! 

9 comments on ““One Bad Dude”

  1. Reblogged this on Black. Bunched. Mass. Mom..


  2. Once my tears dried, I shared the link on my FB page. One of your most powerful posts! and one everyone should read.


  3. Reblogged this on God at the Kitchen Sink and commented:
    I love you.


  4. Pingback: “One Bad Dude”

  5. Oh Michael. I loathe the truth that you need to write this. I love you so much, and cherish your infinite gifts to this world. Me and my people have to stop this horror show and change this evil we created and allow to grow every day. I am so sorry. Thank you for your words.


  6. Pingback: September 21: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. As always – eloquent, heart-felt and true. Love you Michael, and I am posting this on my page right now. We have to end this culture of violence. Thank you for all that you do – DeAnna


  8. My heart broke when I read the news, and broke again when I read your post. So beautiful and so sad and so poignant and so wonderfully and pointedly written. Thank you for continuing to share your beautiful with vision of the world, even when the world around us is so ugly and wrong and unjust.


  9. Patricia Kenny

    I hope to NEVER have to tell them these things about you. I want the killing to stop. Please know that more of us than not, want this horror to end. Thank you for this piece.


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