Dear Summer: I Think I Saw Sweet Dick Willie


Dear Summer,

It seems like it took forever for your arrival this year, but just how are we supposed to enjoy your visit when you’ve been so volatile? You’ve run extremely hot or rained on every parade we’ve tried to hold to celebrate your return, as if all of our years together don’t mean a thing. Maybe I’m getting older; perhaps your light was always this scorching, but I don’t remember feeling so stifled in the midnight hours? Could it be that I seemed to enjoy Winter a little too much that you’re treating me this way? I know I seemed to be out and about often in your absence, but you really can’t expect me to sit idly and await your return each year.

The last time I remember it being this hot, for this long, Radio Raheem was choked out and Mookie threw a trash can through Sal’s Famous plate glass window. Wait a minute, that was Do the Right Thing, but I do think I saw Sweet Dick Willie pimpin’ through North Philly the other day.

Those sweltering days in Bed-Stuy are eerily reminiscent to the feeling bubbling beneath the surface over the last few days. The tension is seemingly as tangible as the humidity. We’ve reached yet another crossroad in community; we’re at the interaction of faux engagement and an actual movement. The problem is, we’ve traded in empathy for so long that the sustainability needed to endure an actual movement may have been washed down with a bottle of Ciroc Peach. The outrage over the Zimmerman verdict has calmed, but hasn’t dissipated and those who normally focus their energy elsewhere are still mentioning Trayvon’s name a few times per day.

However, no one’s telling the police who killed that boy at the party in Hamilton and a grandmother’s house was shot up in Oakland. Not to mention the day-to-day violence on any Martin Luther through the last five days. We’ve got a long way to go Summer, so maybe you can lighten your gaze a bit and allow us to clear our minds. I’m not sure if we have it in us to repeat your visit to Watts in ’65 or even Newark or Detroit in ’67, but I don’t think we should chance it.

The temperature have lived around 100 degrees, but the streets are running hotter; the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening and the voice of the people is popping molly and rocking Tom Ford, leaving a wayward people wandering in the wilderness of America. In this oppressive heat, a powder keg of oppressed people may explode and maybe this time the damage outside of our communities will be more than collateral. I’m not a spokesman or clairvoyant Summer, I’m just writing you in hopes you’ll loosen your grip on us for a few weeks and allow the time to recalculate our anger and fears.

Then again, that wasn’t Sweet Dick Willie I saw the other day, but that doesn’t change the temperature in our souls.


Al-Lateef

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