Sunday, July 30, 2006

Can't Sleep-Beirut is Burning

I am not able to sleep. It is the first time in a long time that I have awakened and not able to fall back into dreams, nightmares or nothingness. Perhaps it is my writing spirit rising. This is my first blog in a long time. I have been writing, just not on this blog.

I went on a ten-day tour of the south in the United States. It was a Freedom Ride- a study tour of the Civil Rights Movement. I came home last Sunday evening. I have slept off and on everyday since then. The fact that I am awake at 3:59 in the morning must mean that I have finally gotten my rhythm back.

My mind is so busy that my body won't permit sleep. Beirut is burning. Should I be ashamed to say I am rooting for Hezbollah? They originally were a militia group set up in South Lebanon to protect the community of Shiites on the boarder of Lebanon and Israel. They have since provided educational and medical services. They have seats in Lebanon’s Parliament. It is also important to note that the national army of Lebanon is fighting alongside Hezbollah. It has been helpful to have conversations about Hezbollah with the host of Live From Palestine on the radio show. It is unsettling to say the least each week to put those phone calls through to Palestine and wonder if you can’t reach your guest because they are dead. I have respect for what they have been to the people of Lebanon. They are no different from the Black Panther Party. Did you know the Black Panther Party started the free lunch program?

I am thinking about the people in Congo who are voting in democratic elections, the first in forty years. I am thinking about how while I sit here writing people are already lining up at the poles to vote. I am thinking about how some of the voters will have walked many miles to get to their the polls. I am more worried about these things than the bills waiting on the radiator in my living room. Should I be?

I am concerned about the fate of my neighbor who is renting his apartment in the building next to me. A For Sale sign went up in front of their building on Friday morning. By late afternoon someone had taken the sign down and put it across the street in front of an unoccupied building. I don’t remember seeing the sign at all since then. This is Bedford Stuyvesant. A For Sale sign in front of a building folks have called home for thirty years is a threat. One has to take drastic measures.

For ten days I have been learning at the feet of the people who helped change the world I came into. I walked the paths of their blood, sweat, tears and blood. Yes, there was lots of blood. Their fight created the push for desegregation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They made change using the strategy of non-violence.

When the tour began Israel crossed into Lebanon claiming retaliation for two kidnapped soldiers, I was making a commitment to nonviolence. I was rediscovering Dr. King’s thoughts put into action. I stood on the ground where he lost his fight, where Medgar Evers was gunned down as he carried sweatshirts that read “Jim Crow Must Go”, met the man who integrated “Ole Miss” and 95 year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson. She has been fighting to remind America, and us that we are not citizens too, we are citizens. Today she is assisting a group of citizens in the fight to reclaim their 1800 acres of land in Harris Neck, Georgia. I returned to a hotel room every night thinking about the conversations, freedom songs, lectures I had had during the day and watched Americans being evacuated from Lebanon on CNN. I worried about our radio show contacts and their friends and families. I worried about the people who can’t get out. I worry about those who have nowhere to go.

The trip was timely. I know these lessons I’ve learned will be put to use, probably sooner than I think. I’ll write more about the trip in upcoming post.

If you are still awake and need to read more, I suggest a visit to