JILLIAN M ROCK

policing Black bodies







multidisciplinary artist and scholar, Jillian M. Rock, offers policing Black bodies, a survey of police presence in Newark. Rock begins her piece with a preview of her silkscreen where we the people ain’t never been my people is printed on an American flag. From the start, Rock is unmasking the collective “We the People'' stated in the U.S. Constitution, and places herself apart from the national identity in which she feels she and her people were never included. In her original poem, a space not of my own, Rock situates her readers in the streets of Newark.

Relying on memories, both shared and personal, Rock contests the notion of safety provided by police officers—especially as they physically assert themselves above the locals on horses. Her lyricism draws parallels between the cruelties of slavery and modern-day racism demonstrated in police brutality. She writes, “in this space not of my own/ sounds/ of cracked whips/ on past backs/ are now shoes/ trotting on/ black cement.” Even amidst the lingering effects of institutionalized slavery and racism, Rock ends her poem in action, as she clarifies that the people, who are constantly policed, can, in fact, see—and potentially resist.







 

In this space not of my own you are allowed to mount a horse and call it protection. You can prance the streets with this notion of crowd control for “my” safety.  But who is the crowd if not the locals?

In this space not of my own you are allowed to “break in” Black bodies like you break in a horse.  Put man against woman and work diligently at widening the divide.

Break him in
Break him down
Make her see
Make her see

That like a horse he too can be beaten and brought back to life. He too, can both carry the load and be one.

Make her see.

In this space not of my own sounds of cracked whips on past backs are now shoes trotting on black cement. 

In this space.

Not of my own.


You mount a horse and cover the streets with shit in the name of policing. You, your unit, your history, both of and not of mine.

In this space not of my own police brutality is not a new act of oppression,

it is one that spans back way before the title of officer was ever obtained by man

It lived in the capturer

In the enslaver,

It lives in the descendants of

In the classroom,

In the oval office,

In the streets…

On mounted horses

Make them see


In this space not of our own there are attachments, more like an anchoring of things to muscle memory. And yes, there are some sweet sounds and scents, and the gravy is thick and creamy just like Jerome used to make it, but there are no pleasantries with the police. Only new flexes of my muscles activated by this notion that somewhere in Black skin lives chaos, turmoil, and the need to be controlled.

Consumed.

Picked and plucked.

In the streets

Make her see

In the streets

They will see

In the streets

We all see

But make sure she sees

In this space not of our own I ask, “How can one be so good at it?”

At trampling out our spirit. 

So good at raping our culture and excising the fruit

So good at being so

Fucking

Bad.

In this space not of my own you are allowed to mount a horse and call it protection. You can prance the streets with this notion of crowd control for “my” safety. But who is the crowd if not the locals?

And who is the audience if not the white hopefuls?


In the streets…

Make them see

With passive aggressive forces

On mounted horses.



NEXT PAGE     HOME