Robert Glasper Speaks Up On The 1 Year Anniversary Of Eric Garner's Death
Today, at approximately 4 p.m. EST, the world marks the 1 year anniversary of Eric Garner's death. Wrenched to the ground by NYPD officers and choked to death even as he gasped, repeatedly, "I can't breathe," his death was an unjust, state-sanctioned murder and his last words have become a rallying cry for those who protest police brutality and racial injustice.
So much has happened in the past 365 days, and so much of it is difficult to bear. From the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the Ferguson case of Michael Brown to the killings of Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and nine church-goers in Charleston, the lives of black Americans have been under high-profile siege, so often by those in power and so often without even a scintilla of justice. In these times, many have turned to music as a realm of both motivation and soothing escape. One of these many is jazz pianist Robert Glasper. On his recent LP Covered, Glasper performs "I'm Dying of Thirst," an extended interlude found on Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid M.A.A.D. City and in doing so allows his son and others to speak into the microphone. In a childrens' voices, we hear remembrances of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and more, all while Glasper respectfully eases from chord to chord.
Glasper's jazz rendition of "I'm Dying of Thirst" has been circulating, along with Covered, for over a month, but Okayplayer recently spoke with the pianist about his view of our world, and the perils that his children will face as black Americans. He had this to say:
When problems occur in the world, I don't think of protecting myself. I think about protecting my son. I used my son and his friends on this song because it hits you a different way coming from a child. Makes you realize how fucked up things are. We were once children and the children will one day be adults. The world is dying of thirst... and for love. Understanding.
In hopes of understanding and justice, Okayplayer invites its readers to pause and reflect today on Eric Garner and the many others who have been made victims of injustice, hatred and fear. May we soon, somehow overcome these forces and make the world a safe place for all children to live. Listen once more to live and grow. Listen again to "I'm Dying of Thirst" below.