If you have a conscious bone in your body, you know that Assata Shakur has been in Cuba for the past 40 years in political asylum. As the United States and Cuba work towards better diplomatic relations, a lot of folks like myself are wondering what will become of the 67 year-old revolutionary.
Hip-Hop intellect Micky Factz weighed in on Facebook, “While ya'll clamor about Bobby Shmurda, The USA & Cuba are in talks for diplomatic relations... Meaning the capture of Assata Shakur... Whom the FBI has as the number 1 female terrorist in the world...because she "allegedly" murdered a state trooper. She escaped prison and has been in cuba for 40 years. Shmoney dance to that.”
In 2013, I penned a piece called called, “Hip-hop’s infatuation with Assata Shakur: It’s complicated,” where I talked about rap music’s love of the political icon. On the other side, the police and their supporters in New Jersey have wanted Assata’s head forever and have gone so far as to make her the first woman added to their list of living terrorists. And, then put a price on her head for $2 million. A member of the Black Liberation Army, Shakur was convicted in 1977 of the 1973 for the murder of state trooper Werner Foerster. The details of the case have been highly debated to say the least and her supporters maintain she is the victim of a corrupt justice system.
Certainly, Assata’s case take on a new context if we look at the present times and how justice has played out recently with video recording, technology and highly questionable policing. Then bundle that with, COINTELPRO, a national legacy of police brutality and abuse of power, and the notion that those police tactics were infinitely more sinister in the 1960’s. We as “a people” need to collectively rethink - not demonize - Assata. But, demonizing persists as the American way, whether you’re a dead young Black man or an elderly living Black woman.
It has been proven several times over, based on forensic evidence, that she was shot twice by police with her hands up. Sound familiar? It actually sounds like Assata deserves reexamination indeed. We live in times where there is violence perpetrated against who speak out. New York Police have even petitioned for permission to mass arrest protestors without warning.
All of this on President Obama's watch.
What a quandary.