A Bajan, who lives in the United States, has penned a poem and created a short film about the racial injustices there.
Zack Browne, who himself was a victim of police brutality, penned It Doesn’t Matter days after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
The poem, which has now evolved into a short film given the initial response to it, has close to 100,000 views.
The 33-year-old left Barbados at age six. He said he visits every couple years. Zach grew up in St James but right now my family is in St Philip. He said his fondest memories of the island are the great food and Miami Beach.
Zach was raised in New York but currently lives in California. He is an award winning creative writer in the advertising industry, with experience working on global brands like NBA 2K, Hershey’s and United Airlines.
He is the son of Herbert Browne who is a Bajan and Laurel Browne who was born in the United States and also taught Art at Harrison College. Other relatives Zack has in Barbados are: Darnley Browne (grandfather, 93); Michael & Emelda Browne (uncle & aunt); Richard & Angela Kellman (uncle & aunt); Sharon Yearwood (aunt) and Sandra Browne (aunt).
Zack spoke to Bajan Vibes in an exclusive interview. He explained how the poem came about.
“Before the police officers had been arrested, they had announced that they weren’t going to arrest them and I was enraged. I was on a work call at the time and I was just scribbling my thoughts down. Then I said let me organise this and put it out there to let people know how I feel about being Black in America. It’s not fair.
He added: “It was a poem that I casually posted on Instagram and I got a lot of positive responses from it. A couple days went by and it was really resonating with people so I said let me just make this bigger than some words on my Instagram story. Then I reached out to some of my colleagues and created the film.”
The entire process took about five days. He worked with art director Alfonso Ruiz and editor Carlos Crooks, Isiah Rustad, Luis Pena and APM Music.
Zack said the reception and positive feedback has been humbling.
“I feel great that my words are resonating with so many people: black, brown, white. I am getting overwhelming support from a lot of people. I work in advertising which is predominately a white industry so I have a lot of White colleagues they have no idea how it actually is . . . They know me they know I am not a criminal. They know I’m not a quote on quote bad person but I still deal with the police and those same fears. When I posted it everybody was re-tweeting it.”
He has since written a second poem called I Didn’t Fight Back which is about the ordeal he encountered at the hands of New York Police while he was a senior at college.
Zack recalls the horrid night:
“In 2008 I was a victim of police brutality in Queens, NY. A group of police officers targetted me and assumed I was a part of a scuffle that was happening down the street. If you know me, you know that’s not me. Without listening to me proving that I had nothing to do with it, they rushed me, threw me against a chain link fence and struck my hands with their batons so I’d fall and when I did, they grinded and dragged my face against the concrete. Luckily, my dear friend Susie, saw what was happening, ran over and jumped on one of the cop’s back to stop them.
“She’s 4’11. Bloody, beaten and confused, they put me in cuffs and arrested me for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Susie was taken in too. I spent the night in jail and when I got out, I had to scramble to find a lawyer to help me fight the charges and get my record expunged before it messed up my future.
He continues: “Unfortunately at the time, I was more worried about my future than I was my present. I didn’t go after the officers who profiled and attacked me (I should have). I didn’t sue the city (I should have). I didn’t even tell people (I should have). I just wanted it to be over with it. I wanted to forget it ever happened. But it did. And now more than ever I realise how lucky I was to walk away alive from that commonly fatal run in with the police.”
Zach said at the time of the encounter and the following days he just wanted to put the experience behind him.
“Back then people cared but they didn’t really, really care. It was known in New York that the cops are crocked and that these things happen all the time. When it happened I was more worried about my future than my present. I didn’t want the arrest to mess up any opportunities I had coming down the line.
He explained: “My biggest fear was not getting a job, not getting loans. I was quick to find a lawyer and just get my record expunged so that that incident didn’t exist. In hindsight I should have fought back. I should have sued the City and try to get those police officers to pay the consequences. What they did was just unjust.”
Zack said sadly when he saw the video of the incident which caused George Floyd’s death he was not surprise.
“I wasn’t surprised which is terrible because what happened is not right. That is what really put me over the edge and put in my mind to put something out there and add my voice to let people understand it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or where you are from if you are Black in this country, you are a target.”
The African-American is glad to see what is happening in US since he believes it can only bring about meaningful change at this stage.
“There are protest every day in every state. Things are happening slowly which is great because I don’t think this has happened where there is literally protest in every State. Online is just flooded with people supporting and understanding the cause trying to do what they can and use their voices to accelerate the change. We are still a long way away from equality and ending racism which I doubt will ever end. But we are definitely making progress now,” Zack told Bajan Vibes. (IMC)
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