“Ronald Greene (I’m Your Bother)” by Darrell Kelley
“Ronald Greene” is the recent single in the series of Darrell Kelley’s musical crusade against unjustified deaths, involving police and African American subjects. This one is particularly saddening and dismaying, to say the least, when you learn the details. Darrell Kelley has essentially made a career out of making music that draws attention to lesser known cases of wrongful deaths, with racial overtones. When I say career, though, let it be known that Kelley is not motivated by profit, but by morality, truth, and justice. In fact, his music is merely a backdrop to the decided urgency of his intentions.
In the case of Ronald Greene, there are many factors that make it especially tragic. One look at the post mortem photos of Ronald Greene’s injuries, are shocking and disturbing. What is known is that Ronald Greene did lead police on a high speed chase, before eventually bringing the pursuit to a halt, himself, and surrendering to police. This is where things take a fatal turn. Initially, the police had claimed that Greene had crashed, during the chase, and was killed upon impact.
This was prior to body cam footage surfacing, that the arresting officers claimed didn’t exist. The body cam footage clearly shows that the Monroe Police Department, played a much bigger role in Greene’s death, than they had originally reported. The video is a tough watch, and is highly chaotic. Experts in police protocol have reviewed the video, and unanimously agreed that excessive force was used. The overlying issue is of course that Ronald Greene is now no longer with us, and that it could have been an avoidable loss.
“Ronald Greene” is well performed and well recorded, as well as once again, being excruciatingly straightforward. The reason to listen to Kelley’s music is not to be entertained, but to be educated. His lyrics are more of an official transcript than art, and this is possibly by design. Regardless, we must give Kelley his just due. He is embodying the change, he wishes to see, instead of just preaching it.
R&B has not been exclusively associated with protest music, historically. Marvin Gaye would be a glaring example of an R&B style artist who made socially conscious music. Kelley, understandably cites Gaye as a major influence. Darrell Kelley is a talented singer, who is effective in making “Ronald Greene,” an appealing piece of music. He is sure to emphasize that the song’s content is paramount to the art.
The case of Ronald Greene is one that is particularly disquieting and honestly, infuriating. Yes, he ran from the police, potentially creating harm to other civilians in the process. To see what we do on the cam footage, is nothing short of nightmarish, though. It is a painful reminder of a very real problem. A problem that if not resolved, immediately, could ignite a chain of events that compromises social relations, and our system, irrevocably.
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