If you haven’t turned on the news recently, you wouldn’t know that another innocent black life has been brutally taken by yet another police officer who couldn’t give less of a shit about who he hurts, why he hurts, and who George Floyd would have been before he was murdered.
Disclaimer: Things are about to get emotional here, and if you’re not interested then I highly recommend you check out one of my fluffier articles. Trust me, there are plenty and I would totally appreciate it. As the days go by I realize that I’ve got to get my feelings out now. I won’t be posting the video that was taken from a civilian trying to document what truly happened that day, because you can find it on numerous social media platforms. Regardless, I’d recommend watching it before you read this so that we are all on the same page as to why I am in such disarray about this whole situation.
I was only a child when Trayvon Martin was killed over a bag of Skittles on his way home. I sat equally hurt and confused as the news cycled the story. I was confused because he looked so young, full of life, and I remember the photo they shared of him with that toothy smile that looked so joyful. “Why would someone shot him? He’s just a kid.” I thought. My Mom was at her usual place when something monumental happened, arms folded over one another while she stares at the TV being spoon fed bits of information; expect this time she was sobbing. The magnitude of the crime didn’t fully hit me until I saw the Ferguson riots, which was a direct result of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Before 2014 I hadn’t been exposed to the full extent of police brutality and there wasn’t this constant fear of imminent danger when came to all kinds of law enforcement.
I am growing up in a generation where guns and the people who wield them scare us more than they should. Growing up young and black in America means that we’ve had to grow up faster despite our parents trying to provide some sense of innocents that every child should have in their life. We’ve had to have conversations about how to act around people, how to keep your hands were people can see them when your walking in the store, and to not give people reason to question your honesty. Have your parents ever had to sit you down and make sure you know how to come home alive? I’ve directly and indirectly had that same conversation more times in the last few years, because people will always see me as more of a threat than a person. Life doesn’t just go back to normal after the hashtag fades from people’s feeds, when the names start to pile up, or when justice is hopefully received.
Still the question bites at your ankles like a demon inching closer and closer. “Am I next?”
Throughout my life I’ve had these fears that constantly tipped the scale of irrational to unimaginably cruel, and recently it’s become difficult to distinguish which of these fears scares me more. It’s stupid, but when I was younger I always had this fear of getting lost or separated. It stemmed from a single experience that felt as if it lasted hours, and yet it still frightens me to this day even if everyone is simply a phone call away. Years passed and the feeling that childhood was everlasting slipped through my fingers like hot sand, and death became a reality. As a child I lost both of my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and cousins all within 10-12 years. Death was terrifying to me and there was nothing above it. What if I was in a plane crash, a car accident, or a worse? My irrational side just made everything worse. For example, I have this fear of losing my hearing to the point I’ll never hear my siblings laugh again or jam out to concerts again. In my defense, I grew up with a grandfather who turned the television up to ridiculously high volumes and was constantly asking you to repeat something you said. Going deaf, especially at my age is highly unlikely but flow with me here. It’s all still fear that has the ability to send me spiraling.
The point I’m trying to make is that fear is fear despite how much you let it control you. It still follows you, influences all your decisions, and has the overwhelming advantage when it comes to paralyzing you into become nothing but a shell of who you once were.
But here’s the big one…What if I end up like all the men and women who look like me, who’ve been killed without justice. The one’s who were not ready to say goodbye. What if I’m killed on a deserted road, cornered without anywhere to go, or simply walking home. So far away that my own Mother won’t know I’m gone until I wind up on the news, in the morgue, or another hashtag? I don’t want to be another cops excuse or justification for not admitting their unmistakable racism and biased! It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it sure as hell isn’t the way in which anyone should go about living. I want to live, not survive! I want my siblings to be able to be alive without the fears that I have, but how is that even possible in a country that hates us?
I refuse to bury my little brother. I refuse to bury my little sisters. Enough!