This post is not an act of gratitude. I am not feeling grateful, having trouble feeling a sense of gratefulness, a sense of pride for this country.
In a little under two days, I watched a statistic become a physical entity. On average, a Black man is murdered every 28 hours. In a little under two days, I was forced to watch Alton Sterling and Philando Castile die on a computer screen. I watched them be murdered by the very people I have grown up believing they would protect me. In cold blood. Like a circus act, or a scene out of the Hunger Games. I stared at post after post of videos of men face down and face up, blood drenching their shirts, eyes blank, with captions like “so horrible” and “#AltonSterling”. And in Alton Sterling, I saw Romell. I saw my Dad, my cousins, my uncles, friends. And I felt confused. How am I not safe? How is my family not safe?
Black and Brown bodies. Their deaths on display because Americans love a good shock. Executions used as supplementary evidence on CNN, displayed over and over. Americans stare blankly, mumble “that is so horrible” or “well he DID have a gun”, and flip the channel to Modern Family.
I wish I could say that these deaths make me want to fight back, but I can’t grieve fast enough to make a plan of action. I can’t attend a protest for Philando Castile if I am still in utter shock over Alton Sterling. I’m forced to read their last words next to a hashtag, another name to put on a shirt, but it doesn’t matter how much I shout and scream #BlackLivesMatter, they will keep killing us.
I feel tired. I’m tired of feeling like a trending topic. I’m tired of allies, both White AND Non-Black, comment on how “terrible” this situation is. I’m tired of hearing from friends and colleagues who mention angrily that there is still someone in their lives who shouts #AllLivesMatter. I’m tired of feeling frightened every time my partner glares at police officers because they could take it the wrong way and he will be next. I’m tired of waiting for the next hashtag so people can ask, “oh, BLM movement is still happening?” I’m tired, and my heart hurts.
And with that exhaustion comes shame. The “allies” that I critique share the same characteristics as me. I am not vocal for those in Iraq, Syria, Medina. My Facebook shares are my only acts of resistance. We all are guilty of purposefully reducing human dignity and human life to a photo share. Trending topics don’t stop ISIS from bombing the 2nd holiest site to Muslims and don’t stop the media from calling it Radical Islam. I still can’t breathe. I can no longer keep my hands up. When will our world be given time to heal? Will we always be subjected to this violence?
My action will be self-care. Prayer. I cannot advocate for myself if I am surrounded by the very images drowning me. I must surround myself with people who care for me, support me, and remind me that the world is not filled with people who believe they have the power to determine who can stay and live on this Earth. I will ignore those that tell me “not all cops are bad” and “not all White people are racist”. I will heal from these public executions, because my life depends on it.
See below for ways you can participate in self-care during this time: