To My Child

To my dear child,

Sometimes I dream of you, a curious, playful child, vowing to take the world and turn it on its heels, to take what you can and build, grow, and change. I dream that your name will be unique, and you will wear it with pride, like an emblem on your chest. It will compliment your dark, brown skin, warm to the touch, and catch like the knots in your wild, curly hair.

I think of all the things that you can be. And I wonder if I will ever have the chance to meet you.

I wonder if I will see your name flash across the screen as you walk down the aisle to graduate, or flashed across the tv screen next to, Say Their Name. Will you make it to your 18th birthday? Or will you live forever, among the names of those who died before or after you?

What will you look like? Will you be brown, like me, or wish you were white? Will you wish to change the texture of your hair, or lighten your beautiful brown skin?

I wonder if you will come to me crying because your classmate called you a nigger. Will you wake up in the middle of the night screaming and scared because you are afraid that you will be hanged.

Will you be able to play outside, because it’s too hot in the wintertime? Will the trees have died, the soil turned to ash? Will I ever see your face turn up in delight as you taste dripping honey, or the laughter when a blueberry is smashed on your face?

I wonder if white supremacy will begin to be normalcy.

I wonder if you will become numb to pain, to be saturated in the hate that is this country. I wonder if it will pierce into your veins and you will feel nothing, see nothing when people like you drown in floods or cross a border.

I’m afraid the trauma of my own life will hurt you as my mother’s hurt me and her mother’s hurt her.

 

I’m afraid you will never exist.

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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.

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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:

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How Many?

Lately, I have seen and heard many comments (either pertaining to me or about a friend) that have more than angered me. In the wake of Ferguson and the amount of Black people that are dying at the hands of white police, the open dialogue of derogatory tweets, cultural movements in fashion, Twitter, etc…the world seems to be tensing with every moment. Being away in Rome has blunted the effect, but my Facebook is overwhelmed by what seems like two different sides: the #BlackLivesMatter and the #AllLivesMatter.

I have friends of all different shapes and sizes and races, and I discuss race with each and every one of them, whether they want to or not. Some of that dialogue, I am aware, is often uncomfortable to some. This I can understand; we live in a world where we were taught that racism no longer exists. The time where people of color hang from trees and are mobbed in restaurants and drinking from different water fountains is “long” gone.

Well, it’s not.

Like many things, racism is a manifestation of a long history in America. It takes many forms and continues to evolve with each generation. Picture yourself: you are sick, very sick, and you decide to go to the doctor. You have a bacterial infection in your body, they say.

For example, you go to the doctor, and your doctor prescribes a medication that he tells you must be taken for 21 days. You obediently take the medication for 14 days, but as you start to feel better, getting back into the swing of your life, you forget to take the rest of the medication. You are healed, but not completely.

We have taken steps to prevent many aspects of racism that my grandparents and great-grandparents had to suffer through. Slavery is gone, the Civil Rights Act is in effect, Affirmative Action is thriving. But, we didn’t take the medication for the prescribed number of days. The virus is still in the body, slowly reproducing until it can take over your body again, and this time, it is much stronger.

That virus is the nuanced racism today. I still am asked questions that exemplify that I am different, unusual, or unique. I am all of those things, but they all have nothing to do with my race.

MY PEOPLE ARE DYING. Am I supposed to stand back and pretend that everything is okay, everything will fall into place? I have to remember another name, and one day, it could be someone I know and love. It could be me. It doesn’t even matter how I am portrayed in the media anymore, I don’t care if they were a “thug”, I just want to wake up one morning and not hear another African-American has died at the hand of white police, and are not receiving repercussions for their actions. Is this an accident? Because it doesn’t seem to be. Police brutality is an issue nationwide, so why are only African-Americans dying?

We riot because our hearts are heavy. Our souls hurt. For years and years we are subjected to oppression in the most systematic ways, and I believe that many of us are tired of being in the hole. We are not fighting back, we are fighting for our life.

Do we not deserve life?

 

 

 

Phot courtesy of Buzzfeed and Sait Serkan Gurbuz / Reuters