As the cursor begs me to let my digital pen splash some metaphoric poetic bliss on the screen, I have no pretty words to paste at the moment. This black woman is tired. I’m tired of seeing black and brown bodies of our men adorn the city streets while non-melanin malicious men take a paid vacation disguised as administrative leave. How many more of us must be slaughtered before our lives truly matter? In the wake of this intense and ongoing episode of life as a black person, my heart aches daily for our men. I held my own Mr. Melanin a little tighter that night. Hoping that my love was strong enough to sustain him and my silent prayers powerful enough to protect him. In bed, next to him, listening to the drum of his heartbeat, I laid there hoping my internal screams were effective enough to keep him safe from those who perpetually perceive his hoodie as a threat. I let my looks of love linger longer when they reached his eyes that morning and every day since then. As a young girl reading the story of Emmett Till and seeing the casket carrying his unidentifiable remains, I wondered what had he done that was so wrong. What could a child have done that warranted his death? The picture of his Mom or the way she described the stench of his body will forever be with me. It was my first thought when I heard what Amy Cooper tried in that park. I fear that lynching has never ceased and that it has taken on many hidden forms since then. The upgraded noose around the neck is often caught on tape as a leg, a justified shooting, or a break-in later referred to as an accident. How did we get this far in time yet still remain so far behind it? There is no reason anyone of any race should still innately push the falsified fear button in the presence of a black man, especially when there are so many unlike us in love with everything about us EXCEPT us. Why does Amy Cooper’s call mimic the killer code-switching of Carolyn Bryant Donham? What if he hadn’t been filming? What if he didn’t know his rights? Why is it 2020 and it feels as though we are not only still fighting for the same Civil Rights Martin did, but we are now tasked with fighting for the human right to breathe? It doesn’t make sense to me that all across Black America parents are being burdened with having “the talk” with every brown baby regardless of age. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a memo stating at which age our innocent children matured into a full-on threat. However, it would be great if we did. Perhaps with enough notice, we would have more time to properly prepare preschoolers for the mental backpack they will need to carry the heavy load of systemic racial trauma on their backs evenly. Maybe I missed something. I thought this was the land of the free and not the land of selective freedom. I know what they did to Ahmaud Arbery. I saw Trayvon Martin’s unfair case. I watched what happened to Philando Castile in front of his family. I heard the desperation of Eric Garner. I felt the maternal knawing as George Floyd asked for his Mama. For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, he gasped for air. For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, he had unimaginable thoughts swirling around in his head. For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, screenshots of his children flashed across his mind. For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, he was reminded of what it means to be a Black man in America. It means unnecessary unlawful detainment. It means that the perceived threat of a person can be used against them as a justified means to be the judge, jury, and executioner in a traffic stop. It means that you may have to be witness to the most inhumane acts of protecting and serving while feeling cemented between the uneven scales of justice not designed for you. It also means that no matter how “good you are” they will only see the color of your skin that has yet to be researched and determined to have the power to do anything to anyone. There is still something within me that hopes there is a better world that welcomes my unborn brown babies instead of the invisible umbilical cord of generational oppression wrapped around their necks. However, there is more than enough black bloodshed coupled with substantial evidence to support the reality of that fantasy never coming to pass. I’m tired of having to add names to an already exhaustive list of people whose only crime was being black. I’m tired of the daily terror alert code red level of anxiety I feel when he walks out of that door. I’m tired of unconsciously holding my breath until he returns. I’m tired of looking at pixelated remains of Black men who meant the world to someone suddenly snatched from a world that never genuinely cared in the first place. I’m tired of seeing my sister’s sorrow seeping down her cheeks. I’m tired of marching in circles for the right to be black without interruption. Black Lives have ALWAYS mattered and will continue to do so even if we are all collectively finding it just a little bit more difficult these days to breathe.
Written by Tasha Huston
Social Worker and Editor