I Am Frightened.
I’m a black man who’s supposed to be willing to bring children into this world with my wife. I’m scared that either they’ll be taken away from me, or that I’ll be taken away from them. Someone else’s preconceived notions about the color of our skin are the main culprits to any black body whose name becomes a hashtag. I’m supposed to follow a specific set of rules in order to guarantee my safety and reduce the chances of conflict. Just when I learn the game, the rules change.
I Am Angry.
I want to break things. I want to punch something. I want to scream at the top of my lungs until I pass out. If I give in to my anger, I just might lose my damn life in the same way that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile did. So, I scream in private. I cry in private. I break my own things. I do these things so that I don’t become broken.
I Am Confused.
What am I supposed to do? What measures am I supposed to take in order to guarantee that I’ll reach my destination safely? Why does this keep happening? Why are these murders going unpunished? Is it the victims’ fault for being victims? What could they have done differently to ensure their lives?
I Am Tired.
I’m tired of those that ignore the obvious common thread in these injustices. I’m tired of those who try to immediately separate “good cops” from “bad cops,” yet have no problem with trying to throw all Black People into one entity. I’m tired of people not wanting to “make it about race.” I’m tired of people who consume Black media and Black culture stay quiet when Black tears are shed as a result of Black blood being drawn. I’m tired of people who want to introduce “black on black crime” as a topic of discussion, without being able to acknowledge that “black on black crime” is one of the biggest farces that they believe. Those same people who make sure that their children are told that Santa Claus isn’t real honestly believe that Crimes of Proximity are motivated and instigated by race. Those same people then use the very same preconceived notions that result in the deaths of Black Bodies as a blinder to the fact that Systemic Racism is the reason why these things happen.
I’m tired of people who look to a minority of people who do bad things and use that to justify why the larger group that they identify with deserve to be erased. I’m tired of people who “need more information” as if that will somehow justify the loss of someone’s life at the hands of someone who’s sworn to protect it. I’m tired of people who don’t understand why Black Lives Matter exists. There’s an implied “too” at the end of that statement, and I’m tired of people who refuse to understand what that means. I’m tired of anyone that replaces “Black” with “All” or “Blue” or any other adjective that isn’t the most historically oppressed group of people in this country.
I Am Conflicted.
I’m a black man who works in law enforcement. I have intimate knowledge of the fears of both sides of the coin. What I will never, ever understand is why the life of one is publicly viewed as more valuable than the life of anyone else? Both parties want to make it home to their families. Both parties don’t want to die. Why is it that I hear so much about how it’s the law enforcement official’s right to ensure that they make it home safely, when we often see that they’re the reason why the citizens that they are sworn to protect don’t have that same luxury? Why do I see situations where people of a different complexion, who are posing more of a threat, or who have actually committed crimes, are still alive to await their day in court? Even in situations where Black Bodies have committed crimes, their day in court is replaced by hot lead, or a severed spine, or a collapsed windpipe. Dylan Roof murdered nine people who were worshiping in a church, and his reward was a bulletproof vest, a fast food meal, and forgiveness from the families that he ruined.
I take pride in my profession. I do my job extremely well, and have received many commendations for the work that I do. The night that Philando Castile was murdered, a mere twenty-four hours after Alton Sterling was murdered, I found it extremely difficult to do my job effectively. I made mistakes that I’ve never made. I was not at my professional best. I couldn’t focus on providing safety for others because I didn’t feel safe, myself.
I Am Depressed.
I’ve been here before. An officer kills a black civilian. They likely aren’t indicted. On the rare occasion that they are, they are not found guilty of any wrongdoing. Their agency then gives the family of the bereaved a monetary settlement. A literal price for a life. Just when I finally complete the mourning process of yet another Black body taken by someone who’s trained to be better, it happens again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Another hashtagged name. Another conversation about lack of empathy. Another legal proceeding resulting in another lack of conviction. The world keeps turning, and I lose more hope.
I Am Empty.
My wife reads another story about another black body being murdered by another person who doesn’t hold that body in an equal regard to their own. She cries. I console her, but that consolation is empty. The fact is that I can’t promise her that I will always be able to come home. I can’t promise her that everything will be okay. I can’t promise her shit except that I’ll do my best to try. I promise to continue protecting her until I die. However, the people who promised to protect me don’t hold themselves to the same strict standards that I do for myself. That prevents me from being effective as a husband.
I just watched one of my best friends get married. It was a beautiful ceremony that I’m honored to have been a part of. Being able to witness the forging of a family is a special experience. They are currently on their honeymoon, and instead of being able to fully enjoy their time, I’m certain that this brand new family is having the same conversation that I’m having with my wife. The same conversation that other black families are having within their walls. Our happiness, our joy, can be stripped away from us in mere seconds. This is our reality.
I Am Resilient.
Despite all of these killings, I’m still here. I have to be. I cannot live in this country as a citizen paralyzed in fear. I have to live because… I just have to. I have to remain positive. I have to remain strong. Our lives may be temporary, but our legacies are eternal. I draw on the achievements of other Black people, because those achievements cannot be taken away from us. I draw on the power of my faith to push myself forward. I draw on the power of my family to continue to honor them. I draw on the power of my people to be a representative of something good. Through that power, I produce my own legacy. Whether it be via my social media posts, this blog, my fellowship, or any other way that I can touch someone, I make sure that I’m always positive, As these tragedies come, I take my time to mourn and reflect, but I also take that time to galvanize myself. When I’m recharged, I have to hit the ground running. We all have to. We need to. For all of those hashtagged names that no longer are afforded that luxury, we have to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves.
I Am Black.
I don’t have a choice. I just want to live, man.