Unbearable Weight

Yesterday, another Black American was executed on the streets by police.


9/20/16, Charlotte, NC: Keith Lamont Scott, age 43

I have not looked closely at the details of this latest shooting in North Carolina yet. How a father sat waiting in a car. How a gun book in a poor black man’s hand became life-threatening in other men’s eyes.

How frail my nation, quaking from its birth in fear of the literacy of black voices. When has a book in a black man’s hand not been seen as provocation for violence?

Witness North Carolina’s own penal code, passed in 1830-1:

Therefore,  Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same,

…That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

But that is knowledge for another time. Today all I can picture is Scott’s young child, skipping home from school towards a beloved parent and finding death instead.

I cannot yet endure knowing more.

9/16/16, Tulsa, OK: Terence Crutcher, age 40

I have not read yet all the details out of Tulsa, where a police department with a documented history of planting drug evidence has just planted released drug evidence against their latest victim.

Since I learned that even from the air above, a policeman in a chopper had concluded that the black man having car trouble looked like “a bad dude,” these words from the slain man’s twin sister have played on repeat in a corner of my mind:

“The big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.

“That big bad dude — his life mattered. His life mattered. His life mattered, and the chain breaks here. We’re going to stop it right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here.”

But that is an echo for another time.

Today all I can manage is awareness that a white woman shot a black man even as he was being tasered—and knowing the weight that rape culture myths (of black male rapaciousness, of white female vulnerability) add to racism’s already-intolerable violence.

9/14/16, Columbus, OH: Tyre King, age 13

I do not want to know more than I already did not want to know about another boy murdered in Ohio—certainly not autopsy reports already giving the lie to police already known to lie.

At 13, my own body was already far larger and stronger than King’s 5ft, couldn’ta-weighed-100lbs-sopping-wet-with-rocks-in-his-pockets frame. And this too is a memory for another time.

Because today?

Today I have not yet grieved enough for Tamir to begin to grieve for Tyre to know how to prepare myself to grieve for the (please let it not be)-inevitable next child.

♦ ♦ ♦

All this that I cannot bear the weight of? Is as nothing, next to the weight I do not carry and so many of my beloveds must.

Not my skin.
Not my kin.
Not my risk.

Today I take up space today in solidarity and anguish with those from whom our society demands the unendurable, and I say:

Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. 

Keith Lamont Scott’s life.
Terence Crutcher’s life.
Tyre King’s life.

Black children’s lives. Black fathers’ and black brothers’ lives. Black women’s lives. Black trans and queer lives.

No exceptions, no conditions.

Every. Black. Life.


blm-scroll

[Featured image: Underwater sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor, commemorating the African lives lost during the Middle Passage. via]

16 thoughts on “Unbearable Weight

  1. Awesome read. I tried to comment on this post but for some reason it didn’t go through. But anyways, this is an issue I feel often goes dismissed or not noticed. People brush it off saying we need to train police officers more, but that’s not the point. We can’t wait for police officers to finally accept black culture. By the time they do, many blacks will be dead. We need to end this NOW. Great post. I recently touched on the same subject, talking about why #alllivesmatter isn’t relevant. Check out my most recent post, it could of interest to you considering the similar subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re quite right: recognizing and acknowledging, in word and deed, the full humanity of Black Americans cannot be reduced to a training issue, nor are human rights issues that can wait on a privileged person’s comfort.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I’ll be sure to check out your recent post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think cops need to spend three months out of the year doing community service with no guns. I think they should feed people at a homeless shelter, work a domestic violence shelter, or clean up the city. I think they need to do something where they interact with the humans in their city directly with no judgments. They need to work closely with the community they are protecting so they see how human they are. So they break down stereotypes in their mind. It needs to be every year because they will forget.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How does that first step go? “Admit you have a problem”? Any solution will be more complicated than that, obviously, but no solutions can be sincerely attempted until the true depth of the issue is acknowledged.

      Like

    2. And you’re quite right: none of this is a “once and you’re done” issue. Rooting out individual, systemic, and internalized racism requires efforts that is constant, continual, and actively worked at. Like most human endeavors.

      Like

  3. VERY well said my friend.
    When did anyone say it was best to shoot someone, anyone, suspect or not, so many times the only outcome would be death? When did life become so unimportant?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only pray and work for the day when such questions are not rhetorical! Certain lives have always been deemed unimportant, except as sources of plunder.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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