Over the past week I have avoided this blog post. Just didn’t have the energy to move my fingers across the keyboard. I can’t run from it and writing helps me process things and for my mental health I need to process this lump in my chest. I gotta get it out, gotta purge my system of this toxin that has infected me. I don’t know where to start and I don’t know what to address or what to say or how to say so I just sat down and let the writer in me write. My 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Scharfenberg would be disappointed in my grammar and punctuation but processing such a great loss leaves little energy for editing.
I’m sick….and tired. I’m sick of the new hash tags, the new names I have to memorize and make a point to remember. I add to the long unbearable list Alton and Philando. I’ve watched the videos and watched their lives burn out on the small screen of my Iphone. The emotions are familiar and the process is the same. I see it, watch it, ingest it and move on. I’m numb to it for a day or two and then out of nowhere the mourning begins. Last week was a tough week because I had to mourn the loss of two who could have been me, two people who could be my sons. I remind myself to stop the thinking process at myself. Those two men could have been me…I have to consciously leave my sons out of it; Can’t let my stream of consciousness go down that tributary.
I wonder what Alton and Philando were thinking. Did they realize they were dying.
I am sick and tired.
I did this for Trayvon, and young Tamir. I wondered if they knew they were dying after they had been shot. Did they realize they would expire with their loved ones away from them unaware of what was happening to them? I shut that off as well. It’s too painful….too familiar. I managed to remain numb for about a day.
On the way to work I turn on the radio hoping to hear someone speak to what I’m feeling. I turn on the Steve Harvey morning show hoping to get the balm I need to put on my wounds. They play Marvin Gay’s song, “What’s going on?” I like Marvin’s calming voice and I drive to work on cruise set exactly to the speed limit. Marvin wrote this song in the ‘60s in response to all that was going on then. It’s a good song with some distance so I can just sing and stay numb and not feel the past 2 days. Then his words strike me. “Mother, mother, mother there’s far too many of you crying. Brother brother, brother there’s far too many of you dying…” Those words shatter my numb exterior and the flashes of Alton and Philando rush back to me. The video of Alton’s sobbing 15 year old son and Philando’s crying girlfriend swarm in to my head and I crack no longer numb to the feelings that erupt and pour out of my eyes. I weep and mourn for the lost lives of two more like me. I’m tired and it’s not even 8:00am.
I gather myself and head in to work. I pray no one says anything or looks at me the wrong way because now that I have cried the tears have washed away the numbness and replaced it with anger. I arrive at my cubicle and begin work in my corner 15 yards away from anyone and I’m relieved.
I work in a small company of about 100 people and I am the only Black employee. I pray that no one says anything to me and when the day ends and no one has I am mad. Mad because no one understands I am in mourning and need some comfort. No one says ANYTHING about what has happened and that saddens me.
Then Dallas happens.
I pray the assassin isn’t Black but that prayer goes unanswered. Now the familiar process in the media begins. Microphones are shoved in the faces of Alton’s mother and Philando’s girlfriend and they are expected to call for calm. It is their role to stop their mourning and call for peace. Rodney King did it. Trayvon’s parents did it, Tamir’s family did it and now it is their turn. They step up and with grace do the expected. They say how heartbreaking it is for the lives of 5 innocent police officers to have been lost and they call for calm. I can’t help but wonder why no one from law enforcement stepped up the day before and said how senseless the killings of Alton and Philando were or why no one from the families of the officers are expected to speak or expected to say how heartbreaking it was that we lost the lives of these two men. The injustice is multiplied by the imbalance which intensifies the pain. Something else I push to the back of my brain.
Last week when re-telling my story of being born 2 weeks after the riots in Detroit someone asked me if I thought things had gotten better since my childhood in our country. I had to explain that I have come to the realization that about every 20-30 years we see this vicious cycle repeat. In the late 60’s we saw it, we saw it in the early 90’s with Rodney King and we’ve seen it more recently with Trayvon,Tamir Oscar, Ranisha, Eric, Michael, John, and so many others. But last week to me was the worst I’ve experienced and witnessed.
Last week felt like rock bottom. I pray that it is. The tragedies of the 7 lives that we lost last week have got to be the greatest depth we can reach. From pain this red hot comes change. I have got to believe that cause I’m sick and I’m tired and I can’t breath at a depth greater than last week.