It Had To Be Said

if we burn you burn with us

another day, another death, another funeral, another march, another protest, another militarized attack/response, another news cycle calling black people thugs and criminals, another shouting match on social media, another call for peace, another demand to forget and move on, another day in the life of a black american. i am depleted.

my blackness is not a crime. my insistence that you see me as god sees me is not blasphemous. my demanding of equal protection under the law is not illegal. i am american. i am black american. i am a child of the diaspora. i am a child of god. my blackness is not a crime.

there is an african proverb that says until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story. black america is starving from all the lies we’ve been fed. it’s time we changed our diet. america is in need of a new storyteller.

i get it, your american dream was never meant to include me. i understand, my existence is an inconvenience you tolerate because legalized slavery has fallen out of favor. i know, you wish you could sweep my history and all the ways you are responsible for my personal pain under the rug.

nogoodcops
photo courtesy of AP

 

you have legislated that i can’t learn, well, at least not as well as your kids learn. i can’t own property, at least not in the same neighborhood as you. i can’t have a successful career, at least not with the same level of success as you. i can’t lead, at least not in a way that threatens your power structure. i can’t speak up, at least not in a way that takes you to task for all the ways you have undermined my ability to thrive. and yet, still i rise. you mad, bruh?

you, america, have lynched me, raped me, beaten me, sold me, drowned me, mocked me, burned me, stolen from me, and ignored me. and yet, still i rise. after you have thrown your hardest punch – a systemic effort to criminalize me in every single way imaginable – i took your punch and laughed in your face. now i want to throw a few of my own. oh, that’s not how the game is played?

centuries of deaths of black men and women at the hands of those in power have taught us power can’t be trusted. we cannot afford to trust in a system that polices itself, protects its own, and then hands out commendations for bravery and sacrificial service in a war zone of its own making. my death, my brothers’ deaths, my sisters’ deaths should not be prized trophies to mount on your wall. 

photo courtesy of AP
photo courtesy of AP

as we watch the aftermath of yet another unexplained, unnecessary death at the hands of a brutal, ruthless policing force, we are expected to sit through lectures on respectability and civility. choke. we are shown images on loop of the same few hundred people helping themselves to necessities while the media ignores the thousands of beautiful black protesters who marched through the streets asking to be seen and heard. choke. we read the racist headlines which seek to define our experience through the imperial lens of white supremacy. choke. we hear the echos of hate-filled words that characterize us as everything but children of god. choke. we are reminded that justice is not for us but compliance is. choke.

every fire begins with smoke. as you feed the fire, the smoke grows thicker until it makes it impossible to breathe or see. that smoke gives way to flames. those flames feed off everything in their path, sucking up all the oxygen in the room until breathing is not an option. if there is enough fuel, the fire explodes until everything in its path is consumed. 

we are choking on the smoke of the fires of injustice, racism, and violence. if our broken system continues to feed this fire, it will explode. and as the mockingjay said, fire is catching. if we burn, you burn with us. lord have mercy on us all. 

 

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1 Comment

  1. April says:

    Beautifully written Risha! My rage captured perfectly!

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