The news has been overwhelming. I struggle to say or even think of the names of the black men and women that have been killed by police. Doing so gives me flashbacks of what they went through and waves of emotion that I just cannot deal with right now. Let us not forget our trans and other LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters that have been affected by this as well. I was going to name them all, but I couldn’t find a complete list of all of their names. How crazy is that? I don’t want to name only some of them that I remember by name (I never forget a face) because that seems unfair to all of the other people that should also be recognized and remembered. However, I did stumble across something else.
The Washington Post has a database that compiles a list of all of the people that have been killed by police in 2019 called Fatal Force. As of June 1st 2019, 1,004 people have been shot and killed by police. What does that say about the police and the way that they are trained to treat people? The majority of the victims (370) were white and male, which makes sense as black people only make up about 14% of the American population. 235 of the victims were black, which is a large number in comparison. What does that say about how black and brown people are treated in this country? In 878 of the shootings, police did not wear a body-camera. What does this tell us about the integrity and accountability of the police? These are all things I would like you to consider while you read this poem. Black lives have always and will always matter. Can you imagine the power you have? For someone to be so bothered by your very existence?
I am afraid to live alone
Because I understand true fear
The kind of fear that makes your heart palpitate, skipping every other beat
The kind of fear that numbs, turning your blood ice cold
Will my face show up on that TV screen?
“24 Year Old Shot to Death”
Will my name trend as a hashtag on Twitter?
“Unarmed, asleep in her bed”
Will my family be left alone, having been told nothing?
“After police break into her apartment”
Disgusted, Justice turned away
“Searching for a suspect”
Will people still justify my murder as a case of ‘self defense’?
“Who attempted to break into a home”
Will I be stalked and hunted down?
“In a predominately white neighborhood”
Will my story go unheard for months? Buried under a bed of lies and shady backroom deals?
Will my name be added to that long list of people?
The one we all know, without naming names
c r i m i n a l.
How was I a suspect when I did no wrong doing?
How dare she feel?
Do I dare to share my feelings?
How dare she live?
Do I dare to live?
Suspect. Sus-spect. S u s p e c t.
How dare she breathe?
Do I dare to breathe?
How dare she sleep?
Do I dare to sleep with both eyes closed?
How dare she jog?
Do I dare to go for a jog?
How dare she look out her window?
Do I dare to take a peak?
Criminal. it’s an offense. criminal.
How dare she fight back?
Do I dare to stand my ground?
How dare she exercise her freedoms?
Do I dare to go for a drive?
Thugs. dangerous. thugs.
How dare she be black and alive?
Do I dare to be black and live, alive?
I can’t breathe
Someone help me
I’m going to die here
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe.
In my last moments I wish for
Justice, no peace
How many others have been hidden?
Silenced and smothered
What happens when no one is watching the police?
When there were
No 9-1-1 calls
No white witnesses
EVEN STILL WE LIVE, THAT IS POWER