I Have Failed You

To Alton, Trayvon, Mike, Akai, Eric and the rest of my brothers and sisters murdered in cold blood. I have failed you.

I’m not sure why or how I ended up here. How I got to a place where I thought that America, as bold and beautiful as she is, adorned with all her freedoms and fruitful opportunities; had made enough progress to the point where I no longer needed to fear being gunned down in the street by those who swore an oath to protect my life. This country has that mirage-like effect on many of us, but the fog is clearing.

I have failed you because I’ve allowed a country that I grew up in, but am not from, to pacify me and cause me to fall under the illusion of powerlessness.

I have failed you because in my pursuit of personal achievements and the ever-elusive “American Dream”, I have somehow forgotten that there still exists people in this country who are afraid of your very presence, and that fear will drive them to spill your blood onto the pavement without a second blink.

I have failed you because I have not utilized the tools, talents, and faculties that I have to the best of my ability to play a part in ensuring that your names go unforgotten. I’d somehow fallen into a deep sleep. So obsessively focused on myself, my work and my personal freedom that I completely missed the point, and that is “freedom” isn’t free unless we all have it.

As I watched Alton Sterling’s assassination last night, carried out by a high strung, eager coward who appeared to have wanted nothing more than a reason to open fire, one clear and very powerful realization came over me.

I have failed you all, simply because I forgot that it could happen to me.

The word for this disorder escapes me at the moment, but I’m sure it is of or related to the school of delusion-like illnesses. How could I let this happen? How could I not realize that in a country where unarmed black men are more than two times more likely to be killed by police officers than white men, that this could happen to me?

Recently I’d found myself thinking of fatherhood, and what a joy it will be to one day raise an extension of myself up into the world to pursue all that life has to offer. That vision halted abruptly as I heard Sterling’s murderer yell

you fucking move I swear to God!

Eager, excited, and ready to use his weapon. This is the attitude of many of this country’s police officers who cannot somehow separate their personal prejudices from the duties they swore to perform. I guess it makes sense. A fearful racist at home is still a fearful racist at work, albeit more subtle.

I have failed you, but I promise to do more.

I promise to never forget, and realize that this country has a systematic illness, and that illness cannot be cured without action.

I promise to do much more to use my voice, and get others to do the same.

I promise to show up when I’m needed, and participate in more efforts and organizations that are committed to affecting change.

I promise to vote, something that so many of us don’t do because we are once again crippled with the illusory belief of powerlessness.

I promise to wake up from my deep sleep.

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