For Korryn Gaines

[Photo description: Outdoors. Daytime. On a porch. A woman, Korryn Gaines, is seen from the neck up in a selfie. She is looking into the camera and smiling. She has braces on her teeth and sunglasses on her head. Behind her, a toddler whose face is blurred holding a baby bottle.]

Dear Obatalá,

May I never be the type of person who barges into someone’s home unwelcomed, in full riot-gear, prepared for war, claiming a minuscule reason for doing so: that someone didn’t pay their parking tickets.

May I never be so detached from my own heart and in such a state of cowardice that I can fire a gun at a mother holding her child in her arms, even if, like a true child of Ogun, she could hold that child and stand her ground while firing off a shotgun in a way that would make Black Mary slap her knee and shout “Hallelujah!”

Please let my fear of harming a child always outweigh my bloodlust.

Please never let me be so arrogant as to believe that I actually retain my right to call myself human after committing an act as blasphemous as firing a gun at a baby.

May I always be the kind of person that has enough humanity and enough sense to find a better alternative.

May mercy never be so foreign a concept to me that my blood recoils at the idea.

May I have the patience police officers lacked in this situation, but somehow embraced when they were facing down Cliven Bundy and others who are not black.

May I never be so proudly two-faced and genetically hypocritical that I become like the people who praised Bundy and criticized police in that situation, but criticize Gaines and praise the police in this situation.

May I always be someone who values the living so much that I’m unwilling to murder a person after I barged into their space and was shocked to discover that they weren’t going out like that.

May I never use anyone’s disability against them, much less as a justification for obliterating them.

Never let me be the kind of person who could justify such terror with a peculiar foolishness that would have never taken root if my intentions were pure.

Never allow me to be in concert with the hatred, sadism, and violence of those who refuse to be witnesses and who would, in these cases, prefer to err on the side of horror.

Please allow me to always retain my compassion, which will allow me to sabotage all efforts to transform me into the very same demons who have pledged their missing souls to my destruction.

And Obatalá:

Please protect Korryn’s family from the jaws of the State. May the oppressor’s teeth no longer have the ability to gnash and may Korryn’s children be spared additional grinding in its voracious mouth.

And please, please allow Korryn rest peacefully given how rightfully she’s earned it.

Asé.

Selah.

From the Washington Post:

“‘Although Black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality,’ said Kimberlé Crenshaw, director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, in her ‘Say Her Name’ report on black women killed by the police issued last year. ‘Yet, inclusion of Black women’s experiences in social movements, media narratives, and policy demands around policing and police brutality is critical to effectively combating racialized state violence for Black communities and other communities of color.’

Gaines is the ninth black woman shot and killed by police so far in 2016, according to a Washington Post database tracking fatal police shootings — a number set to soon surpass 2015, when a total of 10 black women were shot and killed by police.”

(H/T Kamakura Faure/Tanisha Green)