The following is a post I began on November 25, 2014. I could not finish it because every attempt to do resulted in uncontrollable tears coupled with eyes so puffy they made it hard to view the screen. Now, a year later, I am able to come back to it and am publishing it in it’s unfinished state. I recall having a lot more to say, but those words are lost to me now. Here are the words I managed to record.
I put on my slightly too small black jeans, my black boots, my, black t-shirt, and my black jacket. I looked up the efficacy of milk in a tear-gas attack and whether or not it could be aerosolized and sprayed in the eyes and face after such an attack. I printed out my poster depicting Mike Brown’s face, emblazoned with the words “Black Lives Matter”. I packed my backpack with my firesword, lest the police turn out the street lights, my camera, so I could do my best to document this moment in history, my bandana so I could shield my face from smoke, water, trail mix, spare phone battery chargers, and my fat Sharpie so I could write the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild on bodies.
On November 24, prosecutor Robert McCulloch informed the nation that he chose not to prosecute a police officer who fired 12 shots into an unarmed kid, Mike Brown, killing that child.
My wording is intentional. McCulloch made a decision. He was in full control of the grand jury process. According to one former judge, a prosecutor can “indict a ham sandwich.” McCulloch, whose father was a police officer killed on the job by a black man, who has numerous family members who were police officers, who himself wanted to be a police officer, failed to present the case to the grand jury in a way that would cause the grand jury to indict. It’s not like McCulloch is incapable of indicting a cop; earlier this year he was able to indict a cop for hitting a suspect with a baton. McCulloch subverted the justice process for his own reasons, and I strongly believe those reasons are to do with his own personal biases.
I was not surprised. I am still not surprised. Our country was built on the notion that a black life is expendable. We’ve carried that lie from the 1700's right into 2014. It’s branded into the collective psyche. Nobody bats an eyelash when a little black girl is abducted, yet searches for non-black children go on for decades. A black woman going to jail for firing a warning shot when her abusive husband tries to attack her, yet in the same state, a man who killed a child he thought was suspicious goes free. The narrative never changes. A black life just doesn’t seem to be worth the bother for many non-black people.
My lack of surprise did not preclude my anger at this outright miscarriage of justice, this reminder that justice is not for all. I am nearly the entire red section on the feeling wheel. Nor did it do anything to staunch the grief and despair I felt. I am portions of the blue section of the feelings wheel as well.
I wanted to make my voice heard. I wanted…needed…to Do Something.
I got into my car and headed to Oakland, with a brief stop for therapy. My therapist said that I looked powerful, that the way I was holding myself and my posture looked like I was ready to take on all comers. That was the way I felt.
It is 12:38AM on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
I just got home after walking for 5 hours, yelling at the top of my lungs for many of them.
Tonight I marched in Oakland, and I vented my rage and sadness. Tonight I yelled for the voices that were silenced by the systemic racism that views blackness as a weapon and black bodies as expendable.
It is 12:44AM on Saturday, November 28, 2015. A year has passed and the reminders that black people are expendable in the eyes of this nation have not ceased. Steady is the flow of news coverage proving that blackness, in any state of action or inaction, will be met with lethal force where it is not warranted. Steady are the responses from the people who can’t help but assume a murdered black person deserved their fate, for nothing more than being born with a larger dose of melanin.
Added to this mix, we now have a presidential candidate who is dismissive of the assault of protestors at his rallies, who encourages hatred and violence, and who champions jingoism, leading polls for the Republican party nomination.
We are at a tipping point in this revolution. I am frightened that it will tip the wrong way. I cannot fathom the outcome should that happen. I just know, whatever that unfathomable outcome is, that it will result in my feeling even less safe in a country where I am already afraid that the color of my skin, my friends’ skin, my families skin, makes us targets in a war that is not of our making. Still, we are somehow the enemy.