And just when we thought we had reached the lowest- when we thought we had found deepest despair and unearthed a sadness, helplessness, and confusion we don’t remember ever burying within ourselves- they hand us new shovels and urge us to keep digging. We are tired. Our bodies are tired. Our feelings are hurt.

We did not agree to this war. We did not enter knowingly. We did not agree to raise targets instead of men. We kiss our brothers goodbye, with heavy throats knowing that everywhere he walks becomes a battlefield. These soldiers, our soldiers, die with no honor. They don’t receive purple hearts or salutes. They- we- are taken as prisoners of war in a land you said was ours. You told us you loved us and then urged us to love! And in this time of horrifying injustice, you fault us for not loving you. I cannot hear your “logic” or excuses or pleas for patience over the screams of guns and mothers. I cannot love you when you continue to murder the people who taught me what love is

what it looks like

and how to do it.

You, do not look like love.

You steal, kill and destroy and then turn around and abhor me for not standing for your anthem…

My body contains a heart that has become a too heavy. And my knees are now too weak; they buckle under the burden of your transgressions.

I could not stand for your anthem even if I tried.

an anthem that, for me, sounds like a cacophony of ridicule.

And when we don’t rise you curse us, as if this ball and chain that continue to drag us lower were not put here by you! Don’t blame me for drowning when you’re doing everything in your power to make sure I do. He couldn’t breathe because of you. Meanwhile I hold my breath trying not to die while I listen in sick anticipation for the shot that will kill my brother. It has happened again and again and again. It will happen again and again and again. The sound of the fatal gunshot makes my ears ring. It disorients me every time, and the deafening silence that follows is so thick that I feel it in my chest when I inhale.

I exhale his name

then his

and then his

and each time a new name touches my tongue, it tastes more bitter than the last.

And men who have never known oppression

who have never seen the execution of their beloved

never felt dejection

never heard the agonizing sound justice makes when it is ripped away.

These men, who have never questioned the value of their lives and the value of the lives they love most

who have never known how pledging allegiance to the flag of a country that does not love you, feels like self-denial and mutilation

who have never felt the internal conflict of wanting to trust a system that has proven itself untrustworthy time and time and time again.

These men who have never known us, who have never seen our humanity or felt our agony, think they have the authority to command how our mourning manifests. Those who act against us think they have the right to dictate the nature of our reaction. Stand up, sit down, be quiet, stay home, hands up, head down, don’t threaten, trust us, be patient, calm down, use logic, don’t protest, don’t speak, don’t shout, listen up, stop complaining, change your mind, change your view, stop walking, get on the ground, get out the car, don’t show aggression, comply, don’t run, don’t stay, go there, stay here, don’t think, don’t move.

And the complacent ones now “don’t see color” when for the umpteenth year, we are still constantly reminded of our blackness. Although it is beautiful despite your damning, we don’t have the luxury of blindness you have suddenly afforded yourselves. We walk in the shadow of darkness. We see your evil clearly and still do not fear it. So open your eyes! The river is running red with blood. Your blindness is irresponsible and insulting.

Look at us while we talk to you.

You have created a problem that is quickly becoming irreversible. You’re are taking lives and futures we wont get back. You are fostering hatred and fortifying an army that never wanted to fight. We are finding new places within that we never wanted to visit. Not like this. We are burying bodies and simultaneously unearthing ourselves. You are forcing us to make these trenches. Our arms and backs and hearts and souls are tired, yes, but they grow stronger under this struggle you’ve subjected us to. What we excavate is turning into vigor under the strain of stubbornness and resistance; displaced pain shifting into potential, influence, and power.

Look down.

What we dig up is beginning to bury you.