MS Assistant Principal Erica Jones
I spend a not so insignificant portion of my darkest moments imagining what I would say at my brother’s funeral.
how I would eulogize him
how I would explain how the police officers
didn’t see his love for lucky charms cereal
saturday morning cartoons
that he was a division one college athlete
that, at the age of 35, his favorite movie is still
The Land Before Time
how do I explain that
they saw only Black
which meant threat
Claudia Rankine says,
because white men can’t
police their imagination
black men are dying
I think of this more often than I would like to.
the guilt of knowing that I can do nothing to protect him
his degree will not save him
my ivy league degrees–plural–can not save him
cannot save me
will not save me
or white supremacy
from fitting the description
I stick my hands out the window whenever I get pulled over, he says
I keep my ID on me even when I go for a walk in the park across the street
Lately, I been takin my ID out of my wallet so I’m not pulling anything black out of my pocket
Yeah, no excuses, he says
I left ameriKKKa to save my life
I left so I could breathe
without the shadow of death
constantly on my back
I left so I could be free
how do we live in a world that’s not ready for us? bell hooks asks
how do we live when we are always surrounded by death?
videos of souls leaving Black bodies
no, I do not fear covid-19
no, I do not fear an indefinite lockdown
no, I do not fear a global pandemic
my global pandemic is you.
I fear white fragility
I fear weaponized white tears
I fear red and blue lights
I fear genocide
I fear phone calls from home in the middle of the night
silence on the other end
heads, you lose; tails, you lose
close your eyes—nightmare
open your eyes—nightmare
there is no escape.
I dream in color
and live in Black and white
I dream of a long life
but I feel that my days
have you ever mourned someone while they’re alive?
have you ever grieved a death that has not yet happened?
I don’t know who or what will
kill me first
or the police
or your silence
your inability to face your own racism
your refusal to acknowledge Black Lives Matter.
your reluctance to get your knee off of my neck.
this is what keeps me up at night:
that I have snippets of my brother’s eulogy
already written in my head.