MS+Assistant+Principal+Erica+Jones

Photo courtesy of yearbook

MS Assistant Principal Erica Jones

Untitled

For Bruce

 

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

and male

and tattoos

which meant threat

and monster

inhuman

 

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 

from death

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

and live

and dream

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

and red

I dream of a long life

but I feel that my days

are numbered

 

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

the pain

or the police

or your silence

your indifference

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.

this is what keeps me up at night:

 

that I have snippets of my brother’s eulogy

already written in my head.

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