Hands up. Don't shoot.



Token Of Tiny Spaces: A Meditation On Black Life And The Police

There is nothing I can say that will make the world beautiful for you. Even mourning has lost its taste. I wish I was a child again watching the Twin Towers fall with my fish and feeling and thinking nothing. Is that ugly?

At night, I pray for optimism, hope, a third eye that will open and show me the way, and a long, long life. I pray that I will be able to say something more eloquent than “I’m tired,” when they ask me, because someone will ask me. I’m the token of tiny spaces. Someone will ask me. And what will I say this time?

I don’t want to protest. I deleted my Twitter because I don’t want to see the hashtags. I’m off of tumblr. I don’t want to say their names, because a name is not enough. I cringe at the word “animals.” This doesn’t have anything to do with anything except for the fact that someone close to me used that word to describe our people when I thought I was safe. But I don’t have bullets raining down on me at night, or small sticks of dynamite being thrown my way. I think that every black kid is born with this question, and we spend the rest of our lives being haunted by it:

Do you love me?

“Do you love me?”

When I was sixteen, I started dreaming of nuclear bombs. At least once a year since then, I’ve woken up at the wrong time thinking that the world had ended. Day dreams of melting into the people around me, or burning to ash altogether are not uncommon. I think about car crashes too, a lot. I think about what I’d do with my hands if I ever got pulled over. Did you know that Sandra Bland was a sorority sister of mine?

Now I think about being blown up with dynamite, in my car, on a late night drive. When my dad worked the Fourth of July, he came home with the news that he almost died driving through the hood. He knows people who’ve been walked up on and shot. Everyone tries him. He despises cameras like he despises the white boy college graduates who now serve alongside him, because the chief of police likes the look of the new force even if they don’t know how to talk to the people they are meant to protect. Even if they are afraid of them. He mourns all the time. 

But we return to this question. Do you love me?

You love Pokémon GO. I’m sorry. This was supposed to be an intelligent discussion, but all I can talk about are my emotions. I was playing it when a kid yelled out on Facebook that he never would’ve thought the day would come where he could both catch a Charizard and watch a guy who looks like him get shot on the same little device. Ah, technology! My friend mentions a boy who walked into the wrong neighborhood searching for Pikachu and got stabbed. I imagine the boy who wanders into the wrong neighborhood looking for Pikachu and gets shot. I gave up Facebook and Pokémon, but not Snapchat. Snapchat is where I put my protests on display, when I went to protests.

I could sing to you about institutions formed against us and the complexities of being the black daughter of a black cop and still hating most cops and always, always arguing, and protesting, and black power, and how to keep faith, and where is the revolution, and what will our revolution look like, will it be televised? It won’t be televised. Will it be on Twitter? Why’d I get off Twitter? Will I miss the revolution?

Do you love me?

America, I have given you all and now I am nothing, said a white kid whose people were “beaten down and downtrodden,” lost youths of a generation who devoured a generation in your name, amen. Will this tongue make it easier for you to understand? Can we have a conversation now?

Why don’t you love me?  

And America, who loves Mammy and Bon Qui Qui and NeNe Leaks when she is angry but never when she’s alone and never when she’s in love, and Rupaul always, and me never, and my father never, will cock back it’s head and pop it’s gum and ask if we don’t love ourselves, how the hell are we gon’ love somebody else?

But America, I have given you all and now I am nothing. When I was born, love was my cull and when that was cracked open I dripped raw, egg like, onto the earth. Fingers searching in the dark for the thing I had lost as I mistake the void for my blackness and my blackness for the void so that I thought it was the thing which blinded me, choked me, cracked me open so that I spilt. And when my fingers met another’s in that darkness, what do you think happened? Raw flesh rubbing against raw flesh?

I don’t like people touching me even as I crave it. But I can give you this nothingness too, if you want it. I can give you the home that you built for me. You pin our bodies fresh and dead up in your newspapers like good luck charms to ward off the evil. I just want to understand you because I feel like we’d have a lot in common, like maybe I could convince you to like me if you just tried. What are you warding away? What do you have to fear?

Stay tuned to Milk.

Image by Kathryn Chadason.

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