At first, I was resistant to watching the video. I have seen so many videos of people who looked like me being gunned down or attacked that I already knew the pain that it would stir up. I also knew the disappointment that would follow when there was no truth revealed and no resolution.
And, I wanted to avoid the anger and grief that I would feel in the days to follow. But, I had to watch it. I felt it was my duty to watch for the person who lost his life.
I watched the death of George Floyd. I felt his distress as he pleaded for the officers to allow him to stand up. I felt the anguish of the citizens who were watching and begging for the cops to release him and save his life. I reeled at the callousness of the officer as he seemed to press down even more firmly into George Lloyd’s body. I felt their disbelief and indifference to his pain even as his body went limp. And, my heart broke as a grown man called out to his Mother in his last moments.
And, then I watched his life end. And, I cried as if it was someone I knew.
I have loved Black men since they were boys. I have brothers, family members, and friends who I have known since they were children. We grew up, laughed, and played together. I have been protected by them, taught by them, and comforted by them when I was struggling. I know how gentle and loving they are despite the hardness the world simultaneously asks of them and projects onto them.
I have watched them grow up to be productive givers to society, passionate about giving back to their community, husbands, fathers, and educated men of God. They have done everything the American Dream requires of all of us.
Yet, I fear for them every time they walk out a door whether they will come home. And, most have not gotten into a profession where the threat of death is a possibility. Many work regular 9 to 5 jobs, but they still can find themselves on the opposite end of a gun. And, so I pray and I hold my breath until I can lay my eyes and hands on them.
I can’t breathe.
Someone can look at the men I love and view them as someone or something they are not, then take that as a reason to cause them bodily injury. An officer can pull them over and escalate a situation as they did with George Floyd until they find a reason to kill them. And, there is no recourse, no protection or no way to prove that it was undeserved.
I feel helpless.
Do you know what it is like to feel helpless almost every day of your life? To walk the streets, but never really know that you are or can be safe. Do you know what it feels like to do everything according to the rules and still end up a statistic? Do you know what it’s like to explain to a child that they lost someone for reasons you can’t explain? Do you know what’s it feels like to see hatred from a stranger? This is the anger and pain you see in the protests.
Black Lives Matter.
It’s not a Mantra. It’s a statement about what Black people have always been in America. Asking to be viewed through the eyes of humanity. And, all Black people want is to know that if there is an interaction with the police that they will be given fair treatment and be protected even if they are believed to be perpetrators. They want the anger and hatred gone from services designed to protect and serve all citizens.
They want George Floyd and countless others not to have died in vain. Fix our country. And, let Black people feel like they can send their sons out knowing they will return home.
Don’t let another Mama have to hear that call for a son she didn’t send off to war.
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