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The Black Woman's Lament

market of clay pots

I have a black son. I have a black husband. My daddy is black. My brother, cousins, uncles, my nephews. Every man that I love with everything inside of me is black. And when I see them, I see them. I cannot get the image out of my head Of the police officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck. I cannot help but imagine my cousin’s face Slammed on the ground, begging for mercy. I cannot watch the video. I have yet to watch the Ahmaud Arbury video. I have tried, but I can’t. The segment I saw of When They See Us sent me into a mild panic attack, So I had to turn it off. I knew that if I watched one second more, The truth of it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Why? Because when I see them, I see them. My son loves peanut butter and jelly. At night, I sleep on my husband’s chest. My cousins make me cry laughing -- like literal tears. And my Daddy is the best guit--tar player I’ve ever heard. And when I see them, I see them. And I can’t breathe. I. can. not. breathe. Trembling, anxious, petrified for mine. I imagine hearing of my baby or one of my men being killed. I am screaming. I am falling on the ground, screaming, uncontrollable. I am screaming. Screaming. Inconsolable. And I cannot stop. My heart is bleeding, my soul is pleading, God please have mercy. I can’t breathe. I’m not just afraid of them being killed I’m afraid of the day my son realizes that they are afraid of him. I’m afraid of the punch of rejection my Daddy feels When someone locks their doors or clutches their purse when they see him walk by. I’m afraid because if my nephew’s white girlfriend says he did it Then he did it. Whether he did it or not. This is the America I live in. Another murder. Another cop kills another black soul. And no justice. And then another murder. And another. Another video gone viral. My eyes see Tray’von but my heart sees Roman. My eyes see Breonna but my heart sees Ainsley. My eyes see Ahmaud but my heart sees Andreas, Heading out for a run in our predominately white neighborhood, And I can’t breathe. Why? Because when I see them, I see them. And now I gotta see … them. Their comments. Their comments, Their rebuttals, Their privilege-driven, KNOW-NOTHING-BUT-KNOW-IT-ALL Dismissive comments. I feel like they’re talking about my son. I feel like they’re talking about my husband, my dad, all the men I love. And every tweet, every post, like fingers curling around my neck; squeezing. And when I hear them, I can’t breathe. When they’re more vocal about the protests than the killings. Outraged for the burned police station, But deafeningly silent about churches burned by the KKK. So offended by an athlete taking a knee, But not the knee that killed a black man. When they speak up and tell me all white cops are not bad, BUT WON’T SPEAK UP And tell them all black men are not threats. Lord, I can’t breathe. I am an anguished black woman. They call me an angry black woman. I tell them how I feel. They tell me how I should feel. I just want justice. They just want to justify Murder. Them comments … Dismissive and defensive Silence and indifference. Right vs. Left instead of right vs. wrong. Them comments … “But what about black on black—…” Stop. “But police have it har—...” Stop. “But all lives matt—...” Stop. “But why don’t they just put their hands u—…” Stop. “But you didn’t even know hi—…” STOP. Please just stop. I see them. I see them. I see them. And I can’t breathe.



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