On Despair And Hope

You turn on the news and there is another black body on the concrete.

The same feeling of panic churns your insides, and there is no escape. This time, the shooting happened in Miami-- your city is not immune to police brutality. The image of a Black man lying on the concrete floor with both his hands in the air, while his patient sits close to him, makes it clear that there is no way to justify this shooting. There is no gray area that can lead to speculation, and this man's survival makes it impossible for the media to demonize him. You are tired--no, you are more than tired. There is tired, and then there's the type of exhaustion that settles deep into your bones. It's the type of sadness that stings the back of your eyes every time someone in your family says that "we need to wait for more police reports, we need to wait for more evidence." Damn, that anti-Blackness is strong and it's sitting right across the dinner table. You have the luxury of stepping away, remaining quiet, but you know that your Black brothers and sisters don't have the ability to rip off their skin and walk away. So, you open your mouth and a battle erupts. Silence means compliance, and compliance means being a participant in the slaughter of a community.

You know that right now it is crucial to be an ally to the Black community. To be an advocate, confront the anti-Blackness in your own household, in your classrooms, in your workplaces. So you tell Mami that you won't ask for forgiveness when Abuelita says that All Lives Matter, and you say that it's offensive, that the Black community is being targeted and that a common stop for a white man is a matter of life and death for a Black man. You tell Mami how there is no way for a Black man to be safe during a stop. Hands up and they will still shoot.

Black liberation inherently means Brown liberation, (but how do we move forward without using the Black struggle as a mule? How do you not erase Black people from this very piece? How do we pull our own weight? You're up on Google until your eyes dry out. Look for the answers deep within, have difficult conversations, check your anti-Blackness, be unafraid to look in the mirror and see biases, fix them, look up resource guides online. Google is free.)

You come home to your lover and healer, a man who doesn't want either of those titles. You tell him about what's on the news, the disappointment that crawls down your spine, the feelings of uselessness, how you wish Latinxs were less racist--goddamn it, we don't have to act like it's a part of our DNA, even if it is a part of our colonized history. That's not an excuse and you wish you could wipe out the phrase "mejorar la raza."

"It's AmeriKKKa," he says. You cry, because you know that he's what cops love to stop. The gold in his mouth, his curls, and his little red car--you know that he's going to get stopped. You just hope he doesn't die, that his smart mouth will always be enough to get him out of trouble. You love that mouth. Too bad he doesn't love you.

Your brother is tall, big, and always has a scowl on his face. You know that others will see him as dangerous; his skin is darker than yours, long hair, and angry eyes. They don't see the little boy who had trouble stringing his words together, who only knew how to speak half sentences until he was in elementary school. Your brother does not understand why you fear for his life. He does not understand why you tell him that he needs to stop scowling, ("It's my face, what do you want me to do about it?" He throws back at you.) I'm American, he says. You want to tell him that this sentiment is not a shield. You want to tell him about Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the others whose names are not on national platforms. They were American too. You need him to know that Black Lives Matter.

You want to tell him about Vinson Ramos, Anthony Nuñez, and that you're scared he might be next. You don't want him to be a hashtag. You want to tell him to not grow angry and resentful towards Black lives, whom our community is perceiving as getting more attention than Brown bodies. You don't want him to be ignorant of the struggles he will face one he leaves the comfort of Mami's home. (How can we write about our own grief without participating in the erasure of Black voices and Black pain?)

He downloads Pokémon Go, sees there is something nearby, and leaves the safety of your home. It's already dark out. Screw putting on shoes, you run after him barefoot. You've seen too many Brown and Black bodies on concrete. You refuse to let any of your brothers become next, so you spend the next half hour watching him catch the fantasies of your 90's childhood.

The world is burning, but you wish for change. The protests give you hope. The marches give you hope. The people being unafraid gives you hope. All that's left is hope.

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