On July 4th the country celebrated in hues of red white and blue while line dancing and barbecuing to the tune of “independence”. On July 5th, Alton Sterling was murdered in true American tradition. On July 6th, Philando Castile was murdered in a car with his girlfriend and her 4-year old child.
I cannot keep hash tagging the names of dead black people. I cannot keep walking around with a mouthful of dead kinfolk to spew at people in classroom debates or Facebook arguments. I know we must remind them our place is at the forefront of revolutions. I know that we need to set it off, and shut it down, and take it apart and order pieces that fit this time. I know that.
But I also know that we need to heal. I know that watching a black man lynched on loop for days on end can do something to a person’s soul. The feeling of helplessness that came over me as I watched a black man pinned down and executed like a farm animal has become an everyday experience.
I woke up today and looked at my baby brother because he’s here and he’s whole and I can. I sat on my parents’ bed and spoke to my Baba, all soft eyes and skin a shade of chocolate that law enforcement doesn’t like the taste of because he’s here and he’s whole and I can. I laughed with my Umi, resilient and unapologetic as she is, because she’s here and she’s whole and I can.
My baby brother isn’t a baby anymore, though. He’s 18 now. Old enough and tall enough and brown enough to be called a man. His name is Muhammad Ali. And he has enough of the unapologetically black legend in him that I find myself holding my breath when he leaves the house. I am torn between loving how much my Umi doesn’t take anyone’s crap and worrying about what that means for a black Muslim hijabi in the land of the free.
So I also woke up today and asked my best friend, probably for the fiftieth time, if we could move out of the country so I never have to give birth to children in a nation that will do nothing but build slaughter houses for them. I woke up and made dua that Allah swt would protect us from the boys in blue, and the boys in suits, and all those who would rather see us dead than free. I made dua that one day my ummah would pray for my kinfolk in Philly the way they do for our brothers and sisters and Falasteen.
I made my dua, and I looked at my family, and I wondered when any of us would be whole. I continue to wonder if any of us can ever be whole. I think about all the black people who are killed for being black people, in this place that makes hashtags out of kinfolk, in this place that celebrates liberation of white men, in this place that thinks all things brown belong under a boot, and I find no joy. No cause for jubilation. No evidence of freedom.