I should have known better than to watch that video. I regretted it the second I clicked on it. What good could come of watching another black man become hashtag? Stephon Clark’s murder has kept me awake at night. I have dreamt of him,of his children and loved ones, woken up gasping in the middle of the night with rage in my heart and tears on my face.
And yet, I have never met him. I wouldn’t even know his name if he hadn’t become another tragedy. God, I wish I never knew his name. Carrying it in my mouth feels uncomfortable, as if I don’t deserve to utter it with such ease. Have you ever grieved a person you did not know? Whose life was so far removed from yours? His body, his life and legacy do not belong to me anymore than they did to the officers that snatched the life from his body.
And yet, he seems to belong to all of us now. The boy treated like nobody’s child will be grieved by the people of a nation that refuses to learn its lesson. When we are handed picket signs instead of flower arrangements at the funeral, can we even call it grief? If a camera man isn’t around to exploit a brown girls cries, did she even make a sound?
Perhaps this is the price the survivors must pay. Every day we are punished for having the nerve to feel deserving a piece of the pie we baked. And so the nation built on bones and blood thirsty soil claims another soul as a reminder. A warning. Perhaps I mourn my hope for a griefless life more than the man.
As I write this, I sit in a Starbucks full of people that don’t look to be grieving. I look at the only other black girl in the room and wonder if she’s holding this grief. I pray she is not. When there is so much to grieve, however, I wonder how it’s possible not to be.
This grief is exhausting. It will kill me one day, of that I am sure. But who am I to not feel this pain? No one. This whole wide world reminds me of that every day. I hold my breath when my little brother doesn’t answer his phone in the first few rings. I yell at strangers when they call my nephews big for their age. Am I still grieving if I can’t move through all the stages? If all I feel is anger? The Universe seems to be mocking me with every murder video turned non conviction. We can take them, it’s saying, and we will.
If rage let’s two officers and twenty bullets turn somebody’s everything into a hashtag, can mine change my reality? Can it save me from a fate of giving birth to coffins instead of children? I don’t know. I do know that I am ready for the violence against us to be called what it is.
No white officer murdering an unarmed black man fears for their lives. No white officer murdering an unarmed black woman fears for their lives. This is gun violence. This is a hate crime. This is worse than a nightmare. There is no law or order in headlines discussing a white man’s fear of a black boy he used for target practice. There is no justice in that.
I wonder if America is truly worth saving. I wonder this often, if I am so blinded by dreams of retribution that I can’t see the day of reckoning simply isn’t coming. Does this country deserve the compassion of protest? Perhaps this damned land deserves to be remembered for what it is. Thirsty for blood and incapable of serving justice.
Today, I have decided it is not worth it. I will not continue to work to make this horrible place liveable. With its violence touching the whole wide world, I’m not sure where I will go. With an ancestry of resistance in the most impossible situations, I’m sure this decision is the most selfish one I have ever made. Grief has the power to make people do curious things. Mine has granted me a divorce from my obligation to this country.