Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Can Breathe

I can breathe.

Arguing with friends in person and on Facebook about Trayvon Martin. He was a thug. He must have done something wrong, look at that bruise on Zimmerman's head.

I can breathe.

Eric Garner was asthmatic and overweight. He died as a result of his own poor life choices, not the cop's chokehold.  as the reason for his death.

I can.

Beavercreek, Ohio. Wal-mart.  Shots inside a store and a black man falls to his death screaming the question of why his life was ending. Why he was taking his last breaths?


Michael Brown was a thug robbing a store. He was not, but it sounds good. Official. He was a monster, a demon. The cop was the victim, the attacker is the unarmed dead body. The attacker was the thug, the threat, the evil that can not speak for itself, so we will take up his voice on his behalf.

Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice immediately shot and killed by police.  This is tricky. He's twelve. But his father's troubles with the law shine a light on his death.


And now it's just a growing silence. The 'thug argument' has been used so much for so many cases that it seems ridiculous and impossible and cheap and total embarrassment. Rather than apologize, recant, or admit that maybe we've been smearing Black men with the 'thug' label ever since the day after the Emancipation Proclamation and everyone has just bought it, there is just this silence. Chokingly bitter and suffocating blankness, the absence of words and comprehension. The horrific realization that in the wake of all those dead bodies, the ghosts cry out.

Maybe some of these silent awakeners will sit on a grand jury one day and when the lazy DA throws around 'thug' label on a dead black body something will register inside them as painful, choking flammable and toxic. They will be impelled against their softer judgment.  Their mouths will open to clean out of the kerosene from their insides in order to avoid their own self-immolation. And instead of their own words falling out, the cries of all those ghosts will possess them. Their questions will register in the consciousness of a nation.

I can breathe. 

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