“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you can love our music, our food, our hairstyles, our bodies, our culture(s), our swag, if you love when we entertain you on a stage, on a basketball court or on a football field, surely you can speak up where we are hurting. Or can you?
If you can tell Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Eli Harold, Antoine Bethea, Malcolm Jenkins, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Arian Foster, Brandon Marshall, Marcus Peters, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins, Kenny Stills, Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard, Jeremy Lane, Robert Quinn and Kenny Britt that they should stick to football, shut up and stop disrespecting the flag, by kneeling and/or by raising their fists, surely you can also speak up about the death of 13-year-old Tyre King in Cleveland. Or can you?
If you can be outraged by pig socks surely you can be outraged by the name of that football team in Washington and that baseball team in Cleveland. Or can you?
If you can be around us, loud and proud, when we are laughing and partying, surely you can be around us, just as loud and proud, when we are protesting, mourning, hurting, and crying. Or can you?
If you can be on social media all day long talking about what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or the latest gossips, surely you can also talk about lives being lost. Or can you?
If you can quote those popular lines from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, surely you can also quote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Or can you?
If you can call us “homie”, “bro”, “sista” or “fam”, surely you can join us on the front lines as police in riot gear use tear gas on us. Or can you?
Silence is not just violence. It is also deafening and speaks volumes. By staying silent, you are telling us over and over that although some of us are good enough to be considered music icons, sports legends, good enough to be elected President of the United States, twice, good enough to be emulated, we, as a whole, are not worthy of basic human rights, respect, dignity and support on a daily basis. We got it. Loud and clear.
#RanishaMcBride #SandraBland #TrayvonMartin #AdamaTraore #AndrewLoku #AbdirahmanAbdi #MikeBrown #EricGarner #AmadouDiallo #OscarGrant #TamirRice #TyreKing #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #FreddieGray #ReyalJensenjardineDouglas #EricOsawe #GregoryGunn #ArielDenkins #WalterScott #LaquanMcDonald #SamuelDuBose #AkaiGurley #BrendonGlenn #JermaineCarby #MichaelEligon #TanishaAnderson #YvetteSmith #KorrynGaines #JanetWilson #JessicaWilliams #IndiaBeaty #DereshaArmstrong #LarondaSweatt #NatashaMcKenna #JanishaFonville #ErnestSatterwhite #DontreHamilton #JohnCrawfordIII #LevarJones #KeithLamontScott #AmadouKone #LamineDieng Just to name a few. They were real people, not statistics. #SayTheirNames #BlackLivesMatter
I wrote this piece on September 21, 2016. The day after Keith Lamont Scott was killed by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is the backstory:
A couple of months prior to that, on July 7th, 2016, to be exact, I had woken up in cold sweat, angry, upset, in tears. On back to back days, I, like millions of others, had watched Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 5th, and Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6th, be killed on camera by members of law enforcement. Why did it shake me so much and so deep this time? After all, I knew they were not the first black bodies we had lost to police violence, and I knew they would not be the last, but something about these two instances hit me even harder than usual.
Life does not stop because you are upset, as all of you know, and so I had to keep going, all the while trying to figure out what to do with my heavy heart. In the following days and weeks, I watched, read about, tweeted about, these two men and the black bodies who continued to fall, which included Korryn Gaines, Sylville K. Smith, Terrence Sterling, Tyre King, Abdirahman Abdi and Terence Crutcher.
And then, came September 20th, and the death of Keith Lamont Scott. For whatever reason, it seems to have been the last straw and I started writing about how I felt in that particular moment, and slowly but surely, I could feel the pressure in my chest decreasing. It felt like I was really breathing for the first time in months.
Self-care. That’s what it was about. I had not protected myself as well as I normally did.
Self-care means different things to different people, and in that instance, as it had been the case throughout my life, for as long as I remember, self-care, for me, involved putting pen to paper. It did not solve the actual problem, it did not stop more black bodies from falling, it did not change the world but it allowed me to find the strength to keep fighting and fight even harder for this cause and so many others, while making sure that I was ok because if I didn’t, who would? Fighting the good fight, just like taking care of someone else, be it a child, a partner, a friend or a parent, takes a lot out of each of us and we tend to take on these tasks filled with the best of intentions but running on an empty tank. Self-care is the action of refilling that tank as often as needed.
How do you refill yours?