I am so tired. Exhausted. Like marathon running after giving birth to a rhinoceros while taking final exams tired. My stomach hurts to the point that I can feel my organs literally rumbling in revolt. My eyes keep welling up with a moisture that feels like tears but tastes like disgust. My tongue is dry from words that beg to leap from my mouth but are being held back by a throat choked in pain. Focus is lost, weariness sets in and I am done for the day. Any task that requires extreme thinking or concentration is a done deal and I can only muster the energy to do the rote monotonous things that keep me from drowning in a sea of work. And like this, I’m supposed to go home; open the door, smile, kiss my son, cook dinner, help with homework, tuck him into bed and pretend everything is ok.
I don’t know this man. I try and remind myself of this every couple of minutes. I don’t know this man and yet I sit at my desk and cry for an hour after all the kids have gone. I’ve made the dumb mistake of clicking “play” on a video again. I throw up internally every time I see one of these videos but I click anyway and I gotta stop. I gotta start taking care of myself because I am withering inside. I don’t know this man but I watch him die as though I am watching the death of my best friend. I don’t know this man but I look at the officers on my block now as though they have horns. I don’t know this man but I am terrified because one day this man could be my son.
Miles loves Hairspray. No, he does not have a bleached blond 10 inch Mohawk he is trying to keep from leaning to the side; I’m talking about the actual movie Hairspray. He prefers the 2007 version to the 1988 Ricki Lake original but he’s young and silly so I can’t get too mad at him. He loves the dancing, the singing and the story; kids living outside the box and making a difference. I watch him watch it and chuckle every time because I’m sure he wouldn’t want his buddies to know he comes home and begs to watch a cheesy musical. I look in his eyes and I see promise and possibility and perfection. I look into his eyes and can’t imagine anyone not loving him. I can’t imagine anyone not seeing an amazing little boy. I can’t imagine anyone seeing him as a threat. And then I remember that his past birthday just made him only a year older than Tamir. In a few years he’ll be as old and independent as Trayvon. And soon he’ll be headed off to college like Michael and I just can’t imagine my world torn apart because instead of a graduation party we have to throw a repast.
I feel like I have acute PTSD; the symptoms of institutionalized trauma keep me awake some nights and it is all I can do sometimes to keep myself from running into the woods and becoming a homeless hermit.Studies say the torture of slavery still lives in my very DNA so what affect does seeing our people gunned down like dogs have on the psyche of my brain and the future of my babies? Brought here against my will, raped in language, culture and body with the connection to my past slaughtered and the spirit for my future hanging by thin thread and I’m supposed to keep quiet, grin and bear it. Blindly follow and never question. I can’t stand up, sit down, kneel, shout, sing or whisper without seeming unpatriotic but this country can send bullets raining down my spine and then laugh while telling me to go back to where I came from while leaving me no options to go there.
It feels like the world is getting smaller and smaller and trying to squeeze me out of it. I sit and try to figure out how to get through the rest of my day without breaking down and almost keel over with the effort. I chew my lips, rub my temples and roll my neck before packing my things to go home because I can’t let it control me. I can’t let it take hold of me and roll me out of myself into the same monster that stalks me from every newscast I watch. I can’t let the anger win. Because my tears are not just liquid evidence of sorrow but also searing proof of rage. Because I can’t keep hiding the fact that I am livid. Because America is forcing me to send my child to his father because I can teach him how to be a good person but I can’t teach him how to be a black man and not end up dead. Because no one looks at their newborn and thinks, “I can’t wait to teach him how to ride a bike and make chocolate chip cookies and oh boy! Let’s have our first talk about how to keep the cops from pumping you full of bullets!”
I’m tired of teaching my offspring to be strong. I’m tired of praying for my child to survive. I’m tired of begging my child to stifle himself so he can stay alive. I wanna be able just to talk to him. Let him have a break. Escape in fantasy worlds of superheroes and wizards with him. Let him be him. Let him be free. Love him. I’m tired of having to deal with perceptions of he and I that we had no part in creating. I’m tired of asking questions I never get the answers to. Why am I not allowed to exist? Why does my hair, my nose, my lips, my butt, my skin, my presence bother so much that I become a threat? Why do I have to teach my child to live like a noose hangs above his head? Why can’t this country love itself enough to not be afraid of us? And more important than any other question teetering on the edge of my lips: Why do I keep having to write and cry about the same fucking thing?