Every time I try to write something about this week, this goddamn week, there's something else going on. But ain't nothing else going on—just the same shit, the same war, people over here, people over there. By the time you read this, who knows?
I hope you're safe, I hope your loved ones are safe, I hope you and they stay that way. Not that it feels like safety really exists. Not for a Muslim person walking to pray, not for a queer or trans one trying to kick it, not for a black one trying to do anything, not for a woman trying to live! No safety for your heart, your empathy, your childhood. No chance for your good mood or your resolve to not watch the latest moving pictures of no longer moving people—if you are trying to be on social media long enough.
It was Big Boi from Outkast on Instagram who showed me the video of Alton Sterling, shot at point-blank range by the Baton Rouge police officer who was kneeling on his chest. The footage cuts away, shaky, as shots go off, and then swerves back to Sterling on his back, perforated, arms twitching and moving as if to ward off flies.
He was selling CDs in front of a store, no doubt self-made rap music, just like a thousand cats do in Seattle, whether they're in front of a 7-Eleven in High Point or on a hoverboard outside of Pacific Place. He was my age, my size. Allegedly, a homeless man had been hitting him up for money, and Sterling, showing him a gun, told him to leave him alone. That man took out his cell phone and called the police.
This is how this interaction between two people, systematically dispossessed, in a city where a third of the population lives in poverty, ended up.
By the time you read this, someone will have showed me the Facebook Live video of Philando Castile, the Minnesota man killed while sitting in his car. According to his girlfriend's account, Castile, who told the officer that he had his licensed firearm in the glove compartment, was shot in the arm and chest four times (again, point-blank) while reaching for his wallet, presumably to show the cop his ID. ("I AM REACHING INTO MY POCKET FOR MY LICENSE." —Richard Pryor, 1974.) One could probably assume then that the officer approached the vehicle, pulled over for a busted taillight, with his gun out and his finger on the trigger. Wonder why?
His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, narrated the whole scene via live streaming video while her daughter—4 years old, not too long after they say childhood memory begins to form—watched from the backseat. Castile—who managed an elementary school's cafeteria, an upstanding dude who'd been a straight-A student and had no priors—bled out and died.
I imagine there's a lot of America, the other America, the Real America, that will see his long braids and think thug, and mean nigger—though maybe they'll just cut out the middleman—and not for a second doubt that it was his fault. "Honey, he had a gun," some NRA member will patiently explain to somebody, somewhere.
And nothing will change, except maybe there will be more people in the streets. And there will definitely be more police in those streets, too, hands on their guns, ready to serve them, if not exactly protect them. And apparently, occasionally there will be somebody else walking around with a bigger one.
Last Thursday, a sniper shot 12 Dallas cops, killing 5 of them. The police put out a picture of a suspect, or just a brother legally carrying a gun, in fact—Twitter users hopped out with receipts a-plenty and kilt that noise. Hmm. White supremacists are online licking their chops for a race war, perhaps not realizing that they never had a chance IRL. People living together, doing what people do—and maybe even under the miscegenated spell of that wild jungle music—been seeing to that.
The children, the future. Which is fine and dandy—but that justice, we literally needed that yesterday. And it's only gonna be asked for, not snatched, for as long as the lights and the water are on. Race, race to the end. Till then.