The other day, my friend told me “The only emotion you give off is when you’re ready to fight. Other than that, no one knows what you’re feeling or thinking.”
She is right. I typically do not lead with my emotions. It takes me a while to think and it takes me even longer to be convinced that it’s worth sharing. She reminded me that softness is worthy too. I need to practice being softer.
This is what my soft looks like. The death of Black men, especially when it’s murder, especially when it’s filmed hits me differently than the deaths of Black women and children - not less than, not more than, just differently.
I was raised by a Black man who was a big dreamer. He lost his parents at a young age, had minimal education, and suffered through emotional and worldly limitations. My entire childhood was spent at the funeral of his dreams, one after another. This front seat view to what can only be described as intentional violence has hardened me. It has angered me. It has infuriated me. It has been a wound that can’t be healed because it is always being reopened.
The only entity I’ve seen murdered more than Black people are our dreams.
Nipsey’s murder has me bleeding through my pores and it reminds me of my dad. It reminds me of Darius. It reminds me of Junie. It reminds me of my neighbor’s dead body being rolled out of the building as his mother’s wails floated across Fordham road.
We’re being slaughtered at a magnitude that could turn all the water on this planet red with our blood. Make no mistake, this is calculated and intentionally induced trauma. This is a loud reminder that we should stay in the small spaces “they” assigned us to. This is telling our children that if you want to love Black people, protect Black people, empower Black people - that there will be a target on your back.
They’re asking if we’re willing to die for this. And I know so many of you personally who are. I can only say that if they take you or they take me, keep going. Keeping loving your people. Keep building in our communities. Keep elevating. The wings of our lost soldiers will carry us. Let our freedom be the hill you’re willing to die on. We’re gonna grieve. But like Sandra Bland’s mother said, “Once we put this baby in the ground, it’s war.”