It’s difficult for me to recall life before Mike Brown. Life before #BlackLivesMatter became a reflex. Before the pot boiled over.
I remember Trayvon and the case against George Zimmerman shaking me out of deep slumber; I remember the burning anger that started deep in my core when Zimmerman walked free. I remember all of that but I think I was still dreaming a little, I still didn’t feel quite as invested. I was young and dominos were tipping; I started noticing when black men and women were killed but a short prayer for their families and a quick read of the article, and I went back to sleep.
Then Eric Garner happened right where I was. New York City, my home, became tense and the blue of NYPD became stained with blood as I learned the history I was never taught. I tossed, I turned, I fought against waking up because I didn’t want to find out what being awake would bring me. I was afraid.
And just after that, just when I was squeezing my eyes closed and willing myself to fall back to sleep, Mike Brown was killed. He was so young, like they often are. He was excited to have finished high school. He should’ve been starting college. It felt like ice water to the face and in a way, it was. It was the icy reality of racism, pain, and the deceit that allowed me to be comfortable enough to sleep. I remember how much I cried, how painful it was to accept this truth.
Mike Brown woke me up in time to take in the world for what it is. I’m not sleepy anymore but that doesn’t mean I’m not tired. When I see his name, when I see those hashtags, I mourn for those I’ve never met; I miss them. I wish I didn’t have to learn their names in this way. But I have to. And I will continue to. Because this isn’t over. And today, August 9th, 2015, on the first anniversary of Mike’s death, I say a special prayer of comfort, healing, and protection for his family and friends. A prayer for those on the front lines marching, and those of us doing what we can to educate people. I say a prayer for each and every black man, woman and child. May we be protected as we go through our every day lives.
Remember Mike. Remember Ferguson. Remember that no matter how they try to fight against us that Black Lives Matter.
This is for the kids who die, Black and white, For kids will die certainly. The old and rich will live on awhile, As always, Eating blood and gold, Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi Organizing sharecroppers Kids will die in the streets of Chicago Organizing workers Kids will die in the orange groves of California Telling others to get together Whites and Filipinos, Negroes and Mexicans, All kinds of kids will die Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned Who pen editorials in the papers, And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names White and black, Who make surveys and write books Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die, And the sleazy courts, And the bribe-reaching police, And the blood-loving generals, And the money-loving preachers Will all raise their hands against the kids who die, Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets To frighten the people— For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people— And the old and rich don’t want the people To taste the iron of the kids who die, Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power, To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die— Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you Except in our hearts Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field, Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht But the day will come— You are sure yourselves that it is coming— When the marching feet of the masses Will raise for you a living monument of love, And joy, and laughter, And black hands and white hands clasped as one, And a song that reaches the sky— The song of the life triumphant Through the kids who die.
I’m a kid who don’t dig a muthafuckin pig Cause to me they ain’t nothin but harassers That misuse they badges to whip n*s asses Then one day they slow rolled through the hood With the .38s cocked, 2 deep, up to no good They say that my skin was black so they attacked Threw me on the back and stuck a gat to my fuckin cap One murdered my man like it was okay For the life he ended he got suspended with no pay But if a man woulda took the cop life, he woulda got life And never again see the street lights, and that’s trife Around my way they shot many teens And them cops better stop, or I'ma stop em, by any means The Big L won’t hesitate to cold diss em And if you ask me, muthafuck the whole system There are too many young black brothers doin life bids Cause justice means ‘just us white kids’ So take heed to the rhymes I kick I’m about to flip, cause I’m fed up with that bullshit