I just sat there. I watched passerbys happily and nonchalantly smiling and chatting on their way to their various destinations. I sat there. Cars pulled slowly and swiftly in and out of the parking lot as people ran their errands. I sat there. I could hear the sound of the twins' breathing and Cameron's light snoring from a stuffy nose. I sat there. I sat in my car in the Hobby Lobby parking lot and I thought and thought and thought. I couldn't stop thinking. What to do? What to do? I have to do something. We have to do something. My head started spinning, my chest got heavy and I felt physically sick to my stomach. "I can't breathe."
I'm tired of these stories. I am sick and tired of them. I want a new book. I need there to be a better ending because there has to be a better ending then the ones I keep reading. Isn't there? Unarmed black man killed. Unarmed black man killed. Unarmed black man killed. Unarmed black man killed. Unarmed black man killed. I don't want to read this book any more, but it keeps appearing. "What are you following me for?"
The pages are so worn and brittle that I have to handle it carefully as not to further damage the intricate web of life that once emerged from it. All those lives. All those pages. The delicate ink has been washed away by a steady stream of tears. I used to love to read, but I don't want to cry anymore. "I love you, too."
The cover - basic, plain, and mysterious shows its wear with bent corners and a little rough around the edges. One that if not opened and given the chance to be understood gets overlooked and put back on the shelf to be deemed unworthy.
The spine is badly damaged but not completely broken. It's trying to fight. It's trying to hold on. And so stands the waves of the people steadily bent and twisted and nearly broken. Keep holding on. Keep standing. Keep fighting. "Mom, I'm going to college."
And how do I pass the book down to seedlings to obtain a knowledge that I never really wanted them to learn? Do I read the least brutal chapter without giving them the tragic ending? Do I even pass this battered, unbelievable, and undeniably unfair knowledge down? We say knowledge is power until it's powerless. "It's not real."
Oh, but this book is so real. A long way from the prince charmings and falsified fairy tales of police reports. The imagery so real, it's blinding. The poignant messages scrawled upon page upon page telling me over and over again. The underlying tone that is not spoken of, but implied. The writing's right there, and it's making the loudest sound of all.
Speak up. Silence. Maybe you should read this book. Silence. But look right here. Silence. This story cannot continue to be met by silence from the comfortable looking to remain comfortable. Stop judging it by the cover and take a moment to open it. Silence is a door slam. Silence is a slap in the face. Silence is a cop out. Silence won't change things. Silence won't make laws. Silence won't keep us alive. "Why did you shoot me?"
Well, my God America. Is this freedom? This is the land of the free, is it not? The land that supposedly embraces and embodies diversity. The land of the people that supposedly stands up and draws together under God to overcome tragedies, adversities, and injustices. Or is that just us? The ones of us who are fighting daily not to be the next statistic, the next news story, the next hash tag, the chapter in this never ending story? "Don't make any sudden moves. Don't wear a hoodie. Don't ask for help. Ask for permission. Comply with the officer. Yes mam. No mam. Yes sir. No sir. Move slowly. Don't run. Don't be afraid. Be afraid. Don't resist. Just do it. Answer the questions. Put your hands up. Don't put your hands in your pockets. Just do as you're told. Don't reach for anything. Don't get your license. Do you get your license? Don't talk back. Don't ask questions." But still, "that looks like a bad dude."
It doesn't stop. I'm out of breath. "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. Why aren't you listening?