I gain strength from the words of the song: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest, We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes…” But then I remember the words of Native brother John Trudell, that there is a lie in the middle of that word, believe: beLIEve
We know not to believe in the criminal justice system. But we harbored a little bit of hope. Hope gets us every time. Fools us. Lures us. Entices and tempts us. But it’s just a lie. White supremacist AmeriKKKa trumps justice. (Remember back in the day when we used that? AmeriKKKa. The day is back.)
White supremacist AmeriKKKa does not value the lives of young Black men. Not Trayvon Martin. Not Oscar Grant. Not Emmett Till. Not all the others shot dead, or shooting up to deaden the pain, locked up, or locked out of opportunities, profiled, tasered, stopped and frisked, seen as good for nothing, up to no good, harassed, followed, disrespected, devalued, looked at as lesser than, driving while Black, walking while Black, buying iced tea and skittles while Black. This is our nation on racism. This is our country on alert.
Angry, heartbroken for another family who has lost a son. Angry, heartbroken for the Black community that has lost so many sons. Angry, heartbroken for us as a nation. We are losing the future.
What do I tell my niece as she clutches her son to her breast? Never let him walk to the corner store alone. Be careful of how you act around police. Be careful of how you act around civilians. Be careful. Be careful. Be civil. Be careful. Why are we the ones who always have to be civil? Careful?
What do I tell my daughter who,upon hearing the verdict, bursts into tears in the presence of rich white men where she is working? The very men who, driven by unbridled greed, have bought the government and have brought our planet to the edge of destruction.
What do I tell my sister who says it just feels like there is no hope. When she is probably right.
Tonight we are in mourning. If we had a flag, it would be at half staff.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project
Felicia Gustin has been with War Times since the beginning. She currently works at SpeakOut, a national organization working primarily with colleges, universities, and high schools and dedicated to the advancement of education, racial and social justice, leadership development and activism. She is a long-time activist in international solidarity, peace, racial justice and labor movements. She was a journalist for 10 years in Cuba and is currently working on several projects - an historical memoir and a poetry collection, among others.
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