The Rapidian

You'd stop killing us, if you thought we deserved to live

As I return to West Michigan with the looming question of “will I stay or will I go,” I am reminded that what makes a community home is knowing that your life is valuable to those around you.

If fear were a form of social control – the world is doing an effective job of making examples of black and brown bodies. When bombs terrorized mosques, Muslim communities and Middle Eastern spaces half way across the world the silence of the international community was deafening. Stateside, we add two more names to the ongoing list of state sanctioned killings of black bodies: Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and Philando Castile (Falcon Heights, Minnesota). And yes, it is state sanctioned when your tax dollars make it possible and the actions of the perpetrator are never met with justice on behalf of the victim.


I was made aware of the latest round of officer-involved murders while wrapping up a nearly month-long stay in Spain. Sadly, I was not surprised. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of a story my partner told me. He was telling me about a man who was without nerve endings. The man once dislocated a bone and had no idea. He could severely cut himself and have no idea he was bleeding out. Sadly, this is what it feels like at this point to hear about lives lost in seemingly endless acts of indifference perpetrated by trigger-happy officers.


I continuously see the sentiment being shared via social media that says “stop killing us,” but I can’t help but wonder what’s the point in saying that? Just as I’m slightly puzzled by folks with “grass is greener” mentalities about international spaces where brutality and racism is hidden or painted as a more indifferent form of xenophobia (as nationalism and fascism are on the rise) – I fail to find a point to telling people to stop killing us.


Why? Simple – the people killing us don’t care.


I also wonder if a better exercise would be to underline the “who” in killing us. Who is killing us you may ask? There are the easy answers: reckless individuals empowered to be the judge, jury and executioner, the nature of policing and supremacy. However, there are the lesser known accomplices to what seems to be an ongoing problem. Who is responsible for the only Purge movie to play out without consequence? Politicians who create laws that make it next to impossible to hold law enforcement officials accountable for their actions. People who profit off of respectability politics that push harmful narratives, essentially framing acceptable victims (think Steve Harvey types and then insert people you cross paths with daily who push narratives like “dress for success,” “clean up your hair,” etc.). Voters who reelect Mayors that stand silent in rhetoric and action when citizens are targeted and/or murdered on their watch. People whose activism ends when the hashtag stops trending.


As I return to West Michigan with the looming question of “will I stay or will I go,” I am reminded that what makes a community home is knowing that your life is valuable to those around you. In returning with unrelaxed hair, even less of a willingness to sit in silence so I can see my day in court (as once advised by a father sending his headstrong daughter off to college) and a numbness to the inevitable bullet – am I willing to call a community home that I am uncertain will do anything more than watch me walk and bleed. I will walk because at this point the bullet is nothing more than a tool I now recognize was created to destroy my body.


Then again, life has continuously taught me that home is wherever love is more prevalent than hate. Which means no place may ever suffice. Not Spain. Not America. Not a single space on this earth. So no, I won’t say “stop killing us.” Instead I’ll say, let me live my life. There should never be conditions attached to that sentiment if in the end it is not negatively affecting the livelihood of others. 

But perhaps this is my complication with home: home is as false an idea to me as safety.

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