Everytime I see in the news of a Black person unjustly killed, my instant reactions are heartbreak and fear.
I think about my cousins in the South. Cousins who work in hospitals, work as security, work in IT. What could turn them into a statistic, a hashtag, a viral video.
I think about my uncles and stepdad who work at libraries, in prisons, and in social media.
I think about my days of walking my dog or going for a run in a majority white California neighborhood.
When might I veer off the track where I’m unknown to someone?
When might my mere presence strike fear in that person enough to where they feel obligated to take my life? The fear doesn’t stop at my death, but in the justice of my murder.
Will my killers go to jail, go to trial, or even be handcuffed? Will racists rally around them with GoFundMe’s for their bail money or Facebook groups claiming their rights and innocence?
Will they say I shouldn’t have fought back, I should have complied, or that I fit a description? What about my legacy, my reputation, my past? Will they find pictures of me in durags or bandanas? Videos of my raunchy songs or jokes? Will my name be subjected to the scrutiny of rumors, bad breakups, or shoplifting in high school? Every misguided tweet, questionable decision, every time I rubbed someone the wrong way brought out to justify my death.
What about the Candace Owens of the world who will say that there isn’t an issue because they are able to walk around freely without fear? They’ll say it shouldn’t have anything to do with race. That it shouldn’t be political. That it is a tragedy, but one of errors. That white people get killed too or poorly cropped images of the Black people that have killed white people under similar circumstances. They’ll prep their buzz phrases like “Black on Black crime”, directing ire to Chicago, forgiving the fact that those killers go to jail immediately, and not two months after the fact.
Will my mother be constantly subjected to media outlets hounding her with questions about what I was doing, who I was as a person, how she’s handling my death? Will she forever be haunted that I didn’t pledge Alpha, that I didn’t get married, that I didn’t have kids, that I didn’t come home more?
Will my friends of today gather with people who don’t know me and share stories of how funny or kind I was?
Will those I stopped talking to or who dislike me take a moment to consider if our falling out was worth it? If we could have accepted more apologies, found a better understanding of each other, let our past feelings subside?
Will famous personalities make my name trend or mention me in speeches and interviews? Will they be told to “stick to basketball” or “stick to acting” by a random commenter who works at Papa John’s?
The penchant being that our Blackness, our talents, our ability, and our worth is only valuable as entertainment and when our lives are lost, we should remain quiet, humble, stand and salute, with our hand over our hearts to pledge allegiance to the place that enslaved our ancestors, raped them of their bodies and resources. Then upon the seeming release of their shackles, called them lazy, rabid, and animalistic. Considered them unworthy of integration, put them behind bars and hung them from trees, and said the rest should be grateful that they get the opportunity to pull themselves up from their bootstraps even though we had already been tripped from the moment we looked at our laces.
Will my death be parroted on social media and the news? Just a trigger warning of graphic imagery as my body lay cold on the ground.
Will people become desensitized to my Black skin bleeding out because they’ve seen this before in parking lots, in cars, in parks, and on the street?
Will they do anything about it? Will there be gun laws implemented, reform or reprimanding for police, will people change their worldview?
Will my story subside in a month? The next Kanye quote or Trump press conference overshadowing my death until a year or so when the acquittal of my killers becomes a Vice article or musing on CNN?
Will there be outrage? Will there be mourning? Will there be vengeance?
Will my last breaths be the ones of regret, sorrow, and missed “I love you’s” as a man holding a gun thinks over his story of how I was the aggressor and what his thought process was that led him to his only option being my death?
The thing about fear is that everyone has one and they’re all different and justified in their own manner. It’s manifested either in our reality or our fantasy. Our truths or our stereotypes. I fear falling down because I’ve fallen down from low places as much as I fear heights because I don’t want to experience that fall.
I’ve been pulled over. I’ve had my car searched. I’ve gotten summons at my job. I’ve been in court. I’ve been asked by cops and strangers what I’m doing in places, where I’m going, if my car was mine. I’ve feared for my life. I’ve feared for my past. I’ve feared for my future.
I fear that the case of Ahmaud Arbery will become another in a long line of injustices against Black people in America. I fear that his name will be etched in stone with our Sandra Bland, our Tamir Rice, our Philando Castile, our Trayvon Martin. That it will just be on a poster or t-shirt we carry until the next time this happens. And then made into smaller print the next time it happens. And even smaller the next time it happens.
I fear they want us silenced, as we’ve seen in Ferguson with so many protesters dead.
I fear they want want us numb to the sight of the lifeless bodies of Black folks.
I fear they want us to lose hope that things will change, that things will get better, that there will be justice.
I fear the system built on our backs and burdened against us is continuing to win.
I fear that a beautiful, worthy, innocent Black life was taken again and it’s just another day in the news for generating heartbreak and fear.
Rest in Power Ahmaud.
May the name, legacy, and life of you and so many others mean so much more for the change we seek. ✊🏿
Martin Morrow is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles, CA. He can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @martinMmorrow. His debut comedy album can be found here — https://music.apple.com/us/album/magic-of-the-city/1508706096
Donate to Ahmaud’s family here — https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/395160/supporting-ahmaud-arberys-family