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All Lives Matter?

I Cry For You

“COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!”
“Is this your car?
“You fit the description.”
“Resisting Arrest.”
“PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM BOY!”
“That Black Man assaulted me! Arrest him!”
“He tried to rape me!”
“I feared for my life!”
“Who the hell do you think you are nigger???”
“Oh, you one of them “uppity” niggers, huh?”
“SHUT UP!
“You have no rights!!”
“You in the wrong neighborhood, boy.”
“He looks suspicious. Shoot him.”
“He was stealing.”
“He was high.”
“He had a gun… I thought.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My baby!! They shot my baby!!!! GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!

The clan doesn’t wear hoods anymore.
They wear badges.

Serve and protect.

Who protects Black Men from a bullet to the back–
or a knee on his neck
or being followed, terrorized, toyed with,
left bleeding out in a patch of dry yellow grass and weeds?

Shot in his home.
Shot on the street.
Shot in the stairwell.
42 times.

Did the police think one bullet would kill your body but emptying clips would kill your memory?

The most abused body in human history is the Black Male Body.

Being killed by the police is the leading cause of death of Black Men in America.
Not heart attacks.
Not diabetes.
Not old age.

Police Officers who turn Black Men’s pain into their own personal power.

The targeting and attack on the Black Male Body is as old as this country.

And just as vicious.
Tarring. Feathering. Whipping. Lynchings.

My Father.
My Brother.
My Uncle.
My Nephew.
My Cousin.
My Lover.
My Homie.
My Friend.

I weep for you.

I feel helpless. Incapable of offering you safety.
Peace.
Due process.
The benefit of the doubt.

Nothing I have–not my education, money, access, connection, resource, intention– can keep you alive when a Police Officer gets insulted because you stood for yourself. Or not. Just jogging is enough to have the blood rush to your lips once the shots tear threw your terrorized flesh.

I weep for you.

We, the ones who say we love you, have never created a safe space for you.
We’ve insisted you make one for us and then called you out by name
when you didn’t have the capability to give us something that was NEVER given to you.

I apologize.

I have villainized you like White people have.
You were enslaved just like I was.
You have suffered the trauma of history just as I have.
And yet, because you are a “man” I put obligations and
expectations on you that you were never equipped to fulfill.

Forgive me for my selfishness.
For my gender privilege.
For acting like you owed me or did something wrong.
You have been running for your life ever since the Middle Passage.

Forgive me for making you feel less because I make more.
Forgive me for not believing you.
Forgive me for putting my feelings about your survival.

I have been part of the problem.
I never let you be a human.
Just as afraid as me.
Just as vulnerable as me.
More.

I never made a safe space for you to tell me the truth.
To cry.
To share.
To be afraid.

I am so sorry.
I know I can’t stop the White Supremacist in dark Blue
from playing Russian roulette with your life.

I can listen.
I can witness.
I can stand with you.
So you know you are not so terribly alone in this world.

There is no hierarchy for pain.
But right now, I choose to put your pain above my own…

I love you Black Man.
I am here for you.
You are not alone.

And… I cry for you…

Title: I Cry For You
By. Dr. Venus Opal Reese

Stay Woke

I can’t sleep.

I’ve been trying for five days.
My eyes won’t stay closed.

Each time I try, my throat becomes a tangle.
Unexpressed rage.
Soul-aching sorrow.
Bone-freezing fear.

I see images behind my eyelids.

Burnt Black Bodies.
Chard to a crisp.
Swinging from the strong
arm of an ancient oak.

Fertilized by the blood and tears.
Family members made to watch.
To keep the peace.

So I keep my eyes open.

I’m tired.
But I can’t sleep.

I try again.
I close my eyes.

I feel myself spiraling downward.
Free falling through space and time.
Landing in the Atlantic.

The salt water burns my eyes.
My throat.

I try to move my arms.
My legs.

But they are bound.

I was “bad” cargo.
Outspoken and non-compliant.
The Captain threw me overboard.
A rock tied to my feet.

The waves became my watery grave.

I open my eyes.

Drenched.
Shaking.
Afraid.

I get up.
Wash my face.
Hug my puppy.

Body tired.
Mind racing.

I go back to bed.

I close my eyes.

This time I see cop cars.
Dozens and dozens of police.
Guns pointing at my face.

Helicopters flying way too low to be safe.
Spotlight from the sky like the eye of God.

“COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP?”

My body trembles.
I. Can’t. Breathe.
My body won’t move.

She’s too afraid.
Knowing I’m about to die.

I open my eyes.

I will not sleep tonight.

Sleep is a luxury reserved for the safe.

I have to stay woke.
To stay alive.

Title: Stay Woke
By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese

Loot & Burn

You wanna know why I loot?
Smash windows with bricks & sticks?
Firebomb buildings?

What you see when a building is ablaze is not what I see.

You see a savage.
A stupid nigga tearing up his own neighborhood.

You see an animal.
Greedy for goods I can’t afford.

You see an ignorant ape.
Hurting innocent people who own businesses in my neighborhood.
My city.
My state.

People who “didn’t do anything” to me,
so why hurt them?

You are right.
They didn’t do anything.
You didn’t do anything.

Answer me this…

Why didn’t you speak up for me
when that White man got my promotion?

Why didn’t you stand up for me
when you found out you were paid more than me
for doing the same job?

Why didn’t you come to my defense
when you watched, from the safety of your store,
the Cops beat me with billy clubs
right in front of your business.

You were minding your business, right?

I see you.
I know who you are.
Your name is coward.

For generations you have set up shop
in my neighborhood
while looking down at me.

As long as I kept buying
your alcohol
your food
your merchandise,

You were FINE with the police killing me.

Terrorizing my little sister until she peed on herself.
Intimidating my uncle by pulling a gun on him in broad daylight
right in front of your store.

You never spoke up.

You never made friends with me.
You never gave a fuck about me.

See, what you call vandalism,
I call my voice FINALLY getting heard.

What you call violent acts of property damage
I call standing up for myself.

A building can be rebuilt.
A store can be restocked.
A window can be repaired.

A black life stolen by four Police Officers can not be
rebuilt.
restocked.
repaired.
refinanced.
resuscitated.

Not with a cop’s knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 42 seconds.

There is no insurance coverage for the pain of a childless mother.

What you call property damage I call visibility.

You didn’t see me when I was toeing the line.
You didn’t listen to me when I took a knee.
You didn’t care when unarmed Black Man, after Black Man, after Black Man were murdered by police.

You went right on.
You turned your head.
Business as usual.

Right in my neighborhood.

I was “stupid nigga” money to you.

I see you.
I know your name.
Now you know mine.

Rage.

Title: Loot & Burn
By. Dr. Venus Opal Reese

4K for 4

I keep trying to sleep.

I can’t.

I can’t stop myself from jumping from one social media platform to another.

Reading.
Watching.

Hearing helicopters over my head.
Police sirens in my ears.
My body starts to shake.

I’m back on the block in Baltimore.

Dirty White Cops.
Into young Black Girls.

Who would believe me?

He’s an officer of the law.
I’m just a poor Black girl from the streets.

They never believed me.
They never believed us.
They didn’t believe George when he said,
“I can’t breathe.”

Black voices
even when screaming
make no sound.

Not a sound that the cops
or the courts consider credible.

Our bodies.
Our flesh.
Our bones.
Our blood.

The very breath in our bodies
is a threat to the police officer’s respect.

If we don’t toe the line
they can rape us with
a bullet
a billy club
a knee on his neck.
Two more knees digging into his back blocking his breath.

While the fourth Police officer, like a voyeuristic pedophile, gets off by watching.

The 8 bullets that killed Breonna, in her own bed, are no different from a gang bang.

Each a hot, hard penetration into her unsuspecting body.

Like Massa forcing his seed inside her
then “sharing” his little pickaninny with his gentlemen friends.

He drank in her screams with a sadistic smile and watched as they ripped her fragile—but fighting—body apart.

White folk don’t give a fuck about our bodies.

Our lives have NEVER mattered to them.

That’s why it’s been so easy for cops to kill us. And for Whites to sit back and watch.
In silence.

They want our culture, our confidence, our strength without our pain.

It took 4,000+ arrests of protestors to get
4 police officers charged and arrested for brazenly executing a Black Man in broad daylight, defiantly looking at the camera.

An arrest is not a conviction.

It took protests in all 50 states and burning buildings to the ground to get this done.

An arrest is NOT a conviction.

I don’t know if I will ever go to sleep again.

Title: 4K for 4
By. Dr. Venus Opal Reese

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