Black Lives Matter: Bravery Under Black Boots

Photo: Bettina Hansen for The Seattle Times
Photo: Bettina Hansen for The Seattle Times

I hesitate to share these thoughts because they are still developing and I am still sorting through many emotions. But ultimately, the timeliness of the message is more important than my discomfort. As the world is aware, a grand jury in St. Louis County decided not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown on Monday. In the hours after the spectacle of the announcement protests popped up in cities across the country. Frustrated, hurt, and resolute, I joined protestors in Seattle, WA as we marched through the streets peacefully demonstrating against the decision by interrupting traffic and chanting. I am not a political organizer or expert. However, I am black. I am young. I am targeted. And I am mad.

Throughout the protest the Seattle Police Department followed closely on bicycles and did their best to steer the direction of the march by barricading select streets. Our goal was to take Interstate 5, and at the entrance to the freeway we were met with rows of police officers. We were maced in the face at close range, shot at with rubber bullets, disoriented with noise bombs, pushed against with bicycles, and thrown to the ground by eager, excited officers. I was one of five people arrested during the protest and charged with “Failure to Disperse,” which is the short way of saying that despite orders to back up, I stood firm with a black power fist in the air until an officer grabbed my arm with the intention of arresting me. Until he could manage to handcuff me, I kept my other fist proudly in the air and consequently spent the night in the King County Jail.

In the hours and days following my arrest, I have received hateful comments via social media and have felt the stress and emotional pain of the situation spread throughout my entire body. However, I realize that now is not the time for self-pity. Now is the time for bravery. My bravery is needed now, at this moment, for my ancestors and my children. Our freedom is everything and greater than my personal fear. We all have dharmic responsibilities to our past and our future and now is the opportunity for everyone to do their part to correct the stifling, hateful energy that permeates all of our existences in this country. As the descendent of slaves, I carry each generation’s pain and anger, layered on top of each other, in my being and I have a responsibility to ease their suffering as well as the future suffering of my children. We are all affected by the system of white supremacy that governs this country. If you are the descendent of a slave owner, you carry inside you that culpability and burden of that legacy. It is everyone’s duty to stand against institutions who believe the best way to protect the morals of this country is to execute black bodies, and in doing so reduce the burdens we all carry as a result of this system.

The internet has been a great resource for me in following the events of Ferguson from coverage of the incident itself, to supporting the young, black leaders primarily responsible for the sustained and ongoing struggle in Ferguson, and footage of people taking to the streets by the thousands to show solidarity. I’m sharing this piece not to bring attention to myself or my personal experience, but to remind those who, like me, are tired and angry of always having to defend and explain their humanity, to be brave. I will always stand up for myself and my human right to freedom and well-being, which is the natural state of living beings. I’m not giving up and I urge you not to either. It’s important to me that people interested in following me through my writing know that I am fundamentally dedicated to universal freedom—I’m always working to free myself and those who live under the crushing black boot of systematic abuse and oppression. If you are truly committed to supporting me, I ask you to work with me to recognize and spread the light of truth. The history books need us to act and be brave now and offer our voices and our bodies to the cause of truth and freedom. I will always have your back and be a source of strength and light for fellow fighters. Always.

peace,
A.

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