To whom it may concern,
There is something weighing on my soul that’s been hard to put into words...until now.
You see, I've been stuck, paralyzed, disheartened, transported back to a time when “We shall Overcome”…"No Justice, No peace…” and “I am a Man…” were the pleas of “non-humans.”
A suppressed memory came back the other day. My father and I were walking on a downtown sidewalk. A white man came toward us and Sonny, my dad, stepped off the curb. No words were exchanged…but the look of shame in his eyes connected a son to the gut-wrenching story of a father born and broken in the Deep South.
I’m angry at you for bringing that back. I’m hurt that you've reminded me that skin color is the equation of life or death. I’m saddened that my children and grandchildren will be burdened by the scars of our ancestors. You see, you may not realize it, but your ignorant, stupid, callous, inhumane, fucked up actions and reactions have set US ALL back decades.
How could you not feel? While gun smoke blended with afternoon air; while the echo of bullets rang through apartment hallways; while a mother screamed and dark, red blood slithered down the street like a newborn snake; while credits rolled on a life yet lived…
How could you not see that it was not the time for slathering dogs, M-16’s and red-faced orders to “BEHAVE?”
I write “to whom it may concern” because there’s no one person to blame. Honestly, I can’t say why an officer named Wilson decided to empty his gun into the body of an unarmed teen. And we will probably never know. A thick blue line of arrogance and brotherhood and superiority and hatred and FEAR blur and blunt the truth.
I do know that you had ONE, small, precious, irretrievable moment to make this almost right; to make the sting less agonizing; to leave dignity intact. You had an opening, an opportunity to say; “You are a mother; you are my neighbors, my friends…MY KIDS.”
But, no, Chief Jackson, you let it blow away like dandelions in a gusty, August wind.
You and your comrades answered anger with armor; mourning with mounted weapons; tears with tear gas; swagger with SWAT teams; and fury with flash-bang grenades. You seized the occasion to show off your new government-issued toys and brandish your old government-endorsed biases. You showed this smart-ass, uppity, young generation that they will never bring new meaning to the word…“NIGGA!”
I AM SO PISSED AT YOU!!!
You have betrayed our kids. You may see them as specters of your stereotypes; as pants-saggin’, hot-headed hoodlums; as pathetic piranhas devouring everything you deem “wholesome and dear”… but we made and molded them. We gave them poverty and Prada, Ghettos and Gucci; Hopelessness and HBO; We made the Walking Dead Expendable and told them to “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.”
We have sold them a big, hot, steaming bag of Americanized, homogenized horseshit and now…THEY KNOW IT!
We told them they can be whatever they want to be in this Great Land of ours; We told them they have the Constitutional right to peaceful protest; to vent out loud; to speak against wrong; to stand against injustice. We told them to “Trust Officer Friendly.”
We did not tell them that the boys we bred on the hot, dusty fields of Iraq and Afghanistan have returned with WAR seared into their psyches. We did not tell them that a bag of Skittles, a can of Arizona iced tea, a stolen pack of Cigarillos or simply walking on the sidewalk is the equivalent of bombs strapped to the bellies of the “ENEMY.” We did not warn them that “BLACK” is the new code word for “TERRORIST” on American soil.
And don’t you dare be so smug; don’t let the darkness sooth you. For YOUR kids see YOU, too. Your kids have braved those lines. They've tasted your venom; witnessed your hypocrisy; been tased by your indifference and choked by your ambivalence.
They've awakened from their social media haze to see monsters from history books smiling, sitting, rationalizing in their very own living rooms. With finger to lip, they are shushed, dismissed, told: “Hush…we’re listening to Rush.”
“To whom it may concern” is apropos…’cause, really, I don’t know. I speak not to one but many. I curse the addicted, the forgivers and enablers. I spit at an old evil…my father’s evil. I write to a mindset, an institution, a SYSTEM that should be long dead.
I speak to RACISM, good ole “Uncle Ray.” I see his diseased, gnarly fingers, covering a wicked, defiant, smile of broken, yellow, razor-rat teeth. A Southern pot belly stuffed with racial strife expands proudly, pushing red, white and blue suspenders beyond its elastic limit.
“Bring it!” “I will fucking kill you!"
“Write through it,” Maya would say…
...but the feelings are too strong; the list is too long: It’s the ugly and unkind, the Post and the posters and those who've lost their goddamn minds; it’s the One-Percenters, the perpetrators, the Po-Po, the President and the press with its shitty lies; it's the apologists, the procrastinators and people who've taken their eyes off the PRIZE.
“Write through it,” ghostly scribes say… there is still so much to learn…
So this is for you...
To whom it may concern....