You lose count of the videos. You lose count of the names. You lose count of the circumstances. You cannot escape the knowledge of the deaths. You cannot un-know the knowing that they died, that they keep dying, that you keep needing to defend their humanity in death. Defense against the passive voice. Defense against “officer-involved incident”. Defense against “no angel”. Defense against “threatening”. Defense against “disruptive” (not for us, that word, which might to you be a promise of accolades, and for us a different kind of certainty).
A person. A man. A black man. A black woman. A disabled black man. A black transwoman. The greater the degree of specificity the greater the discomfort, because we know even when we might need deny it to ourselves that we don’t all just get to be a person.
It doesn’t matter how many videos there are, or how many well-meaning journalistic recreations of ~the scene of the incident in question~ there might be, or how many well-intentioned well-i-am-shocked-who-knew-this-was-happening-it’s-ok-i-care-now folks will relaunch themselves off the broken backs of the dead. None of this will matter unless black lives matter.
I turned my eyes to the sea again, and
I could just make out the figure of
a woman waving to get my attention,
as if she knew me, as if my staring back
across the time, across the water meant
her survival, meant something. And the nun
went on and on about how nothing could
divide us and I wondered how long 400 years is,
how many bodies, how suffering was
multiplied among them, what is forever.
—from Fort Comfort by T.J. Jarrett